The Opposition Opinion returns following the dreaded international break, and this week we’ve been getting some thoughts from the Midlands ahead of our trip to Villa Park.
Here’s our chat with Villa fan Andrew in the build up to tonight’s game:
Q1 – Firstly, what short of shape do you feel Aston Villa are in coming into this one? Interested to know the feeling around the club and general mood of fans..
“The feeling is okay-ish.
“We played really well against Liverpool in our recent defeat to them but were pretty toothless against Wolves which has deflated fans somewhat.”
Q2 – I noticed that Jack Grealish, Tom Heaton and Bjorn Engels have been declared all but fit to return after recent injuries. How important are both to your team?
“Jack Grealish is head and shoulders our most crucial player at the moment – the Wolves game highlighted that by his absence.
“Heaton and Engels have both been important players this season but Grealish is the one who threads it all together.
“Engels and Heaton are good but replaceable, Grealish isn’t.“
Q3 – What are the strengths and weaknesses of this Aston Villa side?
“The spine of the team is good; I think most clubs outside the top 4 wouldn’t mind Mcginn and Grealish in their midfield and Engels and Mings have had a good partnership at the back. With the likes of Douglas Luiz, Marvellous Nakamba and even Conor Hourihane playing their part, that part of the team we needn’t worry about.
“Where we’re weak is out on the flanks and up top. We lack pace out wide, which is something Villa teams of old have never struggled with and Wesley for whatever reason, is struggling to adapt to Premier League football at the moment.”
Q4 – What’s the Villa XI (and formation) likely to start on Saturday? And could you give us any star players to watch out for and, at the other end of the spectrum, any weak links we could exploit?
“With Grealish back I imagine it will be a narrow 4-3-3 with Grealish on the left in his new position, Trezeguet on the right and Wesley up top. Nakamba, Luiz and Mcginn will play in the middle with former holding and in defence it will be the usual suspects of Targett, Mings, Engels, Heaton and Guilbert (injuries pending of course).
“Whilst he’s scored 4, Wesley has really struggled at times this season. He doesn’t seem to always know what to do in the right areas and his lack of decision making can slow down or ruin attacks for us. He just about made it into my combined 11 though as it doesn’t look like Joelinton is having an easy time of it either”
Q5 – What do you make of this Newcastle side and which players do you see as the strengths and weaknesses in our team?
“You look a solid outfit.
“You’ve made yourselves hard to beat but until recently have struggled in the goals department.
“Given the run of games Newcastle have had in the first third of the season, Bruce should actually be given a lot of credit for the job he’s done.”
Q6 – What sort of game do you think it’ll be and how do you see it panning out? Give us a prediction..
“I think it will be decided by the odd goal.
“1-0 or 2-1 on the cards.”
Q7 – Which 3 sides do you see going down this season and why? And where do you see our two clubs ending up?
“Right now I can’t see the current bottom three doing enough to get out of trouble.
“Watford lost 3-0 at home to Burnley and whilst Southampton did get a draw against Arsenal and Norwich beat Everton, I don’t think they have the quality to save themselves.
“Villa and Newcastle will be in similar positions this season, around the 15th position mark.”
Q8 – If you could sign one player from NUFC, who would you like to see Dean Smith go for?
“Due to the aforementioned lack of pace, I’d probably take Almiron or Saint Maximin. They offer something different in a game and can be real livewires.
“Obviously the Longstaff brothers are impressive but I’m not sure they’d get in ahead of Mcginn and Grealish right now!”
Q9 – Steve Bruce. What did you make of him during his time at Villa Park?
“Nice bloke and didn’t deserve the stick he got.
“Did well getting us to the play offs the first time round but to me he just ran out of ideas.
“I thought he would be a disaster at Newcastle but so far he’s proving me wrong.”
Q10 – Finally, if you had our two squads to choose from and were asked to pick the best possible side, what would you starting 11 be?
Next time we’ll be speaking to a Man City fan ahead of their trip to St James’ Park on Saturday!
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About Olly Hawkins
Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.