Aston Villa (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line ups

I feared Sunday’s return to football at St James’ Park would be a drab affair and bore draw. How wrong I would prove to be!

The red card may have helped our cause, but it was brilliant to see us look fit, sharp and fully motivated to get the result, with us totally deserving what turned out to be our most convincing win of the season – and the first time we’ve scored three goals in a league match at St James’ Park in over a year.

A great start to life after lockdown, moving us 11 clear of the drop zone and allowing us to focus on a push towards the top 10 instead, but the games now come thick and fast, with Wednesday night’s visit of Aston Villa being followed by a FA Cup quarter final with Man City on Sunday.

With the latter match in mind, I’m hoping Bruce rotates here and makes the most of his five subs – not that we should be taking an Aston Villa side battling to stay up lightly. Especially when this is the club that made insensitive banners to mock our relegation to the second tier on TWO occasions in recent times..

Hopefully, whatever side Steve Bruce selects arrives with the same mentality they did on Sunday. Do that and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to stick the knife into an Aston Villa side second from bottom.

Predicted XI

(4-2-3-1): Dubravka – Yedlin, Lascelles, Schar, Rose – Hayden, Bentaleb – Lazaro, Almiron, Joelinton – Carroll:

With us playing City on Sunday, THIS is the tough bit to predict.

Dubravka will almost certainly play, but who starts ahead of him is anyone’s guess if Bruce is planning to prioritise our shot at FA Cup glory over the weekend.

I have a feeling Schar could be handed some game time after he was given a cameo appearance on Sunday, but, then again, will Bruce break up a Lascelles / Fernandez partnership that’s helped us to THREE clean sheets on the spin since we moved to a four-man defence? Ideally no, but this could be a good chance for him to look at Schar in the new formation.

At right-back, Manquillo has been solid as a rock whenever he’s been called upon, so I think he could be saved for a battle with Raheem Sterling on Sunday. As a result, I think Yedlin will get the nod for this one – but he’ll have to do much better against Jack Grealish than he did in that 2-0 defeat at Villa Park earlier in the season.

In midfield, I expect Bentaleb to get a chance. Shelvey and Hayden complimented each other superbly on Sunday, but Bruce will surely preserve at least one of those ahead of the Man City game, so it would make sense if one is given a rest. Given Hayden’s supreme fitness levels and the fact Shelvey can be a passenger if he’s feeling below par physically, I can see the latter starting on the bench. Not only that, Bentaleb needs a chance to convince Bruce he’s worth signing permanently – and games like this give him the perfect chance to do exactly that.

In attack, I’m quite certain Lazaro will come in after impressing at West Brom in his last start, while Matt Ritchie seems unlikely to play twice in 4 days given he only just made Sunday’s win over Sheffield Utd. I can also see Saint-Maximin being saved for the City game given he holds the key to our hopes of unsettling Pep Guardiola’s side. With that in mind, it would not surprise me if we saw Almiron in a number 10 role and Joelinton down the left, making way for Carroll to make a rare start up top now he’s fit again and set to sign a new one-year deal.

Gayle and Muto will be pushing for minutes, and the latter could even play in a second striker role, but Bruce seems more likely to give Carroll a good hour if he’s deemed ready to start.

The Opposition

Here’s ‘ones to watch’ in Dean Smith’s struggling Villa side:

Jack Grealish – The visitors talisman, top goalscorer and key creator. If you keep him quiet, you tend to keep Villa quiet! If Yedlin starts, hopefully he contains him more than he did in the reverse fixtures earlier this season!

John McGinn – The all-action Scotsman is a summer target of Steve Bruce’s if you believe reports that emerged prior to talk of a Saudi takeover. A box-to-box midfielder with an impressive engine, an eye for a pass and uncanny knack of arriving into the box.

Keinan Davis – The powerful young striker has started both of Villa’s two games back so far and has looked a real handful. He’s still very raw, but could be an interesting battle between him and Jamaal Lascelles should he be given the nod again.

Team news

Both Longstaff’s look set to miss out again, despite Matty being back in training, while Bruce has also confirmed the game will come too soon for Florian Lejeune and Ciaran Clark.

Paul Dummett is ineligible once again, being out of Steve Bruce’s 25-man squad since January.

Right-back Frederic Guilbert and loanee Danny Drinkwater could return for the first time, but centre-back Bjorn Engels remains out.

Prediction

We may not have quite as much to play for in the league, and could well have one eye Sunday’s big FA Cup tie, but any fringe players coming in should be motivated and eager to impress.

That could bode well if Bruce rotates as I predict, however this really is a huge game for Aston Villa – so I’d be worried for the Villains if we look more up for it than them here!

They look suspect at the back and are yet to click in attack since football returned, so they’ll have to be much better here to get the win they so desperately need.

I can see this one ending all square.

Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Aston Villa

HWTL!

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & we’ll get back to you!)

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.

52 thoughts on “Aston Villa (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line ups

  1. I think we will go unchanged if everybody has recovered. 2 or 3 subs on 65 minutes. I know it is a short turnaround but City is Wed-Sun so that helps us out.

    Quiet here considering that football is back so I will give some talking points.

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  2. does anybody really believe they are extending Carroll’s contract? Why? They can wait. It is not like he will have other clubs lining up around the block for him. Who is giving the approval?

    It doesnt make much sense with a takeover days away.

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  3. We’ll be unchanged no reason to upset the balance and also we’re not safe yet we’re not good enough to change a winning side regardless of the city match

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  4. Dour Dave will be in a bad mood tonight. He now has 8 points from a possible 36 since his return. They have Chelsea up next and then NUFC. I can see them getting a maximum of 1 point from these games so it will probably be 9 from 42. Relegation form 🙂

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  5. Eric Sykes:
    I think we will go unchanged if everybody has recovered. 2 or 3 subs on 65 minutes. I know it is a short turnaround but City is Wed-Sun so that helps us out.

    Quiet here considering that football is back so I will give some talking points.

    Personally think there’s no chance we’re unchanged.

    Even if there’s a gap between tomorrow & Sunday’s game, Bruce would be naive to risk injuries when the City game is going to require all of our best players being fully fit & raring to go.

    Now we’re 11 pts clear, the cup QF has to be our top priority!

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  6. Watched the game again and it looks like Brucie and the boys had actually been working on some stuff in training. We had already gone to the back 4 but there was very little of everybody sitting back on the 18 yard line. They had definitely moved up the field giving Joe more support. Then Ritchie and St Max were allowed to switch wings. We even played some high press.

    It is only one game though and we will see after Villa if Bruce continues to let our speedsters loose.

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  7. Olly, I am not being nasty but I think you need a reality check about the cup.

    We are 16/1 to win. City are 3/16.

    On the other hand we are 10/7 to beat Villa. I think we play our best team there and see who recovers best. We have 5 subs so Bruce can rotate that way.

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  8. The commentator on the Man City game said they have won 8 of the last 9 domestic trophies. Not sure if he included the Community Shield.

    I think Pep will have them up for the match even more than usual as they have missed out on the league and have the European ban.

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  9. We are going out of the Cup. Citeh are in majestic form and we have an average team. If I were Bruce, I’d prioritise points in the PL and try to push that Top 10.

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  10. Eric Sykes:
    Olly, I am not being nasty but I think you need a reality check about the cup.

    We are 16/1 to win. City are 3/16.

    On the other hand we are 10/7 to beat Villa. I think we play our best team there and see who recovers best. We have 5 subs so Bruce can rotate that way.

    Dear me….we’ll never win a trophy with that attitude! 🙄

    What have odds got to do with it? Of course we’re the underdogs, but we got a draw against Man City earlier this season and Saint-Maximin didn’t play that day.

    I think they’ll beat us no matter what, but I’m also convince Bruce will rotate a little bit vs Aston Villa to protect some of our key players.

    There is absolute no doubt in my mind that Steve Bruce will prioritise Sunday’s game and make changes.

    I think it may be you that need a reality check if you don’t see it that way! Do you prefer to see us have a go at finishing 10th over giving the FA Cup our all?

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  11. Shamrock:
    We are going out of the Cup. Citeh are in majestic form and we have an average team. If I were Bruce, I’d prioritise points in the PL and try to push that Top 10.

    Really?

    Cup quarter final at home and you’d rather prioritise the chance of finishing in the top 10?! Baffles me that does.

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  12. BTW Olly: I think the team you picked would still get something from Villa. I just think we have finally clicked in the last 2 games where only one change was made to the starting 11. As I said earlier, I would do in-game rotation because we have 5 subs.

    Villa have looked cack in most of the games I have seen even though they beat us.

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  13. I think momentum is more important than rotation for now. A good performance against Villa will give us more confidence against City. I looked at the fixtures and they will be coming thick and fast so rotation will be necessary after City.

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  14. I had the Villa/Chelsea game recorded and just watched it. They played like us pre the formation change. They had the 9-0-1 and were relying on a kid of 22 who has played 2 games for them and as no goals as the outlet. Remind you of a big Brazilian? I know Chelsea are a good team but Villa just sat on their own 18 yard line. Remind of of a team in B&W? Tammy Abraham scored 26 goals for them last year and they seem to have no options now. They honestly looked like a Bruce team which is not surprising since he managed them.

    I know we are not Chelsea but I dont think we will have to play on the counter on Wed. They are one of the few teams who do not play the high press as well. I think we can afford to play a more open game against this lot.

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  15. I’m in two minds on this. My head says concentrate on another win and try to finish as high as possible but my heart says go for the quarter final so save our best players.
    It would be so Newcastle to get to the final and not be able to go to Wembley to watch it.

    Still having internet problems so may or may not be on to comment during the game, hopefully virgin can sort out the issues today.

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  16. kimtoon:
    Ice, re your post on last thread, how reliable is your source mate ?

    very,same one that told me this usa guy had bid only 10 mil higher tan arabs and not 50 mil

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  17. Great win against Sheff U and let’s keep the momentum going by fielding our strongest team against Villa tonight.
    We are not going to beat Man City and the worst thing we can do is to get a draw against them at SJP this weekend and then need a replay in this congested end of season.
    I am with Shamrock on this one and want us to go for a top ten finish.
    After all, each position is worth £2m so the higher we finish the more cash we get, and we will need that cash if we do not get taken over.

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  18. Ice , this player we have got lined up should the takeover happen — is he a striker ? – please tell me he is a striker.

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  19. Keep an eye out for Grealish tonight. He is the most fouled player in the PL but watch him. He has a knack of running into people and falling over. He has some moves, he either goes by a player or runs into him. Very clever. Need to be wary of him around our box.

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  20. With Man City SO far off Liverpool in the league I am pretty sure that they will be all out to win everything else they can. If they loose the league, get knocked out of the cup to us and no CL – there will be big problems at City with players looking to leave if they are not winning things and no CL footy.

    But with 38pts I think we are safe now. I think we should absolutely go after that City game. No way should we write it off for league places for an extra couple of million.

    Looking at our fixtures we have 5 winnable games. I think we can rest a few and still beat Villa – or get something from it at the very least.

    Newcastle don’t do momentum, let’s go after City and if we get beat, no surprises – but if we win, what would that do for momentum?!

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  21. icedog: very,same one that told me this usa guy had bid only 10 mil higher tan arabs and not 50 mil

    Ice – is the new addition linked with the takeover (as in hinges on the takeover happening?)

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  22. Eric Sykes:
    BTW Olly: I think the team you picked would still get something from Villa. I just think we have finally clicked in the last 2 games where only one change was made to the starting 11. As I said earlier, I would do in-game rotation because we have 5 subs.

    Villa have looked cack in most of the games I have seen even though they beat us.

    Fair play, in-game subs could work if the starting 11 start fast and we make changes around the 60 min mark.

    I agree re. momentum and us starting to click, I am just conscious of ASM’s hamstring. We have a VERY slim chance of beating Man City with him, but without him I fear for us.

    Maybe he starts and is taken off early, I just think we have enough to beat Villa with Lazaro, Bentaleb, Carroll, Schar etc.

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  23. Aguero’s out. How many goals has he scored against us? I seem to remember 4 in one game. I know they have good replacements but Kun is a Geordie slayer.

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  24. Saw Moyes interviewed after the game last night and he is turning into the Sith from Star Wars.

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  25. I’d even consider playing Muto on the left side and rest Joelinton – or at least have him on the bench to come on and replace him.

    4-3-3

    Dubravka
    Manquillo/Lascelles/Fern/Rose
    Bentalab
    Shelvey/Longstaff
    Lazaro/Carroll/Muto

    That beats Villa imo.

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  26. Eric Sykes:
    Saw Moyes interviewed after the game last night and he is turning into the Sith from Star Wars.

    😂 he was clutching at straws mate. They looked hopeless last night and he’s only lucky there are 3 teams worse than them this season.

    I think Norwich are obviously gone – the last 2 places will be between B’mth, Villa and West Ham. I’d love it to be Villa and WH to go, but Bmth look lost.

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  27. Eric Sykes:
    Aguero’s out. How many goals has he scored against us? I seem to remember 4 in one game. I know they have good replacements but Kun is a Geordie slayer.

    Agree, big plus him not playing .

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  28. This Saudi crackdown against piracy should help get our deal approved. I think it is mainly about getting the rights to the Bundesliga and making a bid for the PL in 2022. I think it is very helpful for us but not designed for us. As I have said before, I think it delayed our takeover even more as the lawyers had to pore over yet another document. Hopefully it will be days rather than weeks now.

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  29. And some papers are putting 2 and 2 together and getting 8,247 saying a possible bid for the NY Mets by the Reubens might affect us. B0llocks. They are idiots.

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  30. Sharpy/Kim/Sidekick,got to careful how i say this,the chief scout his best pal i know his dad from our playing days in the same team.well i speak to him on phone from time to time,he told if when takeover goes through they have a good player paperwork ect done we just have to wait for takeover to go through,jabba would not pay his wages anyway dont know where he plays my friend doesnt know
    thats the best ive got mates

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  31. Pretty even with Villa having better chances. I thought we started to worry them more in the last 10 minutes.

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  32. icedog:
    Sharpy/Kim/Sidekick,got tocareful how i say this,the chief scout his best pal i know his dad from our playing days in the same team.well i speak to him on phone from time to time,he told if when takeover goes through they have a good player paperwork ect done we just have to wait for takeover to go through,jabba would not pay his wages anyway dont know where he plays my friend doesnt know
    thats the best ive got mates

    Just need the takeover to happen mate. It’s outrageous it’s taken this long to make a decision!!.

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  33. We looked slow in that first half. I don’t know if they have decided they are safe now, but they were better against Sheff Utd. Hopefully come out with more urgency in the 2nd half

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  34. Gayle could be one of those players who benefits from having no crowd. Everyone always says he’s the best finisher in training at every club he’s been at.

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  35. Really poor goal keeping for their goal – very disappointing coz for all Villa looked better, they had few shots that actually needed Dubravka to save.

    I think Bruce did well tonight. Good decision to switch ASM and Ritchie – looked a lot better after that, and his subs obviously made an impact too.

    I thought we were safe after Sheff Utd so it’s just about by how many points now for me 🤷🏼‍♂️.

    Hopefully Ritchie and Hayden not badly injured there also.

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  36. I know Rose took a bit of stick after SU too, but I like him. I think he and Manquillo are very good full backs in our back 4. Lascelles seems to defo prefer a back 4 over back 5 and Freddie alongside him works well.

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  37. Wasnt the greatest game but considering some of the dross we have watched this season I will take it. Fair result even if it did come from an error.

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  38. So so game, gutted with their equaliser … switched off and a rare poor error from Dubravka, but hey ho… a point is ok.

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