Another week of Premier League football, and with that comes another round of predictions from Charlie Nicholas, Mark Lawrenson and Michael Owen.
Sky Sports’ Charlie Nicholas backs us to come away with a 2-1 win, the BBC’s Mark Lawrenson reckons it’ll be a 1-1 draw (the same scoreline he predicted for the Sheffield Utd game), while ex-Mag Michael Owen predicts another home victory – revealing how Aston Villa are yet to keep a clean sheet away from home all season (let’s hope he’s not just jinxed it!).
One theme emerging is how much praise Steve Bruce is receiving from TV pundits – and rightly so after Sunday’s superb win – while another is the fact all three expect us to deny Villa the win they so badly need.
Here’s what they’ve had to say, starting with Sky’s Charlie Nicholas:
Charlie Nicholas (Sky Sports)
‘Not only have I complimented Steve Bruce at every opportunity, but I cannot remember the last time Newcastle won 3-0. They only needed to get Joelinton into a position where he can score and sometimes that is all it takes. You did feel sorry for him, and it is uncomfortable when you watch them and the fans are getting on his back.
‘Steve Bruce has probably worked with him as well as others on having some belief, that if you get into the right areas, you will score. They are the most important goals and you need to be in the areas where it matters. Joelinton got in amongst it and in and around these areas where the opportunities may arise.
‘Surely the worry disappears with the fans not being there and the high demands that they make sometimes. The players may have become more courageous. The best strikers miss chances but they are always back for more, and this is what builds and instils confidence.
‘I thought Aston Villa did well against Chelsea and thought they were going to prove me wrong again. Chelsea did not even work for it and the equalising goal was a shambles defensively for Villa. Jack Grealish is still playing his part. If you have to play two forwards, play two. If you disrupt the shape and take risks, do it.
‘Newcastle are sitting sweet and there will be a takeover sooner or later. I do not see enough Villa players wanting to get on the ball and making things happen. Perhaps John McGinn or Conor Hourihane should get in behind, but the wide men are not delivering and have to do more. Dean Smith will play with the same system and it is just not enough.
Prediction: Newcastle 2-1 Aston Villa
Then to Lawro. He predicted a 1-1 draw against Sheffield Utd last week and he’s gone for the same scoreline here.
Mark Lawrenson (BBC)
‘I’ve said before that I think Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has done a really good job and his side know how to play his system. That’s why they are safe already.
‘Sunday’s win over Sheffield United essentially secured the Magpies’ survival – they are 13th, 11 points above the bottom three with eight games to go.
‘Villa, meanwhile, are still in deep trouble. They have had a bit of a nightmare in their first two games back, and I think they will have to wait a little bit longer for their first win since January.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Aston Villa
Then finally, last and certainly least, Michael Owen.
He reckons Villa’s awful defensive record away from home will see us win and move over the 40-point mark tonight.
Michael Owen (Bet Victor)
‘Three second-half goals saw United move eleven points clear of the relegation zone and gave them their biggest home win in the Premier League for over a year. I’ve said before that I think Steve Bruce is doing a great job and another win will surely secure their place in the Premier League for yet another season.
‘Aston Villa were beating Chelsea 1-0 at half-time last time out but were beaten by two goals in two minutes midway through the second half and that may well have damaged belief and confidence The Villans are now in deep trouble at the wrong end of the table and with games running out, they look to be facing an immediate return to the Championship. They have failed to keep a clean sheet away from home this season and I fancy a fired-up Newcastle to earn another three points which will move their tally beyond 40 points and almost certain safety.‘
Prediction: Newcastle win & under 2.5 goals.
The second time in as many games that all three have expected us to come away with a result, with the majority backing us to win once again.
How do you see tonight’s game panning out?