Aston Villa (A) Pre-match thoughts, team news, possible line-ups & score prediction

Fresh from opening day defeats last weekend, this one sees Bruce meet his former club in a meeting of two sides looking for their first win of the new 2021/22 season.

After a second half capitulation saw us ship four against West Ham in a defensive horror show, it’s clear where we need to improve heading into this one.

The hosts may be without Jack Grealish, last season’s top scorer Ollie Watkins, Bertrand Traore and fellow wing wizard Leon Bailey, however the likes of Danny Ings and Emi Buendia have what it takes to hurt us if we’re as open and unprotected as we were last weekend.

Saying that, there were some real positive moments in the first half of Sunday’s 4-2 defeat. Allan Saint-Maximin was unplayable at times and together with Callum Wilson showed that we’re capable of hurting good sides if they’re both fit and at it.

With Joe Willock available and Bruce hopeful Jamaal Lascelles will be fit enough to return to the heart of our defence, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be coming away with a result against a half-fit Villa side who looked way off the pace at Watford.

Team news

  • Jonjo Shelvey – Set to miss out with yet another calf injury. No details yet on how long he could be missing for.
  • Martin Dubravka – His foot has become infected following surgery, meaning he’s set to miss another ‘few weeks’.
  • Karl Darlow – Still a while away from being fully fit according to Bruce, with Covid hitting him hard last month.
  • Paul Dummett – Remains out with a calf problem, but is expected to feature against Burnley next week.
  • Jamaal Lascelles – Wasn’t fully fit last weekend, however Bruce seems hopeful he’ll be ready to return here.

For the hosts, Ollie Watkins remains out with a knee injury, explosive winger Bertrand Traore has ruled out and Dean Smith has suggested that £30m man Leon Bailey won’t be fit enough to start.

The Villa boss could welcome back midfielders Morgan Sanson and Douglas Luiz, however the latter only recently returned from the Olympics so is likely to start on the bench.

Predicted lineup

(5-3-2): Woodman – Murphy, Lascelles, Fernandez, Clark, Ritchie – Hayden, Willock, Almiron – Saint-Maximin, Wilson.

The lack of natural left-sided centre backs could see Bruce stick with Clark, despite him struggling badly last weekend and Fabian Schar waiting in the wings to give us that ball playing option we lacked against West Ham.

That said, I expect Lascelles to replace Krafth. The latter just isn’t a CB and has never really looked up to it at Premier League level – even in his favoured position. Not only that, I often think we look far more organised defensively when the skipper is playing, so his return would be a welcome boost at the back.

Personally, I’d stick Schar in for Clark to make up for Shelvey’s absence and improve the quality of our balls out from the back, but I see Bruce sticking with the former Villa man.

In midfield, Bruce has three options when it comes to Shelvey’s replacement – Joe Willock, Sean Longstaff or Jeff Hendrick.

Longstaff is more of a ‘like for like’ in terms of his preference to sit deep and keep things ticking, but I’m really hoping Willock is deemed fit enough to start and comes straight into the side. After all, that would then allow Hayden sit deep in his preferred position, giving license to Willock and Almiron to join Saint-Maximin and Wilson in attack.

Match prediction

I’ve felt pretty pessimistic about this one, but the team news coming out of the Villa camp suggests they’ll be anything but full strength, missing last season’s top scorer and their two first team wingers.

We’ve been awful at Villa Park under Bruce, losing 2-0 in each of the last two seasons, but I think we might just nick something here.

I can’t see us winning and still have a horrible feeling the likes of Ings and Buendia will cause us major problems – one is lethal if given half a chance and the other can be their creative spark in Grealish’s absence – however I see ASM and Wilson causing havoc on the counter, us taking the lead and holding on for a decent point.

Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Newcastle

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!

64 thoughts on “Aston Villa (A) Pre-match thoughts, team news, possible line-ups & score prediction

  1. Other than Dubravka I would say that’s arguably Bruceys strongest team with the squad he currently has – maybe Dummett for Clark, but I don’t think there’s that much between them.


  2. Bailey has to start no ifs or buts, we are very light again with Ollie Watkins out and I’m afraid that we have no idea when he will return, we had the same thing with Grealish yes he will be back next week, then the week after and on and on for 12 weeks so it’s hard to believe what Smith says anymore.
    With Traore missing as well it’s going to be a very tough game and unfortunately another game where with a full team we should be taking the points,


  3. Bruce, on tv tonight, we want to attack but you can’t expect to score twice every week in the premiere league !
    If you don’t expect to … probably won’t!
    This clown has no positivity, unlike King Kev who classed drawing or losing as swear words!


  4. I am OK with that team. This is virtually the same team that killed Leicester for 70 minutes. One bad half against West Ham does not define a season so all of the negativity is a bit over the top. I might change my mind at 5 O’Clock tomorrow 🙂

    West Brom absolutely mullered Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and they still went on to win the Champions League.

    I also think Willock should start. I dont get those who say he hasnt had much of a preseason and should be only a sub. Would a half of football against Rotherham have made a difference? Bruce says he is a fit lad so it looks like he is leaning towards Joe starting. He hasnt had any injuries so I dont get why he would be left out.

    Some are also saying we ran out of gas against West Ham because of illness and injury to ASM and Wilson. Maybe, but Willock is fully fit and probably raring to go.


  5. The way Bruce is talking I imagine we will revert to type and just shut up shop and try and get a 0-0. He mentioned how bad we defended last time so he will try and sort that out and that will be at the expense of anything attacking.

    2-0 loss.


  6. I guess we have to resort to finding a stream to watch the match this season. Any ideas of a good place to get decent stream?


  7. Gilly: we are the featured game on NBC Sn so you should be able to get that feed. It will be in English. I would have a look on Ed’s nearer match time as someone usually posts a link. You might have to put up with their “banter” to find it. They are nuts on there always fighting about nothing. It is actually pretty funny on match day to see their emotional swings.


  8. We will see how we play without Jonjo. He is an infuriating player. He can sometimes dictate a game but often sits too deep and acts like a 4th centre hald and wannabe quarterback.

    We have so much speed in our team and players that can run with the ball. We should us it. Wilson, ASM, Miggy, Fraser, Murphy, Willock are all wippets but if we are pressed we usually just have Shelvey hit it long.

    Ritchie and Murphy can cross as well so they should be getting down the line.

    Hopefully it will be 1st half West Ham and not 2nd. My problem with our “tactics” is that when we are pressed we resort to hoof ball whether it be Shelvey or the ‘keeper. Our defenders seem to panic on the ball and take the easy option of a pass back leading to the inevitable hoof to no-one in particular, but usually ending up with the opposition centre backs.


  9. I am officially sick of the Chronic saying Willock has only played 48 minutes in the pre-season and may need to be eased back in. Pre-season is mostly kickabouts especially at NUFC where we play York or Darlington. How would that help? He hasnt been injured and has been in full time training. Why would he need to be “eased back in”. The lad had been at Arsenal since he was 4, I think he might have the hang of it by now.

    What is it with this match fitness narrative for Willock? He was never injured. They play training games. He was in the Arsenal squad!!!

    How many pre-season minutes did ASM have?


  10. So Willock starts. All of the b0llocks and scaremongering by The Chronic and social media was just that. Why cant they just apply common sense or do they need to make up a story? The lad has been training for a month and we are extremely short in midfield. They have even said they want to sell his main competitors there – Longstaff and Hendrick, and will loan the other Longstaff out.

    I shouldnt get worked up about this nonsense.


  11. Schar back in as well. That is a pretty attacking team Steve!!! We are playing with at least 4 wingers – Miggy, ASM, Murphy, Ritchie. Wilson drifts out there sometimes as well.


  12. HWTL
    hope they try and keep the intensity that they started last week for the full 90 this time .


  13. I think Villa deserve the lead but we have had our chances. Much more entertaining than when we had 9 behind the ball last year.

    Need to come back here or Bruce will go back to that sort of “tactic” after this game.

    Ref needs to stop Villa pulling ASMs shirt.

    I still worry about Woodman. He doesnt look settled.


  14. What a killer goal.. it was a cracker but where was our defence! We knew they could knock in that long throw. We may struggle now.


  15. Var were not sure asked ref to check

    We will be relegated this season mark my words if this ***** continues


  16. Kimtoon: he took Wilson out. He knew exactly what he was doing. The yellow is upheld despite the VAR call. If the Ref and VAR knew what they were doing then Villa would be down to 10 men.

    He was offside but they SHOULD be down to 10 men anyway.


  17. 2-0 defeat and not even a shot on target. 2 games and 6 goals conceded.

    I said before kick off our 11 on paper are stronger than theirs & standby that. Not good enough!!.

    Can’t take credit for a 12th spot finish then start the season like this with the same group of players.

    Only the keeper that you can say isn’t the strongest for that position.


  18. Bruce used VAR and the penalty last week & im sure he’ll use that incident today too – but no shots on target at all & we were 2-0 down so that decision hasn’t made or broke this result.


  19. Eric, the ref made a rod for his own back first half handing out cards for anything and has continued but not when it matters!


  20. Villa just about deserve this, although there were some decisions that went against us. We wernt outplayed or outcoached.


    Perhaps Brucie’s luck has changed? We got so many undeserved points in the last 2 years through pure luck. Now we are getting payback?

    This is not a relegation team!!!!!!


  21. Eric Sykes:
    Villa just about deserve this, although there were some decisions that went against us. We wernt outplayed or outcoached.


    Perhaps Brucie’s luck has changed? We got so many undeserved points in the last 2 years through pure luck. Now we are getting payback?

    This is not a relegation team!!!!!!

    It is under Bruce


  22. Bottom of the League, Bottom of the League. Newcastle United, we’re Bottom of the League.


  23. Thought the lines were thicker for offside now and that you had to favor the attacker ?
    not when it’s us apparently.


  24. Surely Gayle more likely to score than Joel. Can never understand such late subs anyway when chasing the game. If we were in front and playing for time that would be different. All this seems to me that our manager doesn’t know what to do.


  25. This is a hard one to figure out. We didnt play badly, but we didnt play well. There were a lot of mistakes and misplaced passes from both teams. Wilson should have scored.

    On balance, Villa deserved this.

    Bruce’s luck ran out for this one but we have the players to do better.

    Norwich are bottom. NUFC only 2nd bottom 🙂


  26. It was a bit of brilliance from Ings and a bit of bad luck and bad VAR (again). And Wilson should have scored. All of that taken into account, 1 nil to the Villa would have been a fair result.

    Looking forward to the “5 Things we Learned” from The Chronic coz I learnt the square root of f-all.

    We will be in a relegation fight and Bruce is a **** manager, but I knew that already. So, Keiran Kelly at the Chronic, help me out with the other 3 things I learnt today, please:

    Willock might not be our saviour?

    Schar is kinda shyte?

    Dummett is our best defender?

    That’s 5. Can I get a job at The Chronic?


  27. Like us, Brentford have started this season with pretty much the same group of players – but in a far more difficult league.
    But they have picked up where they left off in their approach & style of play – 4 points & 2 clean sheets.

    We were sloppy in possession & looked vulnerable at set pieces – with 3 bloody CBs!!.

    That was a pretty strong starting 11 today other than Woodman – and we were ****!!


  28. Apart from the disturbing lack of VAR support and clearly biased refereeing, what is most worrying is our zero shots on target and poor defending. On paper our first 11 are decent. But we don’t play on paper and Bruce is very poor indeed. Apart from Willock there needs to be more spent on the team, or at least a few loans in. Our bench is very very poor with no game changers. And on top of that cabbage heed has no idea on when to make subs.


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