I don't think that there's much secret that you could have meme-ified my face at the closing of the transfer window yesterday. Surely I could've given Mckayla Maroney a run for her money with a very unimpressed face of my own. That was then, and this is the next three months of our season with or defense dangerously thin with the long-term loss of Ryan Taylor. Anyway, I digress. (Can you digress when you never really got to the point in the first place?) Aston Villa come to St. James' Park this weekend for a Premier League match that will either help us get over the transfer window inactivity or will cause the jump-off-a-bridge types to ... well... jump off a bridge.
There are sections of the support base for Newcastle United that will never forgive Aston Villa their fans' behavior on the final day of the 08-09 Premier League season and thus will always want this scalp, which is fine. Probably the more cogent issue in this match is that we should take something from it. As a side with Champions League
aspirations goals this season, this Aston Villa side who have seemingly yet to find their footing completely under new manager Paul Lambert is certainly one that we should show well against.
There is sure to be much play for the "Well, Newcastle were in the Europa League on Thursday" angle, but Alan Pardew was able to rest much of his starting XI (the exception being Demba Ba), so there should be no issue in this. What could potentially be an issue is the injury picked up by James Perch in the match v. Atromitos - if Newcastle are unlucky enough to pick up an injury along the back against Villa, it will be doubleplus ungood.
Aston Villa, for their part, have started slowly and are currently propping up the table - a situation I don't anticipate will continue as the season wears on. They are a side with a number of talented young players, but are also struggling with some serious early injury woes. Gabriel Agbonlahor is a long-term knee casualty from their American tour; the English striker will surely be sorry to miss this one as Newcastle United have had a tendency to make him look like a world beater on regular occasion. Also missing will be Mark Albrighton, the young winger who started 15 matches for Villa last year.
Villa have brought in 8 new faces over the transfer window (including a final two on deadline day) and look to be retooling to fit Paul Lambert's style... and while they don't at all yet mirror Lambert's Norwich City side from last year, you may remember the 4-2 embarrassing that Norwich gave us at Carrow Road (granted, our CB pairing for that match was a daunting Perch-Simpson combo), but you have to think that Lambert might know something about the Toon as his Canaries proved a stubborn test in the return at St. James', losing 1-0 but making themselves a general nuisance for the full 90 minutes. We appear to be catching them at the right time as Lambert's new charges are still yet to gel completely for this season. I expect that it will be a completely different story in the return at Villa Park.
- Newcastle United lack only two goals to make the 1,000 goal mark in the Premier League era. Will we make it this match? Who's your man to do it?
- Historically, Aston Villa have not met much success at St. James' Park. They have won only 14 league matches at Newcastle's stadium.
- Villa's last victory at SJP came in 2005 when Graeme Souness' men sent the Villans back to Birmingham with a lovely 3-0 victory in their pockets. You may remember this from the incident that saw Lee Boyer and Kieron Dyer sent off for the Toon... for fighting each other.
- Aston Villa have not scored in their last 4 matches away from Villa Park.
- With our 10th penalty being conceded last week v. Chelsea, Newcastle have taken the lead in the "penalties conceded since the start of 2011-12 season" stat. It would seem a good tactic to just get the ball in the box and fall down, as you might get the call. (Granted Atrmoitos would beg to differ)
Newcastle United FC
Currently: 1-0-1, 3 points - 10th place.
Possible: Cheik Tiote (calf), James Perch (neck)
Projected XI (4-3-3): Krul | Simpson, S Taylor, Coloccini, Santon | Cabaye, Anita, Jonas | HBA, Cisse, Ba
Projected Subs: Harper, Tavernier, Ferguson, Bigirimana, Amalfitano, Obertan, Marveaux
Aston Villa FC
Currently: 0-0-2, 0 pts - 20th place
Out: Agbonlahor (knee), Albrighton (foot), Dunne (groin), Gardner (knee), Carruthers (ankle)
Projected XI (4-4-2): Givenl | Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Barker | Herd, El Ahmadi, Bannan, N'Zogbia | Delfouneso, Bent
Projected Subs: Guzan, Holman, Ireland, Delph, Lichaj, Weimann, Burke
What Will Certainly Not Happen:
Newcastle will come in with their heads down and something to prove to everyone (their own supporters included).
Newcastle United 2 (Cisse, Cabaye) - 0 Aston Villa