Pre-kick off, the match between Newcastle United and Aston Villa was known to feature two of the three most out of form teams in the Premier League. For our part, the Toon Army were anxious to get a look at a number of their shiny new signings; they would not be disappointed. Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran were handed their Toon debuts straight away, and they would not disappoint.
The first half was exactly what you would have wanted to see from Newcastle United in this match. The infusion of confidence that the side clearly got from Sissoko and Gouffran clearly influenced the rest of the side in a positive manner. It was a 45-minute window of 2011-12 Newcastle United, and it was a glorious feeling. With Sissoko and Cabaye pulling the strings from the center of midfield and the entire side exuding a calm that we had not seen in 9 months, it was hardly a surprise when Sissoko found a Cabaye-esque pass to Papiss Cisse in the 19th minute and it was just like 2011-12 Papiss Cisse was here as he slid cooly under Brad Guzan to give the Toon an early lead.
Newcastle were still exerting control over the match as a cleared free kick fell kindly to Yohan Cabaye about 22 yards out - the Dreamboat took one touch and uncorked a spectacular effort that swerved across the goal and beat Guzan into the side netting. That was in the 31st minute. Newcastle United would control the remainder of the first half, and at halftime, you would have been forgiven to think that there may have been a bucket full more in it for the Toon.
Halftime happened, and then the second half came... and Paul Lambert did -- something. Admitting that his initially intended system was being annihilated by Newcastle, he brought on Andreas Wiemann and Gaby Agbonlahor (side note, why would you ever leave Agbonlahor out against us? We make him look like a world beater every. time. he. plays.) and Aston Villa came out with their jock straps on fire.
Mike Dean awarded Aston Villa a penalty in the 49th minute when Mathieu Debuchy was adjudged to have fouled a Villa attacker just inside the penalty area - Christian Benteke stepped up and made no mistake from the spot, and it was 40 minutes of stomach-in-the-throat type play for Newcastle as they tried to hold on for all 3 points on the road for the first time this season. As much as the first half looked like 2011-12 NUFC, the second looked exactly like 2012-13 NUFC and all of its shortcomings. There is reason to believe that the new additions may be the tonic needed to help the Toon survive, but it's some time off yet and this one was... lucky.