Newcastle faces Aston Villa as part of MD14 on Saturday and that should have meant that, in the current context and state of affairs, the Magpies would oppose Unai Emery.
Emery, in case you missed it, just took charge of the Villans a few days ago after the Lions inevitably decided to part ways with a very disappointing and underperforming-on-the-bench Steven Gerrard. The record from the Liverpool legend while managing Aston Villa was, simply put, beyond putrid.
Emery, also, was the man initially targeted by Newcastle’s new owners last year to take on the head coach post once the takeover got completed. Emery, of course, rejected the offer and stayed in Spain managing Villarreald for the full season and helping the Yellow Submarine to overachieve in the UEFA Champions League as they reached the semi-finals of the competition. That was a sublime work, no matter how you look at it.
Funnily enough, it had to be Aston Villa of all teams facing Newcastle this weekend, with Unai Emery now the main man on Villa’s bench. Or is he?
Turns out, Emery will miss this clash because he has yet to clear some work permit and visa issues and he won’t be able to sit on Villa’s pine until Nov. 1 and ahead of the club’s match against Manchester United next weekend (Sunday, Nov. 6).
Sometimes, the world works this way. Sometimes, one cannot explain.
In a few words: it’s been a mess at Trinity Road in Birmingham for a while now. Aston Villa have not done a single positive thing since Gerrard arrived and took the reins of the Lions. That hiring, mind you, was signed on Nov. 11 of 2021, not even one year from this day.
And the disastrous start to a promising-on-paper 2022/23 season sealed the deal for Gerrard managing this team and, ultimately, adding some more hurdles between his desires of eventually managing his beloved Liverpool and that actually happening.
After finishing last season in the 14th position of the Premier League table and stiffing relegation, Villa find themselves sitting 15th in this year’s campaign. Not bad!
The problem, of course, is that Villa have 12 points in 12 games played for an average of—you guessed it—1.00 PPG. Not quite bright, that is. The record is a mediocre 3W, 3D, and 6L and most concerning of all were the 11 goals and 16 goals against. Less than one bagged per match, but more than one conceded. Dubious efficiency.
Remove last weekend’s game (a 4-0 victory over Brentford) as Villa already had gotten rid of their cancer in Gerrard, and things were looking much worse just a week ago: four consecutive games without a single victory (the last one on Sep. 16) including matches against newly-promoted Fulham and Nott. Forest, melting Leeds, and Chelsea.
Perhaps Emery fixes and improves Villa and the Lions can finish in the top half of the table. Perhaps Villa should have stuck with caretaker-manager Aaron Danks. A Danks who, again, crafted a masterplan to absolutely demolish Brentford at a measly 37 years of age. A Danks who, of course, has England U21, Belgium giant Anderlecht, and Aston Villa in his assistant resume.
A Danks who, for hell’s sake, tied Gerrard in 4-0 victories while having been in the post less than a week... compared to Gerrard’s lone 4-0 effort in a full calendar year in charge and 40 matches managed. Sheesh.
It’s a shame the list of players above doesn’t include managers because featuring both Unai Emery and Steven Gerrard would have been quite a flashy, top-tier-club coup!
Diego Carlos made the rumors to join Newcastle this summer but ultimately he signed with Aston Villa—bullet dodged—only to get injured for the full season in early August having played all of two games and 179 minutes. Money well spent, indeed.
Perhaps even better spent were the €20m the Villans went on to pony up to poach him from Barcelona. Barcelona is now out of the Champions League and Phillipe Coutinho is out of any and every relevant football conversation. Better spent in theory, I meant.
Dendoncker has played even fewer minutes than Diego Carlos, Robin Olsen is just a backup GK and will never force Emi out of the goalposts, and Boubacar Kamara, he of the free transfer, has been the best acquisition in the Gerrard Era.
You get an idea of how things have gone in Birmingham in the past few months.
We could actually keep on going and discuss the selling of Matt Target to Newcastle. Target who, as good as he is, is not even finding a way into the Magpies’ XI because the lads above him have been UCL-level unplayable. Not that any player from Villa has a guaranteed starting role in this club, anyway.
The same goes for Carney Chukwuemeka who has logged all of 46 minutes with Chelsea’s first team over three games. If there is something Villa know how to do then that’s definitely selling players at above-market value, then having them underplaying for whichever club signed them, and finally re-investing the money raised from those sales in mediocre players that don’t even grace the pitch or do so in ugly conditions.
Lord have mercy for the Lions.
As many as 169 times have these two squads faced each other with the record favoring the men from Tyneside. Newcastle have the edge over Villa by a sizable margin of 72-58 with 39 matches ending in a draw.
The first matchup took place in the 19th century when Villans and Magpies went against each other on Feb. 1985 and Aston Villa destroyed Newcastle to the tune of a 7-1 victory. Ah, how things have changed...
Actually, that’s not entirely true when it comes to the super-most-recent results between these two as Villa have somehow won or drawn five of the last six games against Newcastle getting back to Nov. 2019. Sadly for them, they hadn’t won a game against the Magpies in the whole Sep. 2011 to Feb. 2017 span.
Crazy run of results from the Magpie lads!
With only 11 goals scored this season and four of them coming this past weekend, I mean, it’s not that Villa have been banging them in bunches. It’s the elder Danny Ings still leading the way for the Lions with three goals in those 11 games, definitely nothing gaudy but still reasonable for an underperforming club.
Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey are the only other Villans with more than one goal scored for AV. And they also are the only two players with more than one assist, twice apiece.
Young Ollie is not so young anymore but he’s definitely the man bringing the most hope to the Lions and their fans in the stands with 5.9 xG+xA... but an actual production of two goals and two assists over 1,005 minutes of play through 12 games this season.
It’s telling that Ashley Young, 37 years old but still going strong, is the player rated the higher by FotMob and other football platforms. Another man who seems to have no clue about what hanging the boots means, by the looks of it.
Eddie Howe spoke to the media on Friday providing some fresh takes on Newcastle’s state of affairs just hours before tomorrow’s game.
You can read everything Howe had to say here, as part of our pre-match coverage.
When and Where’s flowin’
- Date: Saturday, October 29th
- Kick-off: 15:00 BST / 10:00 EST / 8:00 PST
- Location: St James’ Park (England)
- Broadcasts: Talksport 2 Radio UK (UK), Peacock (USA), fuboTV (Canada)
For all your international watching needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com.
How’s it goin’
Coming Home, Crystal Ball: Newcastle 3-0 Aston Villa
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Howay the Lads!