Aston Villa put the Magpies to the sword with a bruising 3-0 victory at Villa Park.
Within the first 30 seconds, Ollie Watkins set the tone of what would be a frustrating afternoon for Newcastle as he hit the post after running through on goal.
Newcastle, without their midfield engine Sean Longstaff, really struggled to control the middle of the park.
Eddie Howe’s side never got to grips with the movement of Watkins, in front of the watching Gareth Southgate, and his header on the stretch teed up Jacob Ramsey to fire in a deserved opener after 10 minutes of play.
Newcastle were fortunate to go in at half-time only a goal behind after Ramsey also rattled the woodwork before the break.
Aston Villa didn’t have to wait too long to double their lead, when shortly after the hour mark, Watkins spun in the area to fire past Nick Pope, moments after he had been denied by a narrow VAR offside call.
Villa Park has not been a happy place for Newcastle in recent seasons and it certainly didn’t look like anything would change on their latest visit.
Villa’s formation made it easy to bypass Newcastle’s press, something so many teams have found hard to do.
Watkins bagged his second of the game in the last ten minutes, as he fired past Nick Pope from Emi Buendia’s cross.
Howe described the performance as “uncharacteristic,” and he will be hoping his side put things right next week when they face Spurs at St James’ Park in a pivotal game for their Champions League aspirations.
This was Newcastle’s third successive away game, following victories over West Ham and Brentford. Those were on the back of a win over Manchester United at home, a punishing set of fixtures, to say the least.
This appears to be a bump in the road in what has been a magnificent season for Newcastle. A game they must move on from very quickly.
Qualifying for the Champions League is very much in their own hands—beat Spurs next week and they’ll move six points clear with a game in hand.
Howe will make sure his players understand that the performance against Villa was simply not good enough. There was very little fight in a side that has battled so hard this season, a worrying sign but perhaps just an indication of a tough run of fixtures.