Match details:

Venue: St. James Park
Date: Monday 20th February 2017
Kick-off: 20:00
Referee: Peter Bankes

Championship form:

Newcastle United: L D W W D

Aston Villa: D L L L L

Last time the two teams met: 24th September 2016 – Aston Villa 1-1 Newcastle United

Aaron Tshibola scored late on to grab a point for Villa after Tommy Elphick had put the ball in his own net in the first half.

Preview:

Another game, another defeat is the story of Villa’s start to 2017. Tuesday’s defeat to Barnsley was the club’s seventh defeat in eight games this year and saw the team slump to sixteenth in the Championship table.

Facing the league leaders when you are on such a bad run would not be something many would see as ideal but, in a way, it could work in the Villans’ favour.

The last two games have seen the Villa boys pile on the pressure, having over twenty-two shots in each game before going onto lose. With Bruce’s boys going into a game expecting to be under the cosh, it could see them playing in a more Bruce-like style. There have not been many games this season where the Villans have arrived as underdogs but this game really is one. The manager will look to absorb pressure and counter through the pace of Kodjia and Hogan.

The Magpies have shown that their weakness is at home this season for that exact reason: at times they have struggled to break down teams and have been hit on the counter attack. The Villans showed in Bruce’s first away game away at Reading that they have the ability to absorb pressure and take all three points with clinical play.

The Villans’ away record has been poor this season, having won only two games on the road against Reading and Queens Park Rangers. Not only do they struggle on the road, they also struggle when live on Sky.

Bruce reverted to the 4-3-3 formation for the game on Tuesday but the side got torn apart defensively so he may go back to the 5-3-2 formation that he used in the games before, to give a little his side more defensive stability, especially with the likely return of Mile Jedinak.

The hosts are in good form at the moment and did well to battle back in their 2-2 draw away to Norwich City on Tuesday. Rafa Benitez has done an excellent job in turning around their form after a poor 2015-16 season. As much as it pains Villa fans, they will look at the way everyone at the club has tackled this season and hope that they can replicate such form next season.

Team news:

Bruce should be able to welcome Mile Jedinak back to the starting line-up after he returned to training on Friday. The Australian has been struggling with a groin injury and has been missing for the last month.

Left back Neil Taylor will have a fitness test to adjudge whether he will be able to take part, although James Bree and Gabriel Agbonlahor are both still missing through ankle and hamstring injuries respectively.

André Green once again impressed when coming off the bench and he will be pushing for a place in the starting line-up should Bruce decide to stick to the 4-3-3 formation that he returned to for the mid-week defeat.

Rafa Benitez has a full squad to choose from and should welcome back top scorer Dwight Gayle to the starting line-up for the visit of Villa. The striker made his return to action after a month out,coming on as a substitute in the game against Norwich City.

Vernon Anita is also set to return to the fold after injury but may have to settle for a place on the bench.

One to watch:

Jonjo Shelvey

Image result for jonjo shelvey

Jonjo Shelvey (pictured) is an industrious midfielder, who is well known for his fiery temperament.

On his day he has the ability to spray inch perfect balls and also chip in with his fair share of goals, some of them magical.

He also has a darker side to his game and he has already been banned twice by the FA for racist abuse and reckless challenges.

One of his sendings off actually came for a foul on Villa’s Henri Lansbury earlier in the season. Shelvey believed he didn’t do anything wrong though and that could lead to an interesting encounter between the two on Monday night.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Worthy of mention – Expect Lansbury to receive a very hostile atmosphere from the Newcastle fans. His play antics and simulation led to the sending off of both Jonjo Shelvey and Paul Dummett in our game away at Forest. Both sending offs were subsequently overturned by the FA.

    Should be a good game which I think will end in a draw, you’ll certainly give us a run for our money!

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