Aston Villa are back in action tonight when they welcome former manager Steve Bruce and his Newcastle team to Villa Park.
It will be Villa’s second game since their return from their Covid outbreak and they will be hoping for a better result than the 2-0 defeat against Manchester City in mid-week. Come to think of it, they will be hoping for a better performance from the officials too but I won’t get into that.
Newcastle fans are not happy. They are unhappy with the results and the performances being served up by Bruce. We have been there and we know exactly how it feels. They will feel that it’s them against Bruce and his media friends in the media. It’s all about who he used to manage, rather than the product on the football pitch. Despite all the pressure on the manager, we also know he can pop up with a win when he needs it the most to take the pressure off for a day or two so we need to be at the top of our game.
I don’t want to completely bash Bruce. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want Bruce when we appointed him back in 2016. At first, he was exactly what we needed. Someone to install belief and stop the ship from sinking. He did that quite well at first.
The problem was it was soon clear to see that he was out of his depth tactically and when things didn’t go his way, he turned on the supporters. Similar to what he seems to be doing now at Newcastle. Once that happens, it’s always just a matter of time before you are on your way. Maybe he is smarter than we think and it’s actually his cunning plan to get sacked for the big pay off?
Villa will be without manager Dean Smith who received a one-match touchline ban following his comments regarding the officials juggling balls in mid-week. Madness I know, especially what you can hear managers say every game more so now than ever to the officials. That’s the modern game ladies and gentleman.
Smith’s men will be hoping to build on their fitness levels and performance tonight and return to winning ways following no win in three, since that 4-0 win over Crystal Palace. Newcastle have failed to win in seven, nine in all competitions.
Smith stated in his pre-match press conference on Friday morning that all his players had recovered and all had the green light for tonight’s fixture.
Trezeguet will be back in the squad and available for selection while Villa will be without Scotland International, John McGinn through suspension, who somehow picked up his fifth yellow card of the season when the rest of the watching world thought Douglas Luiz has been booked.
Newcastle could welcome back Allan Saint-Maximin who has been missing since November with Covid-19 and then a series of niggling injuries.
Fede Fernández and Ciaran Clark are major doubts but Fab Schär could return.
Referee: Simon Hooper.
Assistants: Dan Robathan, Derek Eaton. Fourth official: Mike Dean. VAR: Paul Tierney. Assistant VAR: Dan Cook.
DID YOU KNOW
If Aston Villa keep a clean-sheet tonight, it will be the first time they have managed three clean sheets in a row at Villa Park in the Premier League since 2012.
Newcastle have an impressive record over Villa, losing just one of their last twelve (W6, L5).
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Aston Villa v Newcastle United will be shown live in the UK on Sky Sports Main Event.
Steve Bruce has generally struggled against Dean Smith in the past when the two have come up against each other. I am sure I am not alone when I say I used to dread playing against Brentford in the Championship because you knew we didn’t have a chance.
However, I am not stupid. As I already mentioned, I know full well what Bruce is like. He tends to fluke a win when he needs it most so all his media friends can say a temporary ‘told you so’ to the Newcastle fans. We must be at the top of our game tonight and given our recent results, despite the opposition, we could do with putting three points on the board.
Aston Villa 3-1 Newcastle United.