Aston Villa returned to winning ways in their first Premier League game at Villa Park since boxing day with a very comfortable 2-0 win over Newcastle United.
Dean Smith made just one change from the defeat against Man City with Marvelous Nakamba coming in for the suspended John McGinn. Smith who was also serving a touchline ban, would have been pleased with his side’s performance despite never really getting out of second gear all night.
It was Villa’s ninth Premier League victory of the season, the same amount they managed in the whole of last seasons campaign. Coincidentally it was also their ninth clean sheet of the season as Emi Martinez continues to impress, although he won’t have an easier 90 minutes that he did last night.
Ollie back in the goals
Villa’s first chance of the game come through Matt Targett, who was substituted against Man City with an injury. The left-back was fit enough to play and was the first to test Karl Darlow when the ball fell to him on the edge of the box after Newcastle cleared their lines from a corner. His volleyed effort went straight down the throat of the former Aston Villa academy goalkeeper.
Targett was once again involved a few minutes later when he crossed a dangerous ball across the goal but Ollie Watkins was just centre metres away from making contact.
The full-back was proving to be a constant threat for Newcastle and his next cross resulted in the opener.
Newcastle defender Fabian Schar tried to cut out the cross but his effort sent the ball looping in the air where Watkins was able to send a looping header over Darlow who was in no man’s land for his ninth goal of the season.
Villa should have doubled their lead a few minutes later through Ross Barkley but the Chelsea loanee was only able to send his header wide of the post.
The lack of fight and effort from Newcastle must have been hard to watch for Geordies. We have been there and know exactly how it feels to go through this with Bruce. Their lack of fight meant Villa never really had to get out of second gear. I am unsure if they were struggling for motivation or fitness was playing its part. Or it could have been both.
Newcastle had one approach. To play a long ball out wide for Calum Wilson. The forward who chose Newcastle over the Villa in the summer reportedly struggled to make any real impact.
Watkins looked to have doubled his tally for the afternoon when Jack Grealish set up the former Brentford forward but replays showed it was offside.
Villa soon doubled their lead with Grealish involved once again.
Newcastle cleared a corner as far as Nakamba, who switched the ball out wide to Traore. The winger showed great skill, evading challenges before a one-two with Grealish. He then raced into the box the meet the pass with a right-footed shot, crashing in off the inside of the bar.
The second half was dominated Villa with nothing really worth talking about. Villa were very comfortable as Newcastle never looked like trying to make a comeback.
Villa will take on Burnley on Wednesday for their third game in seven days and they will have a much harder game than the one Bruce’s side was able to offer.