Villa are in Newcastle Wednesday evening for what is arguably one of the most important fixtures of the season.
The club are doing their best to put a brave and optimistic face on the opening two performances, but as concerning as the the solitary point earned has been a lack of urgency on the field.
Whilst Smith has conceded that there will be a need to change the side due to the frequency of games, there is also the need to mix-up Villa’s playing style. Indeed, it is far too reserved and predictable for what is fast becoming a relegation dogfight.
Our opponents are of-course managed by former Villa boss Steve Bruce, relieved of his duties having failed to secure promotion from The Championship and a slump in the form the following season.
Bruce and Newcastle did what Villa couldn’t, which was show a ruthlessness in defeating Sheffield United (3-0), albeit only scoring their goals after Chris Wilder’s side went down to ten men.
The stark reality is that Villa have only have a finite amount of games that can can be labelled ‘winnable’. Newcastle simply has to be one of them. It is not a game, nor do we have the luxury, to continue to adopt this lacklustre conservative approach seen in both games since project restart.
With decidedly trickier opponents in Wolves, Liverpool and Manchester United looming and with relegation rivals West Ham/Bournemouth floundering, it’s time to demonstrate our intent to stay up.
- Kick Off 6pm (18:00 GMT) at St. James’ Park (Newcastle)
- Watch the game live on BT Sports. Highlights will be on Sky after-full time.
- Matty Longstaff is available for selection for our hosts.
- Former Villa defender Ciaran Clark is out through injury.
- Villa Injury Updates: Drinkwater, McGinn, Engels & Guilbert
- Wesley and Tom Heaton are out for the rest of the campaign.
- Villa have beaten Newcastle just once in the last 11 PL games.
- We have not beaten Newcastle on their own pitch in 11 attempts either.
- They are unbeaten in four at St James’ and haven’t conceded at home in that time.
- Villa are the only Premier League side not to keep a clean sheet away from home.
- Villa did though beat Newcastle 2-0 earlier this term.
- It would be our first double over the Magpies since 2004/2005.
- Newcastle have won just 3 of their 26 midweek PL games; all 3 in 2019.
- Any win for Bruce would be the third consecutive for the hosts.
- Villa have lost five times from a winning position this season.
- Villa’s defence has conceded 2 goals or more in 19 games this season.
- John McGinn could well be rested having been off the pace so far.
- Frederic Guilbert could return at right back after injury.
- Newcastle beat Sheffield United 3-0 last time out.
- Villa’s last Premier League win came away at Watford in January.
Aston Villa starting XI to face Newcastle United at St James’ Park:
Reina, Elmohamady, Taylor, Nakamba, Hourihane, Jota, Vassilev, Borja, Davis.
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