This was another frustrating outing ahead of a group of decidedly difficult fixtures looming against Wolves, Liverpool and Man Utd.
Villa started positively, opting to make changes to the starting line up and almost reaped rewards with some chances early doors, with Trezeguet guilty of missing a sitter inside ten minutes.
However, whilst the pace was slow, Newcastle remained threatening. This was as much about Villa’s questionable defending, requiring Mings to make more than one timely intervention and Nyland blocking a drive from distance.
The second half saw some goals, with the hosts getting the opener through former Albion striker Dwight Gayle.
If we do get relegated, it will be in part because of our dreadful lack of defensive concentration, as both Mings and Hause drifted out of position towards Andy Carroll on the touchline.
Gayle, fed by Carroll, found himself with only Konsa to overcome, and placed the ball beyond Nyland.
This did stir Villa into life, rolling on Hourihane and Nakamba for the ineffective Trezeguet and McGinn.
As the clock ticked down, it was another sub who delivered some impact, Egyptian international Elmohamady grabbing the equaliser. Who knows how vital this equaliser could prove to be in the weeks ahead.
Newcastle, aside from Saint Maximim, were pedestrian and lacked any great invention. They are likely safe and might be the first with one flip flop on the beach.
This is what drives frustration in Villa’s style of play. Across 90 minutes we made the same mistakes, wasted good opportunities from set plays, vulnerable down the flanks and lacking ideas in the final third.
Annoyingly we were also predictable tactically, taking an age to realise that supporting Samatta with Davis would test our hosts.
We leave St James’ Park with a point but head into a difficult game against Wolves, quite simply, needing to win.
A couple of spilled saves does little to inspire confidence. Did well to recover from a first half palmed save, but often seems to create many of his own problems. Couldn’t do much for the Newcastle goal, with the defence having gone AWOL.
Tried to recover for Hause and Mings for the Newcastle goal and not at fault for that. Put in a decent cross for an early Villa effort. Improved upon his performance against Chelsea, but looked by no means as assured as against Sheffield United
Made two vital blocks, tackling Joelinton on 37 minutes after Hause had been dispossessed/foul not given. Also got a vital touch in the second half (56 minutes) after Rose found space in the area. Performance undone by some shaky moments that cannot be overlooked. Found himself ghosted past by Saint-Maximin on 57 minutes, with a desperate lunge for good measure. Totally incomprehensible positioning for Newcastle goal, drawn to the touchline near Andy Carroll, leaving Gayle totally unmarked.
Struggled to make an impact on the game and found himself chasing shadows in defence. Had a near miss late in the second half, heading a backpass out for corner beyond Nyland. Looked uncomfortable all game.
The Scottish international was more present than against Chelsea, but struggled to make any meaningful impact. His engine in midfield remains a visible loss. Unlucky not to be able to do more with a Grealish floated cross on 15 minutes and followed up with a good run on the half hour mark only to head over. Had another effort from the edge of the box blocked on 71 minutes before being withdrawn.
Whilst you can’t fault the man’s effort, quality and compusure is lacking. Positioned well at the far post on just 6 minutes, found by El Ghazi, but scuffed an effort into the ground and over the bar. Ultimately our best opening of the game wasted. Had another opportunity after the break, again from an El Ghazi cross, opted to attempt what would have been an outrageous headed effort that sailed wide when well placed. Under-whelming.
Grew into the game despite constant fouling from the opposition. Would often look up to see an isolated Samatta ahead of him, fared better once Davis was in support. Became more dangerous as Newcastle tired and delivered a fine whipped ball late on. Villa struggled to get Grealish on the ball and he struggled to make much happen whilst he was on it.
In and out of the game, emphasising most fans frustrations. Delivered two fine crosses in either half, with chances squandered by Trezeguet and Samatta. The Dutchman might point to those moments of waste from team-mates, but he is guilty too. An opportunity to break on 49 minutes saw him burst forward before inexplicably firing a cross into the terrace behing the goal. Woefully inconsistent.
One of few who looks to be on an upward curve in terms of form. A tireless runner and made a number of timely interventions and blocks throughout the game, particularly one on 33 minutes as Newcastle pressed. Booked for standing up for himself on 45 minutes by the hapless referee. Industrious off the ball and moved the ball intelligently when he had it, a good display.
Struggled for the same reasons Davis has done for being so isolated up front. Benefitted for Grealish being deployed more centrally and looked better for Davis coming on and Villa switching to two up front. Will be dissapointed with a missed headed chance on 13 minutes, either unsighted or reacted too late when placed well to score in the centre of the goal. Hard to judge with such limited opportunity in front of goal.
Davis – Physically dominant when he came on and supported Samatta well. Took far too long, 3 games in fact, for Smith to realise this.
Nakamba – His best substitute appearance since games have restarted. Made a couple of composed interventions in midfield as Villa looked to salvage a point.
Elmohamady – Delivered a good cross and scored the vital equaliser. A clever run to the near post, followed by a low nodded effort into the goal. Showed the value of his domestic and international experience when it counted.
Hourihane – Either deadly or desperate with the ball. Delivered a fine corner for the winner, but wasted a great chance in injury time, failing to even get it into the box.
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