Newcastle United desperately need a win to break out of a nine-match winless slump. They get the chance to do so tomorrow against Aston Villa, a club that they’ve had considerable success against over the last decade.
Player to Watch
Newcastle United: Jamaal Lascelles
With the club in a tailspin, the captain needs to step up tomorrow and pull them out. He will be expected to turn in a quality shift defensively, but I think he needs to do even more. Lascelles needs to be the leader that puts a fire under the players and also, when was the last time we saw him score a header from a corner kick or free kick in an EPL match? October 27th…2019! Maybe a goal for the skipper tomorrow would be just what the club needs in a closely-contested match.
Aston Villa: Ollie Watkins
The former Brentford man leads Villa with six goals, but he’s been in a bit of a slump lately. His last league goal came back in early November and he’s played the full 90 minutes in every match since (and before). Newcastle will need to make sure they don’t allow the 25-year-old forward to get his confidence back at their expense.
NUFC Availability Update
In some great news today, Steve Bruce announced the long-awaited return of Allan Saint-Maximin. The electrifying winger will be in the squad but shouldn’t be expected to start. Federico Fernandez will not play due to injury. Fabian Schar might be available and Dwight Gayle has been ill, but his Covid tests were not positive, so he seems to be up in the air.
Newcastle United will win if…
They turn in a great effort defensively. Obviously, the struggle for Newcastle United has been at the other end of the pitch, but Aston Villa enter the match as a top-ten scoring side in the Premier League. They’ve only been shut out once in their last six matches across all competitions. With the Magpies’ ineffectiveness scoring goals, they won’t want to get into a shootout with Villa.
Instead, they will need to lock in on the backline and capitalize on a potentially limited number of chances at the other end. Saint-Maximin could help break open a counter-attack late off the bench in his return.