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    Newcastle United v Aston Villa - Match Preview

    by Conall Green

    Aston Villa travel to St. James’ Park this weekend where they will face a resurgent Newcastle United in what is a must win game for the visitors on Saturday evening.

    Aston Villa boss Remi Garde will be hoping that his side will be able to end their club record 15 games without a win with victory on Tyneside as a draw is not much good to Villa, and a loss will see them cut even further adrift and staring relegation in the face. The omens do not look good for Garde’s squad as no team has ever stayed up with their meagre total of six points after sixteen games, while they are also guaranteed to be bottom at Christmas, with only three sides avoid relegation from this position in the history of the Premier League. One crumb of comfort for Villa fans is that the last two teams to stay up from this position were Leicester City and Sunderland in the last two campaigns.

    Garde will be without long term absentee Jordan Amavi, Micah Richards misses out with a knee injury, while Gary Gardner is rated as doubtful, but otherwise the Frenchman has a fully fit squad to choose from. He has recently commented on a lack of effort from Charles N’Zogbia, who will be unlikely to feature against his former side, while he has also hinted that fan favourite Gabby Agbonlahor will have to do more to force his way into the side. Despite Villa’s struggles in front of goal, Garde seems reluctant to turn to Czech striker Libor Kozak, with the targetman being linked with a January move to Scottish champions Celtic, so Rudy Gestede or Jordan Ayew are likely to start in attack.

    Kozak has been unable to force his way into new boss Remi Garde's plans.

    Steve McClaren’s Magpies have enjoyed a good recent run of form, winning three of their last five games, including their last two, which were fine victories away to Tottenham and at home to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. This has lifted Newcastle two points clear of the relegation zone, after they had won only once in the first 11 league games this term.

    McClaren will be hopeful Cheick Tiote, Rolando Aarons and Jamaal Lascelles will be available for selection after returning to training, but will again be without the injured Emmanuel Riviere, Massadio Haidara (both knee), Gabriel Obertan, Steven Taylor and Mike Williamson (all hamstring). Irishman Rob Elliot will continue to deputise for Newcastle’s number one stopper Tim Krul, the Dutchman still absent with a long term knee injury.

    It will come as no surprise that the bookmakers have made Newcastle favourites to win, especially in front of 50,000 passionate Geordies, and are odds on at 19/20. A draw, which doesn’t really suit either side, is priced at 5/2, while a Villa victory, which would be only their second this season, is a long shot at 14/5. Georginio Wijnaldum, who has returned to form in recent games, can be backed at 7/4 to find the net at anytime on Saturday.

    All seven of Wijnaldum's Premier League goals have come on Tyneside.

    Prediction: Newcastle United 3-0 Aston Villa (18/1). I can see another desperate defeat for Villa on the cards. Woeful in front of goal, porous at the back, and unwilling to try a new approach. Wijnaldum and Moussa Sissoko to be influential for the hosts once again.
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    Item Reviewed: Newcastle United v Aston Villa - Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Conall Green
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