Two teams aiming to unsettle the top teams in the Premier League will face each other at Villa Park on Tuesday as high-flying Aston Villa take on last season’s surprise package, Newcastle United.
While Villa still hold a position in the top four despite a slight dip in their recent results, Newcastle could slip into the bottom half if they suffer another defeat this midweek.
After a goalless draw with Everton in their previous Premier League match – which was Unai Emery’s first goalless draw in the English top flight after managing 97 games – Aston Villa played out another draw in their latest fixture, an away game against Chelsea in the FA Cup.
Having only managed a 1-0 win against Championship side Middlesbrough in their first game of 2024, Villa has been struggling to find the back of the net recently. They have won just two of their last six matches.
Although they have a cup replay ahead with a place in the fifth round at stake, Emery will be eager to regain his team’s momentum on Tuesday evening when they return to home turf.
Villa will be playing at Birmingham after a run of three consecutive away games. They have won 16 of their last 17 Premier League home games since their 4-2 loss to Arsenal in February of last year. In fact, they have been trailing for only 43 minutes at Villa Park in the league this season.
Emery has built an attacking team, but their recent success is also attributed to their defensive strength. They have conceded just nine goals in the first half of top-flight matches this season, which is the fewest among all teams.
Having remained unbeaten in their last six home matches against Newcastle United, Villa has won the last four encounters without conceding a single goal. They will look to continue that streak and seek revenge for their disappointing defeat against Newcastle on the opening day of the season.
Newcastle, after their impressive 5-1 victory over Villa in August, are aiming to secure a Premier League double over their opponents for the first time in ten years.
However, the Magpies arrive in Birmingham on the back of four consecutive Premier League defeats, conceding at least three goals in each of those matches. As a result, they have dropped to 10th place in the table.
Since their win against Manchester United at the start of December, where they secured their seventh victory in ten league games, Newcastle has struggled to gain points.
They currently hold the record for the fewest points accumulated by any team since that victory. However, they have found some solace in the FA Cup, having defeated Sunderland 3-0 in the third round and Fulham in the previous round.
The recent break came at a good time for Newcastle as their treatment table was full and signs of mental fatigue were evident.
Now, they return to top-flight action, hoping to achieve success on the road. Their away record in the Premier League is one of the worst, with just five points and leading for only 136 minutes in their travels this season.
Aston Villa Premier League Form: W W D L W D
Aston Villa Form (All Competitions): D L W W D D
Newcastle United Premier League Form: L W L L L L
Newcastle United Form (All Competitions): L L L W L W
Colombian forward Jhon Duran, who was recently linked with moves to AC Milan or Chelsea, will be out of action due to injury and is expected to stay at Villa Park for the next few months.
Emi Buendia and Tyrone Mings remain long-term absentees, while Pau Torres (ankle) and Jacob Ramsey (thigh) are also sidelined.
Bertrand Traore is still with Burkina Faso at the Africa Cup of Nations. However, Lucas Digne is nearing a return from a thigh problem.
With Duran out, Ollie Watkins will lead the line uncontested. The England striker has been directly involved in nine goals in his last eight Premier League home games and needs only one more goal to reach 50 in the top flight.
This would make him the third Aston Villa player to achieve this milestone, following Gabriel Agbonlahor (74) and Dwight Yorke (60).
On the other hand, Alexander Isak is Newcastle’s main attacking threat, having scored in each of their last three league games. Callum Wilson, his competition for the center-forward position, is still recovering from an injury.
Harvey Barnes is close to making a return, but Joelinton, Sandro Tonali, Nick Pope, Elliot Anderson, Joe Willock, and former Villa defender Matt Targett remain unavailable.
Kieran Trippier, who was recently the subject of a bid by Bayern Munich, hopes to overcome a minor groin issue.
However, it is uncertain whether Miguel Almiron or Jamaal Lascelles will be selected after being left out of the squad on Saturday amid transfer speculation.
Aston Villa Possible Starting Lineup: (4-4-2)
Konsa, Carlos, Lenglet, Moreno;
Bailey, Luiz, Kamara, McGinn;
Newcastle United Possible Starting Lineup: (4-3-3)
Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn;
Longstaff, Guimaraes, Miley;
Murphy, Isak, Gordon
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Newcastle United
Both teams have been inconsistent in recent weeks, with Villa struggling to score goals and Newcastle’s defense being exploited. Both sides have benefited from the recent break, so we expect a closely contested match with little to separate them.