Following on from our more than creditable comeback at Goodison Park last weekend, Newcastle United make the long hauled trip from the north for tomorrow`s 3pm kick-off at Villa Park.
To come from behind, not once but twice, away to a well organised and resilient Everton demonstrated the character and tenacity flowing through the ranks. Although the performance was far from picture perfect many positives have been drawn from the result with Alex McLeish`s men demonstrating the needed steel and grit to grind out such results away from home. With it, we also maintained our unbeaten start to the season and will look to carry that on against the Toon Army who are also replicating the aforementioned trend.
Alan Pardew`s team have just come off the back of a 0-0 draw at Loftus Road against newly promoted Queens Park Rangers and were unlucky not to snatch all three points.
Both teams are proving hard to beat with the northerners losing just one in ten Premier League games, whereas ourselves have lost one in twelve.
Incidentally, Paul ‘God` McGrath will be gracing us with his presence as he returns to Villa Park to help support Acorns Children`s Hospice in their biggest fundraiser of the season.
The gentle giant has said:
‘It’s an honour to be asked to come back to Villa Park and support such a great cause.’
It will be fantastic to see you again m`lord!
The gaffer has confirmed this week that Emile Heskey will be out for up to three weeks after pulling his hamstring on Merseyside last Saturday.
The former England international limped off after 17 minutes and was replaced by the wee-man Barry Bannan.
It looks as if he will be back in time to face one of his former clubs Wigan Athletic on 1st October.
McLeish confirmed the injury blow on the club`s official site:
‘Emile’s got a nick in his hamstring and that’s not an overnight job, so it will be a few weeks – two to three, maybe even longer. Whether he’s a quick healer, I don’t know his history.’
‘We could ill afford to lose vital members from the squad but it’s a challenge for somebody else. The challenge is for players who might come in just to say ‘well I’m going to make it hard for Emile to get back into the team.
‘It’s incredible, he’s been playing all the games right to the wire and looked really strong and then you have a two-week break and you think that’s great – the players will be able to ease the muscles and relax.
‘We worked hard during that break, we weren’t off for two weeks, but they got some respite. But there’s still an injury within 20 minutes of him coming back. But I think it was more in the way he landed as opposed to fatigue or anything like that.’
In the black and white camp, midfielder Jonas Gutierrez has vowed that the Magpies will look to make life difficult for the Villans and take something back to the north-east.
He told the Chronicle:
‘The next game is Aston Villa, and they have a lot of new players.’
‘We have to get a good result – if we can`t win, we have to take a point and they will have to battle hard to get it, like QPR.
‘We are always together – the team spirit is good here.’
Aston Villa Team News:
Heskey is out for three weeks with a hamstring problem. Eric Lichaj is also out for the foreseeable future after undergoing surgery on his hip.
Jermaine Jenas will not be figuring against his former club but is line to make his debut against Bolton Wanderers next week in the Carling Cup.
Player to watch: Shay Given
Since arriving from Eastlands in the summer, Shay Given has endeared himself to the Villa faithful with a string of wonderful displays.
His save particularly in the dyeing embers last weekend made sure we took a point back down the M6, where others may have faltered.
He will line up against a club who he holds dear to his heart having played 12 years of his career at St James` Park.
His involvement in between the sticks has proved invaluable in our undefeated streak.
Newcastle United Team News:
The Toon is awaiting the results of a scan for Davide Santon after he buckled on his right knee in training on Thursday.
The Italian is yet to make his debut since joining from Internazionale and may have to prolong that wait with his manager believing he has a cartilage problem.
Player to watch: Tim Krul
I am maintaining the trend of the goalkeepers this week with Tim Krul being the player to watch for the visitors.
The Dutchman has firmly established himself as the number one at St James` Park and is proving to be invaluable having showcased an array of top class displays in guarding the onion bag.
He recently made his debut for the best international side in the world with the Netherlands – according to the FIFA World Rankings that is – against Brazil, and followed it up with another cap against Uruguay.
At 23 years of age the future is bright for the Dutchman and Darren Bent and co will find it exceptionally difficult to beat him tomorrow.
Match Facts & Stats
Villa have won the last two meetings at home to Newcastle by a goal to nil.
I think we will sneak this by two goals to nil.
Newcastle are well disciplined – now Joey Barton is starting his twitter rants at QPR – and efficient. They will be tough to break down in the middle of the park, especially with Cheick Tiote making his presence known.
Their downfall may be the lack of firepower they possess up top. They do however have some creativity in Gutierrez who will look to make an influence and Ryan Taylor being a threat at dead ball situations.
Nevertheless, I think we possess the greater threat in the final third and should grab the spoils.
The Trotters (Bolton Wanderers) will trot their way to Villa Park this Tuesday night for our League Cup meeting.
Ross` twitter; @RossMackiewicz