After last week’s victory at Stoke the mood has changed considerably, especially given the signings of Sanchez and addition of new CEO Tom Fox. For a minute it seems we can forget about the instability at Villa Park. There’s a certain freshness about the squad somehow, despite limited spending. Inconsistency blighted our last two campaigns, though – how will Lambert’s men kick off their home record against Newcastle?
Lambert on Poor Home Form
“There’s a different feeling the way the group is.
“I don’t see it (playing at home) being a problem any more. We are definitely a stronger group. Their mentality is stronger and physically they are stronger.
“When we get our strikers back (Benteke and Kozak) we are going to be really strong. I don’t have any fear about our home games. We just have to go and win.”
Lambert on Newcastle
“You can talk about inconsistency but they have always finished strongly, they have always been up there. It is a club with high expectancy levels as well, a bit like ourselves.
“Alan Pardew has done a really good job. There’s only so many teams can get into Europe, there’s only so many teams can win the title.
“It’s hard, it’s really, really tough and it’s getting harder with teams getting stronger in the League. But they are still a great club. It’ll be a tough game but we are certainly a lot more equipped for this one.”
Pardew on Roy Keane
“Roy is a good football person and a good person to have in the dressing room, but I also think Paul Lambert is a great manager. It strengthens his hands to have good people around him.
“I am looking forward to testing the technical game we are going to have.”
Pardew on Villa
“We face a Villa side which has just picked up an away win and in the Premier League. That is gold-dust, so they will be feeling fairly confident to turn us over at home and we have to make sure we are a really stiff opposition.
“They have good players – they still carry great players, Aston Villa, and it will be a difficult game.”
“Villa Park is somewhere where we have played well and we have proved we can win there.”
17th September 2011 – Aston Villa 1 Newcastle 1
Agbonlahor opened the scoring but a goal from Leon Best drew things level. One of many home draws during McLeish’s reign, but it remains the last time we took points from Newcastle at Villa Park.
Villa – Last five matches at home: W 2, D 1, L 2
Newcastle – Last five matches away: L 5
Villa have won twice against Newcastle in the last five home encounters – both occasions finished 1-0 (in 2008/09 and 2010/11).
One to Watch
Remy Cabella – The transfer of Cabaye was a big loss for Newcastle but the newly-signed attacking midfielder has the potential to take his place
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Newcastle ended last season poorly but because of the points they’d gained earlier in the campaign still finished in a good position. However, their activity in the transfer window has left them well-equipped for this season. Decent money has been spent on the likes of Cabella, Rivière and Janmaat and such additions will make Pardew’s men a tough test on Saturday.
Our record against Newcastle is very poor. They’ve taken 13 points from Villa in our last five Premier League encounters, and will be hoping for a repeat of last season when they won 2-1 thanks to goals from Ben Arfa and Gouffran. Despite a debut appearance from Libor Kozak, it was a game Villa fans would rather forget – it was the game that saw Okore sidelined for the rest of the season. At least Ben Arfa won’t be involved this time…
What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide
A disciplined defensive display helped Villa to a win over Stoke last weekend and the impressive work of debutants Senderos and Cissokho suggested that the defensive woes of the last two seasons are a thing of the past. Stoke were frustrated by a hard-working, team performance, and if that can be replicated at Villa Park our home form this season could be a whole lot better. Hopefully we can pick up from where we left off last season when we beat Hull 3-1 in our last match at Villa Park and confirmed our Premier League status.
Why Villa have got this game in the bag
On the surface it looks like this will be a very tough game, but football’s a funny game. Our home form last season was incredibly poor (we’ve only won nine of our last 31 home matches) but while rumours surrounded the future ownership of Villa we won two of our last home games of the season and drew once. Not bad for a team who are apparently “better away” (despite not winning any of their last nine games away last season). In six of the last seven Premier League ties against Newcastle we’ve scored, albeit once on each occasion, so if we match last weekend’s defensive standards three points could well be ours. Pardew’s new additions will probably feel like they have gelled after a decent performance against Man City, but Newcastle have lost their last five away games, and Villa could make it two wins in two matches. UTV.
Follow Lewis on Twitter – @rymondfootball