The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Newcastle 2016
Both Villa and Newcastle were promotion favourites at the start of this season, but Villa haven’t lived up to the billing so far this season.
Despite ultimately being relegated, the arrival of Benitez lifted the mood in Newcastle and that has continued into this Championship campaign.
Things are always unpredictable in this league, but the difference in form makes this Di Matteo’s toughest test yet. Throw into the mix a recently-reignited rivalry and it makes Saturday’s game an important fixture.
Who will prevail in the battle of the Champions League winning managers?
Di Matteo on Newcastle
“They have probably started the season a little bit better. I think they are little bit more settled than us as a team.
Benitez on Villa
“It is a big game and it shows how important English football is around the world as people will be watching.
“If you analyse what Villa have it’s big club with big players. People expected them to be near the top. They’re still a massive club.”
jordan ayew has had the joint most shots in the Championship this season (21)
Benitez on the Championship
“You can see a lot of players and good managers in there. There are big clubs and the Championship is still one of the strongest leagues in the world.
When you analyse it you see the Spanish League, Serie A, Bundesliga up there but the Championship is fifth or sixth in terms of money and calibre of people. I think it’s really important and the level of the clubs in it gets bigger.”
7th May 2016 Villa 0 Newcastle 0
Newcastle were unable to secure three points as they battled for survival against already-relegated Villa.
Villa – Last five matches at home: W 1, D 4
Newcastle– Last five matches away: W 3, D 1, L 1
Villa have failed to beat Newcastle at home during the last five encounters at Villa Park.
One to Watch
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
Look away Villa fans, it doesn’t make for comfortable reading…
OK, we’re exaggerating a bit, but our record against the Magpies is weirdly bad – they’re unbeaten in their last 10 most recent league encounters with Villa.
“People expected them to be near the top. They’re still a massive club.” – benitez on villa
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
The statistics look worrying, and Villa’s form has been disappointing, but let’s not get too pessimistic.
Sure, Newcastle have been on a fantastic run, but the table doesn’t always tell the full story.
We’ve already spoken too much of missed chances and how Villa should have won games comfortably. If you think about it, Saturday could give us an opportunity to show the opposite of this.
Teams have visited Villa Park this season desperate to come away with a point, parking the bus and unfortunately nicking an equaliser.
Newcastle will be in no mood to settle for a point, however, which could give Villa more opportunities to make the most of the neat attacking moves we’ve seen flashes of.
While we’re not sure what will be happening with Grealish yet, Albert Adomah is now fully fit, so could have the chance to show more than he did in his cameo appearance last weekend.
Add to this that Tshibola could feature too and all of a sudden the midfield looks much stronger – it will need to be!
By our reckoning (and doing a little more straw-clutching!), the last time we won a televised game came around this time last year – against none other than Birmingham City. We’re long overdue a win in front of the TV cameras.
Hopefully we can build on our defensive improvement last weekend at Ipswich, and lay down a marker for the season with a win on Saturday.
The latest MOMS podcast…what’s up with the Villa midfield? Jedinak’s Jungle and much more…