Both Aston Villa and Newcastle United are unbeaten in their games this season, so this can be tabled a match between the unbeatens.
We had hoped that Davide Santon would be able to make his debut this afternoon, but that alas, will not now be possible, as he picked up an injury to his right knee on Thursday, and the Italian could have key-hole surgery on it early next week.
And we wonder how many changes Alan Pardew will make from the team that played well in defense on Monday night at QPR, but showed no penetration whatsoever up front, and no hold on the game in midfield either.
We have a feeling that the Newcastle manager will not change the personnel too much today, but will play in a 4-5-1 formation rather than the attacking 4-4-2 set-up he played in London, which left Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote out-numbered in central midfield.
That would mean that one striker will be dropped and Shola Ameobi deserves to drop to the bench, after a very frustrating game, and it will leave Leon Best on his own up front.
With three preferred in central midfield, it could be that Dan Gosling gets the chance he has been craving today.
Dan wasn’t even in the match day 18 picked for the game at Loftus Road, but he scored two and made one in the Reserves 6-0 hammering of Norwich City, and that’s what you need to do to get the attention of the manager.
Ryan Taylor did not have a good game on Monday night, but we still expect him to retain his place, since there are not too many alternatives, although one is certainly to play young Shane Fergson at left back, and Alan may even do that.
But this is the side we think he will choose for this afternoon’s game:
Simpson Coloccini (c) Taylor (S) Taylor (R)
Obertan Cabaye Gosling Tiote Gutierrez
Subs: Harper Ferguson Guthrie Ameobi (Sj) Demba Ba Marveaux Ameobi (Sa)
That means there is no place on the bench for Peter Lovenkrands, James Perch or Alan Smith, and of course Pardew could very well play Danny Guthrie as the third central midfielder, rather than Gosling.
It will be interesting to see who is the back-up goalkeeper too, as Steve Harper is now fit and played the full game for the Reserves on Tuesday afternoon. Newly arrived 25 year-old Rob Elliot was on the bench on Monday evening in London.
The keys to this game for Newcastle are that the defense again has a solid game, and continues with the luck they have had so far this season, but that the lads control the game more and show a lot more penetration when attacking..
And of course we have to hope that Ryan Taylor has a better game at full back today, but we expect him to do just that.
The midfield has to take a firm grip of the game, which they have never done too many times this season, but five across the midfield should help them do that.
And of course Newcastle must score the goals, and it’s another huge chance for Leon Best, but also for players like Demba Ba and Sammy Ameobi who we expect may get a run out in the second half.
This game is being televised live around the world, so it’s a chance for Newcastle to show they are a much more attacking side than they showed us all on Monday night.
Aston Villa are a decent side this season again, and a draw would be a satisfactory result today, but we’re also sure that Alan Pardew and his men will be going all out for the win.
Anything but a defeat would be good.
Howay The Lads!!