All Premier League games are important and are Newcastle’s number one priority this season, but the game against Aston Villa this afternoon at St. James’ Park is especially important, and that’s because of at least two reasons.
One is that a win would give us 6 points from our first three games of the season and that would have us somewhere in the top six or eight, which is where we want to be, and the second reason is that whatever the result is today, we have to live with it for a couple of weeks over the International break, before we play Everton two weeks tomorrow night at Goodison Park. That’s going to be a very tough game.
Aston Villa are rock bottom of the Premier League today, after losing both their first two games under new manager Paul Lambert.
They lost 1-0 at Fulham on the first day of the season, and then lost 3-1 at home to Everton last weekend, but in mid-week they won 3-0 at home to Tranmere Rovers in the Capital One Cup.
But we know Paul Lambert is a very good manager, as he showed at Norwich City over the previous three seasons, and he’ll bring Aston Villa back soon, but hopefully not this afternoon.
Alan Pardew was full of admiration for the Villa manager:
“I think their manager has been really unlucky because they’ve have had so many injuries to senior players.’’ “But Paul Lambert cannot be judged or made accountable for those first two results in the Premier League.”
“I think they will be better against us as they will have one or two senior players back.” “Paul is a great manager. He has proved that by taking Norwich City through two divisions and into the Premier League. That’s brilliant.”
“I know he’s going to make Villa great again.” “He just needs his senior players back and he needs a bit more time.”
Lambert spent a total of £20M in the summer transfer market on Genk striker Christian Benteke, Crewe captain Ashley Westwood, Joe Bennett, Matthew Lowton, Jordan Bowery and Karim El Ahmadi, but he has made a poor start to his Aston Villa managerial career.
And debuts could be handed today to new signings Joe Bennett and Jordan Bowery.
Newcastle have some injury doubts with Ryan Taylor (knee), Shola Ameobi (hamstring) and Sammy Ameobi (hamstring) all not available, and Cheick Tiote is still doubtful with a knee injury. We are assuming James Perch has recovered from a neck injury he picked up on Thursday night against Atromitos.
If Cheick Tiote is fit, and we’ll assume he will be, then Newcastle could field their strongest side today – as follows:
Simpson Coloccini (c) Taylor (S) Santon
Ben Arfa Tiote Cabaye Gutierrez
Demba Ba Cisse
Subs: Harper Perch Williamson Obertan Gosling Anita Vuckic
That’s a strong starting eleven and a decent bench, and hopefully it will be enough to claim all three points this afternoon.
The keys to the game are that our defense will be very solid, and not let in any daft goals – and goalkeeper Tim Krul looked a little shaky on Thursday night on a couple of occasions so we hope that’s just a one off.
And of course we’ve lacked a cutting edge up front so far this season, and Alan Pardew has asked his two Senegal strikers to do a lot more than they’ve shown in the first two league games, so we hope both Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse are razor sharp today, and maybe both can score, as they did in this same fixture in early February.
And it’s an interesting fact that’s the only time they have ever both scored in a game for Newcastle, the first time they played together.
A win is what we want to see today, in fact we’re desperate for all 3 points, and a draw would be disappointing, but a defeat would be a total and complete disaster today.
Howay The Lads!!
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org