It was a very disappointing first half for Newcastle as they trail 2-0 at the break. Our defense was hard to break down, but two free-kicks have proven to be Newcastle’s undoing. The lads have shown very little threat in the final third.
Newcastle started off the game by sitting very deep and inviting pressure from the hosts. There were a few nervy moments at the back, but Newcastle were able to come away unscathed early on.
However, a silly foul from DeAndre Yedlin on a through ball to Jack Grealish led to free-kick just outside the box. Conor Hourihane’s subsequently curled the free-kick around Joelinton on the edge of the wall, and Dubravka was beaten at this near post. It was a poor foul and the wall did not do its job.
Just four minutes later, in the 36th minute, Conor Hourihane stepped up again for another free-kick from a Fede Fernandez foul. Newcastle failed to account for Anwar El-Ghazi, who was able to get on the end of the delivery and put the ball in the back of the net.
Newcastle’s plan to soak up pressure and hit Aston Villa on the break has not worked. While the defense was solid in open play early on, they did not get the job done on the two set-piece goals. DeAndre Yedlin is also being targeted by Aston Villa and is struggling.
We would expect Villa to sit back a bit in the second half. Bruce will have to make some adjustments and try to at least salvage a point.