Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa Preview

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Published: 02/02/2012

Newcastle United square off against Aston Villa at St James’ Park on February 5 with European qualification well and truly on their radar leading into the final third of the campaign.

Due to their excellent eleven match unbeaten start to the campaign and a recent upturn in form post-Christmas, Newcastle have managed to hold their position in the top six of the Premiership and are still, remarkably, just five points off a fourth placed finish which would bring Champions League football to Tyneside for the first time since Bobby Robson was in charge.

Although that feat is likely to prove to be a pipe dream rather than a reality, Alan Pardew has instilled a great deal of resolve and work ethic amongst his squad and they will be pushing all that they can to try and close the five point deficit which they currently have to make up on Chelsea and Arsenal.

But with those aforementioned clubs both prone to dropping points, a strong, consistent run from the Toon Army could at least give them a fighting chance come the last few games of the season.

Aston Villa are however likely to provide a stern test for the Magpies and there is indeed a feeling that Alex McLeish’s side are starting to creep into form.

In terms of their long term prospects for 2011-2012, Villa are nine points behind Newcastle and have probably left it too late to make their presence felt in the top half of the table.

Nevertheless, an Aston Villa at their best somewhat leaves their current league position of eleventh looking false and this particular match could be an even encounter – with Villa looking to follow up an excellent derby win at Wolves when last on the road.

The acquisition of Irish marksman Robbie Keane on loan has transformed the Villains into a formidable attacking force and their 2-3 success at Molineux demonstrated that they now have a proven striker to put an end result to the creativity of young stars such as Barry Bannan and Marc Albrighton.

With a new confidence to go out and win games instead of merely trying to contain their opposition, Villa may well be able to assume an edge over a Newcastle outfit that can look vulnerable at the back when put under sustained pressure.

Keane looks to be a reformed danger man and with Newcastle still missing their equivalent in the shape of Demba Ba who is on African Nations Cup duty, the visitors can steel all three points if they demonstrate the same will to win as they did against Mick McCarthy’s strugglers.

Villa will have to erase the memory of recent history if they are to triumph – they have been comprehensively beaten on their last three visits to St James’ Park including when drubbed 6-0 in August 2010.

But that inexperienced Villa team is gradually coming of age and with a revenge mission on the agenda, the 3/1 available for a narrow smash and grab success looks too good to miss.


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