So, following a summer of frenzied activity, at last we return to matters in NE1. Last Saturday`s win at Bolton was the perfect fillup to wet the appetite, with goals, attacking verve and some passion restoring the hearts of away day goers. First up at home are an Aston Villa side who have done little to strengthen an already thin squad. Carson has joined on loan from Liverpool to keep nets, whilst Reo-Coker and Harewood have departed the boo-boys at Upton Park to join Martin O`Neill`s slow-going revolution.
The Villa fans I`ve spoken to are still a little amiss at the fact Randy Lerner has pledged such a big pot of money and O`Neill isn`t dipping into it. Having lost the likes of Ridgewell, Samuel, McCann and Delaney they seem to be crying out for new blood defensively. Whilst there first choice back four looks pretty decent on paper, with Scandinavians Mellberg and Laursen in the middle especially prominent, you have to say that any injuries to one of these key men will definitely harpoon them.
Last season saw a tough midweeker against them. We flew out the blocks and quickly went 2-0 up before Ashley Young pegged us back to 2-1 with a back post finish. Villa huffed and puffed, with Carew giving our centre halves a real working over, before we broke away for Super Sibierski to score. I don`t expect anything dramatically different this time round, with Villa`s pace in the side always likely to cause problems on the break, Agbonlahor prominent in this, whilst Petrov and Barry are also pretty smart players pulling strings from the centre and left respectively.
For us – the less changes the better. Owen may be fit but it would be scandalous to drop anyone to accommodate him. Martins looked this business against Bolton and surely Owen coming off the bench would be a more fearful weapon than letting him feel his way back to fitness in such a fast paced match. I`m expecting big things of the Duke this game as well, following a quiet start v Bolton. Again the midfield battle will be key, so hopefully Smithy, Gezza, Butty and Jinky Jimmy will be well up for it.
Newcastle Team News:
Owen back – potentially for the bench. No Dyer, as the West Ham move eases to completion, and probably no Nobby – Pompey calling. Otherwise Jose En
Player to watch: Mark Viduka
For some reason I’ve got that feeling the Duke is going to be on fire come Saturday.
Aston Villa Team News:
This lot lined up v Liverpool on Saturday:
Taylor, Gardner, Mellberg, Laursen (Cahill 46), Bouma (Moore 71), Petrov, Reo-Coker, Barry, Agbonlahor, Carew, Young.
Subs Not Used: Harewood, Osbourne, Maloney.
Player to watch: Gabby Agbonlahor
He’s not called RoadRunner for nothing. He used to be a sprint king and now he seems to be weighing in with a few goals for the Villans.
NUFC v AVFC in the EPL
2006/07: Won 3-1 Milner, Dyer, Sibierski
2005/06: Drew 1-1 Shearer (pen)
2004/05: Lost 0-3 No scorer
2003/04: Drew 1-1 Robert
2002/03: Drew 1-1 Solano
2001/02: Won 3-0 Bellamy 2, Shearer
2000/01: Won 3-1 Glass, Cort, OG
2000/01: Drew 1-1 Solano (FAC)
1999/00: Lost 0-1 No scorer
1998/99: Won 2-1 Shearer, Ketsbaia
1997/98: Won 1-0 Beresford
1996/97: Won 4-3 Ferdinand 2, Shearer, Howey
1995/96: Won 1-0 Ferdinand
1994/95: Won 3-1 Venison, Beardsley 2
1993/94: Won 5-1 Bracewell, Beardsley 2, Cole, Sellars.
Howard Webb. Crap.
2-1 to Newcastle – Viduka to notch a brace, Moore for Villa.