BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson expects Aston Villa to record a bounce-back result when Newcastle United travel to the Birmingham-based outfit on Monday night.
Villa are without a win in the Premier League since beating Brighton & Hove Albion at home in October, with Dean Smith’s men beaten in their subsequent top-flight fixtures against Manchester City, Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The loss at home to Jurgen Klopp’s title-chasing Reds and away to their West Midlands rivals came with late winners, as Sadio Mane fired home in the 93rd-minute while Wolves’ Patrick Cutrone hit the decisive strike with six minutes left on the clock.
Lawrenson feels Mane’s strike acted like a punch to the gut for Villa, as they could not recover and were left crashing back down to earth having enjoyed a strong October with a 5-1 win over Norwich City and the three points achieved at home to Brighton.
It was a similar run of form to what we have achieved of late, with Steve Bruce able to orchestrate a three-game unbeaten streak featuring a draw with Wolves, a 3-2 win at West Ham United and a 2-1 triumph over AFC Bournemouth.
But Lawrenson expects that run to reach its end on Monday night when we travel to Birmingham to face Aston Villa, where even a win for the hosts cannot see the Villans overtake us in the Premier League table.
“Former Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce returns to Villa Park with his Newcastle on a good little run, after taking seven points from their past three games,” Lawrenson wrote in his weekly predictions for BBC Sport.
“It was not long ago that you could say the same about Villa, who went on an identical run at the start of October, but they have lost their past three league games.
“Villa have not really recovered from losing so late on against Liverpool, and the past few weeks have been a bit of reality check for them. That is what life is like for a promoted team, with as many downs as ups, but I think Villa will be smiling again on Monday night.”
What will the result be on Monday night?
Lawrenson has backed Smith’s side to edge to a 2-0 win, which would be only the second time that we have allowed the opposing side to score twice since losing heavily away to Leicester City in September.
Villa have not struggled to score during their six home league games this season, though, as the claret and blue cladded club have only been denied a goal once and have thrice hit sides twice.
They are also averaging 13.7 shots per game when at home, while we are allowing the opposing side 16.3 when away from St. James’ Park and our only clean sheet on the road came in the 1-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur in August.