Newcastle cannot lose to Aston Villa – surely not?

It was always likely to be mission impossible to come away from the Etihad with anything, but the manner in which Newcastle rolled over and had their tummies tickled by Manchester City has put the spotlight firmly on John Carver.

Fans could rightly feel sorry for our caretaker manager who has been given a difficult task to turn the club’s fortunes around despite having very little managerial experience, but the 5-0 debacle is more evidence that a major change is needed in the summer. Bouncing back in the face of adversity is arguably the only way that Carver can redeem himself, with the upcoming game against Aston Villa at St. James’ Park providing a wonderful opportunity to put three points on the board and avoid being dragged into a relegation battle.

It seems inconceivable that Newcastle could lose to a team who have scored just four goals away from home all season in the Premier League, and with much tougher tests on the horizon, it is important that the Toon pick up points before they face QPR on May 9th in what could turn out to be a crucial six-pointer if results do not improve.

Make home advantage count

Playing at home will be enough in the bookmakers’ eyes to install Newcastle as favourites to beat an Aston Villa side who are seriously struggling, but the onus is on the players to make amends for the lack of effort and fight shown in Manchester by putting in a performance expected of any team who wear the black and white shirt.

Restoring pride may be a priority for Carver, but gaining three points is ultimately the most important target, particularly against a team who simply cannot buy a draw, let alone a win.

Any concerns over Carver and Mike Ashley’s contemptuous ownership of the club should be put to one side, with all focus being put towards a game that Newcastle simply cannot afford to lose. Daryl Janmaat and Remy Cabella could provide Carver with a much-needed boost if they recover from their respective injuries in time, but it will need a big performance from every Newcastle player to secure what could turn out to be an invaluable three points.

Relegation battle

His return to football management is an encouraging sign that young English managers are being given the chance to manage at the top level, but Tim Sherwood will have instantly realised the daunting task that lies ahead of him at Aston Villa.

A dramatic injury-time penalty denied Sherwood a point in his first game in charge against Stoke, with the joy of scoring – and taking the lead – instantly deflated by yet another defeat that has left Villa second bottom and just four points off the bottom.

The infamous phrase “too good to go down” may well apply to a squad that includes the likes of Fabian Delph, Christian Benteke and Ron Vlaar, but Aston Villa’s third consecutive relegation battle may prove to be a losing one if they do not shape up.

Sherwood’s arrival may provide Villa with the sort of lift that may make them dangerous opponents who Newcastle should not under-estimate, but if the Toon take control and start off on the front foot with Moussa Sissoko and Ayoze Perez causing havoc, then the Toon Army should go home happy after a win.