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Aston Villa 2 Newcastle 0 – The Match Report

1 week ago
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Aston Villa 2 Newcastle 0  – Monday 25 November 8pm

Well, working in Birmingham is never fun, what with the complicated road systems and miserable locals, it’s a place I always try to avoid.

However, with Newcastle playing there on Monday night I thought why not?

The tone for an awful evening was set when I realised I had picked a hotel opposite the Star City entertainments complex, where a riot complete with machetes had taken place just a day or so earlier. Star City is a modern entertainments complex set in the middle of a very bleak industrial part of Birmingham with a few unwelcoming housing estates close by.

Heading to the ground via the myriad of underpasses that are needed to negotiate getting across the already mentioned complex road systems close to Villa Park, it was apparent what an unwelcoming place this is. What few pubs we passed were clearly home fans only, unlike the friendly city centre of Newcastle where all and sundry can mix pleasantly. Aston Villa may purport to be a big club but outside the ground, from the direction I came from, it has a very small-minded outlook.

As I passed the supposedly famous Holte pub, I asked myself, famous for what?

Certainly not famous for being welcome and friendly, unlike the Strawberry in Newcastle. It clearly does portray an image but one of just being very grim. Am I being too harsh? Maybe it was the miserable weather contributing to my thoughts? I doubt it! Villa Park comes into view and it is well at home in the grim surroundings, its dark features blend nicely into the dreary landscape.

Entering the ground earlier than I would normally like to, I was excused the normal beer chucking antics of our own fans, why? Because it is alcohol free for visiting fans, now I have been here a few times over the years but I simply don’t recall this being the case in previous visits, it begs the questions why is the City of Newcastle and NUFC so hospitable to visitors? Answer is simple, Geordies are classier people than our West Midlands friends – am I developing a serious chip on my shoulder, or is 2009 still lingering in my memory?

Onto the match.

Well you will all have seen it. We were to be honest average at best and while I have been complimentary of Steve Bruce in recent times, he has to take the flak also. He was a fine centre-half in his day so you would expect his defence to at least know how to defend set-pieces but last night two errors at free-kicks cost us. Incidentally, seconds before the first goal we should have had a free-kick up the other end, but a referee who gave us nothing all night had already set the tone, it does not get away though from the fact the defending was awful.

Mike Ashley is blamed for not splashing the cash but let us remember one thing, he spent £40 million on Joelinton, Rafa reportedly did not want Joelinton and the deal was seemingly done before Bruce arrived, so who sanctioned and approved this deal?

I have got nothing against Joeinton, he is a grafter who for large parts of the game was isolated and feeding off scraps. We can all see that he does not look like a £40million player but I truly hope I am wrong about him and that he turns the corner and proves us wrong.

Then we have ASM and Almiron standing out wide on the right and left, I am no tactical genius but surely when you have an isolated forward they need to be inside and one or both playing as a number 10. ASM cut a frustrated figure last night and in my eyes, unless Andy Carroll is playing he needs to be playing on an inside channel. Almiron it has to be said was awful but he was not alone as a number underperformed last night. I do however have faith that he will come good…after all Rafa signed him!

Second-half we did look better as we chased them down a bit and hounded them into making mistakes and with a bit of luck we could have got back into it, however, it has to be said they also could easily have added to their total as well.

The Villa fans were their normal gloating selves at full-time but it was the only time they made any significant noise. Meanwhile, I had to backtrack down the previously walked route the other way, it was no more welcoming than before the game, despite the result.

So it’s Man City this weekend and what do we expect?

Nothing but a heavy defeat but Football does funny things, it certainly did in January earlier this year and for me we have got nothing to lose. While it is not quite a free hit, it is a game where despite my negativity I believe we can get something out of, but the manager must play his best players, and if Schar is fit he has to start, simple as.

It is possibly too soon for Lejuene though.

Up front, if you’re going to persist with wingers then maybe Andy Carroll can start. Whatever Steve Bruce chooses, he needs to take Joelinton out of the firing line before the fans turn on him.

Have a great week

Stats from BBC Sport:

Aston Villa 2 Newcastle 0  – Monday 25 November 8pm

Goals:
Aston Villa:

Hourihane 32, El Ghazi 36

(Half-time stats in brackets)

Possession was Villa 62% (68%), Newcastle 38% (32%)

Total shots were Villa 17 (5), Newcastle 11 (5)

Shots on target were Villa 8 (3), Newcastle 5 (2)

Corners were Villa 11 (4), Newcastle 6 (5)

Crowd: 41,821 (3,000 Newcastle)

Referee: Lee Mason

Newcastle team v Aston Villa:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Fernandez, Dummett (Carroll 63), Clark, Willems, Hayden, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin, Almiron (Atsu 79), Joelinton (Gayle 72)

Unused Subs

Darlow, Krafth, Matty Longstaff, Schar

(Steve Bruce verdict on Villa, his front three and says “You are always going to miss your best players” – Read HERE)

(Aston Villa 2 Newcastle 0 – Match ratings and comments on all NUFC players – Read HERE)

(Dean Smith spells it out to Steve Bruce “We controlled the ball really well and dominated possession” – Read HERE)

(Chris Sutton on Aston Villa 2 Newcastle 0 – ‘Steve Bruce could have thrown cabbages at his own players’ – Read HERE)

(Aston Villa 2 Newcastle 0 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Monday’s defeat – Read HERE)

(Aston Villa 2 Newcastle 0 – Watch official match highlights and goals HERE)

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