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Villa vs Newcastle Match Preview / Predictions

Two of the Premier League’s unbeaten six sides go head-to-head at Villa Park on Saturday with McLeish’s men hosting a Newcastle side that have conceded just once in 4 games.
Carlos Cuellar is reportedly recovering well from knee surgery but young right-back Eric Lichaj went under the knife this week and will be out for up to 4 months with a hip problem. The right-back berth will therefore be contested by new signing Alan Hutton, who made an unspectacular debut against Everton, and youngster Chris Herd.

After the Australian picked up a man of the match performance against Wolves he was harshly dropped for the Scot last time out and in my opinion deserves a recall as competition for places can only be healthy. Good performances like said display against Wolves should be rewarded but McLeish is likely to stick with his more experienced fellow countryman.

Jermaine Jenas and Emile Heskey are also both out meaning Fabian Delph is likely to keep a place in the side despite a shocker of a decision which led to an Everton penalty last time out. If Jenas were fit I think he would have started. Heskey’s absence should mean that Barry Bannan is given another chance to impress, ahead of Stephen Ireland, though I still feel there is room for both to play.

I believe that a more attacking formation could be deployed at home, particularly in games seen as ‘winnable’, which would see Petrov serve as the sole anchor man. This would potentially allow any two from Bannan, Delph, Jenas and Ireland more scope to attack, with threat from Gabby Agbonlahor and Charles N’Zogbia out wide.

McLesih’s first home game saw Villa beat Blackburn in a promising display though he stuck to the two holding midfielders and is likely to do so once more, which at least affords Bannan more of a free role to create.

Bent will start up front despite a slow start to the season, with Agbonlahor impressing thus far on the left. Villa will be hoping for more from the reasonably quiet N’Zogbia thus far against his old club. The former Toon winger has a good record at Villa Park; in fact he netted the winner the last time Newcastle won at the ground back in 2006. Villa have won all four games since and will be hoping that the Frenchman can prove to be the match winner once again come Saturday.

Although both defences have been much improved this season, I can see goals in this one. Leon Best is likely to start for the visitors alongside either Ameobi or Ba, while new signings Obertan and Cabaye have had decent starts to their careers under Alan Pardew. Davide Santon has also been brought in and could prove a good addition to the side, though Ryan Taylor and Danny Simpson are likely to keep the Italian out due to the back-lines exceptional defence record thus far.

Pre-Match Predictions

Possible Villa XI (4-2-3-1): Given; Hutton, Collins, Dunne, Warnock; Petrov, Delph; N’Zogbia, Bannan, Agbonlahor; Bent.

Key Man: Barry Bannan

Goalscorer(s): Agbonlahor, N’Zogbia, Bannan

Final Score: 3-2

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