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Villa vs Newcastle Preview/Predictions: Clean Bill of Health

Aston Villa host Newcastle on Sunday in a 4pm kick off tie which see both sides seeking revenge. This fixture two years ago on the closing day of the 2008/09 season saw Newcastle confined to relegation to the Championship, a fact which no Tonn fans have forgotten. For Villa, an early season humiliation at St James Park saw a Chris Hughton managed side romp to a 6-0 home victory thanks to an Andy Carroll hat-trick and a Kevin Nolan brace. The good news for Villa is that they will face neither come the weekend, backed by the advantage of having a clean bill of health throughout the squad and the return of Ciaran Clark from suspension.

Gerard Houllier has selection problems a plenty ahead of the visit of Alan Pardew’s Newcastle following a decent 2-2 draw away at Everton. Abject performances from the likes of Kyle Walker and Gabby Agbonlahor come under threat with youngsters Ciaran Clark and Marc Albrighton waiting in the wings.

Walker passed a late fitness test to face the Toffees but put in a miserable display, giving away possession for the first after nearly doing so minutes before and missing a glorious chance to boot. Ireland international Clark returns from a two-match ban after incurring 10 yellow cards and will fight for a place, though deputy left-back Luke Young performed admirably on his return last time out.

Richard Dunne was also decent alongside a decidedly less so James Collins so Carlos Cuellar will also be hoping for a recall. Gabby Agbonlahor did little to nothing in last Saturday’s game, despite being reinstated as a second striker, and could well be rested for Albrighton. Emile Heskey will be hoping Houllier sticks with a more adventurous 4-4-2 alongside Darren Bent and, personally I think this is a partnership that needs testing, though I predict a revert to 4-4-1-1 with Young in support once again.

Newcastle are considerably hampered having lost Andy Carroll to crazy money and captain Kevin Nolan to suspension. The player to score the remaining goal in the season’s earlier 6-0 win, Joey Barton, will skipper the side in his absence.

In midfield they are also without Cheik Tiote who has become a fans favourite, as he completes a two-game ban, with James Perch also suspended. In a reverse the side welcome back Ryan Taylor from suspension and receive their most significant boost in the fact that full-back Jose Enrique could be fit, though the Spaniard is still a doubt.

Leon Best is out for the season while Dan Gosling, Alan Smith and Hatem Ben Arfa are also missing. Stephen Ireland, on loan from Villa, is also injured but would not have played due to his ownership by Villa anyway.

Pre-Match Predictions

Possible Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Friedel; L Young, Collins, Dunne, Clark; Albrighton, Makoun, Reo-Coker, Downing; A Young; Bent.

Key Man: Darren Bent

Goalscorer(s): Bent, Downing

Final Score: 2-1

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