- Newcastle kept a clean sheet in each of their last five home games.
- Under 2.5 goals were scored in nine of Newcastle’s 15 Premier League home matches this season.
- Aston Villa failed to score in four of their last seven away fixtures.
- Newcastle are unbeaten in six contests at St. James’ Park.
Newcastle hit the ground running
Newcastle re-started their 2019/20 campaign with a bang on Sunday with a hugely impressive 3-0 win over high-flying over Sheffield United – a victory that served to highlight just how dangerous a team the Magpies have become on their own patch this season.
With the game tied at 0-0, John Egan’s sending off for the Blades in the 50th minute was the contest’s defining moment, and just five minutes after the visitors were reduced to 10 men, Newcastle grabbed the first of their three goals through the increasingly influential Allan Saint-Maximin.
The win pushed Newcastle’s unbeaten run at St. James’ Park to six games in all competitions, and remarkably, the Magpies kept a clean sheet in the most recent five of those, completing 450 minutes of action without conceding a single goal overall since January 14.
Their wider-picture record in the North East looks just as impressive, with just two defeats in 16 fixtures in all competitions at St. James’ Park since mid-August last year, and backed by that powerful home momentum, Newcastle in 13th, will be eyeing a late charge for a top half finish.
Villa losing grip on top flight status
Aston Villa meanwhile, blew a double chance to strengthen their survival bid when they failed to win either one of their back-to-back home games against Sheffield United and Chelsea last week.
The second from bottom Villains, are still just one point from safety following their 0-0 draw with the Blades and 2-1 reverse against Chelsea at Villa Park, but with the team low on confidence and low on goals, a late reversal of fortunes is starting to look unlikely.
Having failed to hit the net in three of their last four Premier League assignments, the goal threat that Dean Smith’s men seemed to carry in the early parts of the campaign has all but abandoned them, and another evening of struggle looks likely in the north east on Wednesday.
Goals likely to be at a premium
While Newcastle’s impressive home form makes marks them out as favourites to win on Wednesday, their modest goal-scoring output at St. James’ Park suggests a flurry of goals is unlikely.
The Magpies made the most of their one-man advantage to plunder three goals against the Blades – though that was the first time they managed to score more than twice at home in the Premier League all season.
Newcastle were unable to make any impact on the scoresheet in each of their three most recent home games before the break in successive 0-0 draws against Oxford, Norwich and Burnley, while under 2.5 goals were registered in nine of their 15 top flight tussles at St. James’ Park overall this season.
However, with the joint best home defensive record in the division this season, Newcastle’s biggest strengths are found at the opposite end of the pitch, and a routinely toothless Aston Villa outfit lack the final third quality to break down Steve Bruce’s notoriously frugal defensive unit.
Villa’s struggles in front of goal
With Wesley still out injured, new signing Ally Samatta struggling and youngster Keinan Davis failing to impress, Villa have major problems at centre-forward to contend with as evidenced by their failure to score in four of their last seven away games.
What ever angle you view it from and with the aforementioned factors considered, Wednesday’s fixture has all the ingredients of a low-scoring contest, and that in turn makes the under 2.5 goals market well worth backing at the prices quoted.
Newcastle’s home form and the confidence they would have gained from their resounding win over Sheffield United should combine to provide them with enough momentum to win again however.
Up until their 3-0 win over the Blades, Newcastle were the lowest scoring home team in the Premier League this season, so expecting them to cut loose in two matches on the spin at St. James’ Park makes little sense. The Magpies are averaging just 1.0 goals per 90 minutes on their own turf this term, and our correct score prediction of 1-0 backs them to keep within the boundaries of the season-long attacking limits they have set.
Key Battle – Allan Saint-Maximin vs Ezri Konsa
With first-choice right-back Frederic Guilbert still sidelined, Ezri Konsa is expected to reprise his role at full-back for Villa this week, and the fill in defender is certain to be given a tough workout by Newcastle flier Allan Saint-Maximin.
The Magpies’ French forward has thrust himself centre-stage as Steve Bruce’s man-main and most potent attacking weapon this season, and fresh from his opener against Sheffield United, Saint-Maximin should have self-belief to shine again.
Newcastle United vs Aston Villa team news
The Longstaff brothers are still doubtful, while Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett could miss out again for the Magpies. Long-term absentees Jetro Williams and Jack Colback are both ruled out, however, Steve Bruce should be able to name an unchanged XI against Villa.
Newcastle possible line-up: Dubravka, Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Rose, Ritchie, Shelvey, Hayden, Saint-Maximin, Almiron, Joelinton
John McGinn needed an ice pack on his hamstring after he was withdrawn against Chelsea and might be kept back this week to avoid worsening any injury. Trezeguet or Jota could come in to freshen up the Villa attack after an uninspiring final third showing against Chelsea.
Aston Villa possible line-up: Reina, Konsa, Hause, Mings, Targett, Hourihane, Nakamba, Luiz, Trezeguet, Grealish, Davis