Infoinsport.com – After a memorable meeting during the pre-season, Newcastle United and Aston Villa will face each other once again on Saturday as they start their new Premier League campaigns at St James’ Park.
After playing a six-goal friendly in Pennsylvania, two teams that exceeded expectations last season will meet again in Tyneside, where Villa’s last victory in a top-flight match dates back to 2005.
It is a remarkable achievement for Newcastle United coach Eddie Howe to transform a team that was fighting to stay in the Premier League into qualifiers for the Champions League in less than two years. Under Howe’s leadership, the Magpies secured a fourth-place finish in the top division last season.
Howe, who took charge at St James’ Park after Unai Emery withdrew at the last minute this week, has been able to bring out the best in his squad. As a result, he has now included Milan midfield maestro Sandro Tonali and former Leicester City winger Harvey Barnes in his options for the 2023-24 season.
Preparations have been promising for a season in which Newcastle will finally return to the Champions League. Last month, they arrived in America for the Premier League Summer Series, having already achieved a couple of pre-season victories against Gateshead and Rangers.
While in the United States, the Magpies encountered Aston Villa for the first time since the West Midlands team achieved a convincing 3-0 victory at Villa Park towards the end of last season. After managing to tie 3-3 against Emery’s team, they went on to achieve another draw against Chelsea, and ultimately secured a 2-1 triumph over Brighton & Hove Albion.
Upon their return to their home turf, Newcastle easily defeated Serie A team Fiorentina and La Liga’s Villarreal without allowing a single goal. This served as perfect preparation for their upcoming match against Villa on Saturday.
The North East giants have not been defeated in their previous 14 Premier League home matches against their Claret-and-Blue rivals from Birmingham. They have emerged victorious in eight of those encounters, indicating that history is in their favor prior to the start of the game.
In addition to the previous acquisitions of Sandro Tonali and Harvey Barnes, both of whom are expected to start on Saturday, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe has the opportunity to include £32m full-back Tino Livramento in the lineup. Livramento recently joined from Southampton after recovering from an injury that kept him out for a major part of the previous season.
At the beginning, Swedish striker Alexander Isak competes with Callum Wilson for being chosen. The latter has achieved 11 goals in his past 12 Premier League matches, with an average of one goal every 58 minutes, making him the leading scorer in the league since April’s commencement.
Additionally, Wilson, who has scored on the first weekend of each of the previous three seasons, has netted fewer Premier League goals in August compared to Raheem Sterling (15) and Sergio Aguero (14). Nevertheless, there is uncertainty regarding his starting position.
Anthony Gordon, who impressed for England Under-21s and helped them become European champions this summer, will compete with Barnes for a spot in the team as a supporting player for the hosts’ central striker.
While Newcastle will be without Emil Krafth, Javi Manquillo, and Joe Willock due to injury, and there is a doubt regarding the availability of first-choice centre-back Fabian Schar, Aston Villa’s main absentees are Alex Moreno (hamstring), Emi Buendia (knee), and Jacob Ramsey (foot). Additionally, Aaron Ramsey, the younger brother of the latter, is also ruled out as he approaches a permanent transfer to Burnley.
Villa has experimented with a three-man defense in pre-season, making it uncertain how Unai Emery will arrange his team this weekend. However, it is highly likely that Moussa Diaby will begin in the attacking position, as he has already made a significant impact by scoring in both of his initial two friendly matches for the club.
Ollie Watkins, the top scorer from last term, scored goals against both Lazio and Valencia earlier this month and will be leading the visitors’ attack.
Newcastle United possible starting lineup:
Pope; Trippier, Botman, Schar, Burn; Tonali, Guimaraes, Joelinton; Almiron, Isak, Barnes
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Konsa, Torres, Mings; Cash, Kamara, Tielemans, Digne; McGinn, Diaby; Watkins
The score of the match between Newcastle United and Aston Villa was 1-1.
Two teams aiming to replicate the success they achieved last season will only manage to earn a single point in their first league game of the 2023-24 season. This is because they are evenly matched and unable to distinguish themselves. Both teams possess a range of offensive capabilities, and Villa’s defensive reorganization is expected to aid them in dealing with Newcastle’s strong attacking lineup.