Buidling Dreams Together


Premier League 2023/24 match preview: Newcastle United v Aston Villa

Newcastle United and Aston Villa, two clubs who have experienced rapidly-accelerated progress recently, face off at St James’ Park in the opening Saturday’s late kick-off.

Eddie Howe’s hosts had one of the greatest seasons in their modern history in 2022/23, qualifying for this term’s Champions League with a fourth-placed finish, whilst also reaching the Carabao cup final. 

All this was achieved with several players who were lodged in lower mid-table previously, such as Fabian Schar, Joelinton and Jacob Murphy.

Italy midfielder Sandro Tonali, Leicester City’s England winger Harvey Barnes and highly-coveted Southampton full-back Tino Livramento, have been signed this summer to compliment the already transformative additions from last season, in Nick Pope, Sven Botman and the heartbeat of the team, Bruno Guimaraes. 

The Tonali capture will in theory aid Guimaraes’ game further, by adding a greater level of protection at the base of the midfield, enabling the no.8 to affect games in the final third more and improve on his five assists and three goals from the prior campaign.

Saturday represents the chance for Newcastle to make a mark on the Premier League table before a highly-testing Champions League group stage gets underway in mid-September.

The visitors arrive in the North-East also buoyed by the prospect of a long-awaited European campaign. Unai Emery’s Villa rode the crest of a wave when he was appointed in November, and qualified for the Europa Conference League as a reward for collecting 49 points in 25 matches. 

Ollie Watkins had his best season in front of goal in the year just gone, racking up 15 strikes including a brace when these two sides last met, a 3-0 triumph for the Birmingham outfit at Villa Park.

Villa’s spine has been supplemented in pre-season with the arrivals of centre-back Pau Torres, who played under Emery at Villarreal, French forward Moussa Diaby in a club-record £48 million deal from Bayer Leverkusen and Youri Tielemans, who joins on a free transfer.

The Villains’ momentum combined with their win over Howe’s side in April, means that they will be optimistic of ending a dismal run away at Newcastle come the weekend. 22 years have passed since their last victory on Tyneside and they have lost on their previous two trips.

Team News

Newcastle should hand debuts to all three new signings, with Harvey Barnes likely to partner Miguel Almiron and either Callum Wilson or Alexander Isak in their starting front three. Anthony Gordon will provide competition for one of the wide forward roles however, after excelling at the Under-21 European Championships in the summer.

Tonali is a strong candidate to slot into the 11 alongside Joelinton and Guimaraes, but Livramento may have to make a substitute appearance, with left-back Dan Burn contributing to an exceptional back five last term.

Joe Willock and Fabian Schar are both doubts for the visit of Villa, whilst Javier Manquillo and Emil Krafth are confirmed as being out.

Unai Emery’s preparations for the upcoming season were dented after attacking midfielder Emiliano Buendia tore his anterior cruciate ligament on Wednesday, potentially ruling him out for the whole campaign. 

Phillipe Coutinho, Leon Bailey and Jaden Philogene will be vying to replace him in the wide forward positions.

Diaby should make his debut upfront alongside Watkins, although Tielemans and Torres may have to appear from the bench due to Villa’s impressive depth in midfield and defence.

Alex Moreno and Jacob Ramsey are two further important absentees and neither will return to the side until after the first international break.

Lineups and prediction

Newcastle (4-3-3)

Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn; Tonali, Joelinton, Guimaraes; Barnes, Isak, Almiron

Aston Villa (4-2-2-2)

Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Digne; Kamara, Luiz; McGinn, Bailey; Diaby, Watkins

Saturday’s encounter is likely to be a high-octane one between two energetic, pressing sides. A draw in which both teams score looks like a favourable outcome.