Aston Villa vs Newcastle | Saturday 23rd January 2021, 20:00 | Sky Sports
What a difference six months can make in football! Aston Villa survived on the final day of last season yet Newcastle finished nine points further clear and in mid-table safety. Fast forward six months and, it is safe to say, Villa have been arguably the most improved team in the league whilst Newcastle currently only seem to be heading backwards.
The Toon’s performance left much to be desired at The Emirates last time out, even after Steve Bruce looked to change his teams’ approach against the Gunners. The manager claimed, he was “going to do it my way” before the game resulting in a more attacking line up.
The Magpies still only managed four shots in total and never really looked like troubling the Gunners goal (Newcastle had an XG of 0.16) whilst also managing to appear more vulnerable defensively.
That is now one goal Newcastle scored in their last five Premier League outings and they have gained only two points out of a possible 21 since their last victory. Recent performances have left Bruce admitting his players confidence has “ebbed away” and it seems like the cries for Bruce to lose his job from the Toon faithful are getting louder after each performance.
Villa themselves have not won in the last three in the league but that did include games against three of last season’s top four. Generally, throughout the season Villa have been impressive and their underlying stats show that.
Dean Smith’s side are fifth for xG in the league with just over 30 xG from 16 games and third for goals against with slightly over 20 goals in the 16 matches played.
A key miss for Villa will be the absence of John McGinn after he picked up a fifth yellow against Man City. Since he has returned from injury, he has been a mainstay in the team, and I would propose that Ross Barkley may drop back to a deeper role with Anwar El Ghazi coming in on the wing.
An alternative for Smith may be the defensively-minded Marvelous Nakamba or Jacob Ramsey replacing McGinn.
The betting angles
Villa are odds-on favourites at 1/2 with the draw at 10/3 and Newcastle to pick up the win priced generally at 5/1. I personally feel a Villa win is the most likely outcome, but I feel we can get more value in the HT/FT market.
In Newcastle’s last three league outings (Arsenal, Sheff Utd and Leicester) they have been drawing at half-time and gone on to lose. Priced at a generous 37/10 with SBK for HT/Villa (7/2 generally), it’s an angle that’s copped in two of the hosts’ last five victories and I feel the price is too big.
If Newcastle are to get anything out the game they will have to defend well and neutralise the threat of star man Jack Grealish. If starting in his natural position on the left of a front three, it may be down to DeAndre Yedlin to stop him.
Yedlin, in his last four games, has registered tackle stats of 2,2,2,3 and is priced at 21/20 with PokerStars to make 2+ tackles. I feel that’s great value, especially with the threat of Grealish against him.
Even if El Ghazi starts in the left of a front three, I still feel this would be a bet worth taking and if Emile Krafth does start (in place of Yedlin) 11/8 with stars for 2+ tackles is also worth considering. With the uncertainty over team news, it may be best to wait until line ups are announced before placing.
As well as a high XG, Villa rank second for shots in the league, averaging 15.6 per-game (rising to 18.4 at home) whilst Newcastle concede 17.1 per-away game, which is the highest in the league. Considering these stats, it is hard to not consider Villa player/team shots as part of the staking plan if the value can be found.
Rather than one of the forward players, it is Ezri Konsa I will add to my plan of attack with the defender 11/10 to have shot with PokerStars. Villa average 6.94 corners this season and Newcastle 6.11 against so you would expect Konsa to get a chance coming up from the back.
If you take out the last three games (Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea) Konsa has had at least one shot in six of his past eight encounters, so to get odds-against is too good to refuse.
Aston Villa vs Newcastle – Draw/Aston Villa (18/5 SBK)
Aston Villa vs Newcastle – De Andre Yedlin 2+ tackles (21/20 PokerStars)
Aston Villa vs Newcastle – Ezri Konsa 1+ shot (11/10 PokerStars)