In 18 months, its Aston Villa's first game at Villa Park at full capacity is just round the corner...
After a disappointing loss against newly promoted side Watford, Dean Smith and his side will be looking to bounce back straight away.
Last time out was a 3-2 defeat to Watford, an early goal from their new signing Emmanuel Dennis came from passive Aston Villa defending. Matt Targett had a very horrid game down the left side, having no help from the wingers, Watford winger Sarr had the beating of him every time, this was shown once again as he scored the second Watford goal just before half time.
It wasn't until substitute Cucho Hernandez came on that Watford got a third... Not even 30 seconds since his arrival and he smashed one into the top right from just inside the box.
Villa managed to grab one back, with debutant Leon Bailey assisting John Mcginn for goal number one of the season. (what a goal as-well)!
A second for Villa, but nothing but a consolation, with Danny Ings scoring a penalty in the 90+7 minute, after Bertrand Traore was brought down in the box.
A disappointing result but positives to take!
Newcastle lost 4-2 to West Ham on the weekend, Despite losing, they was showing positive signs.
Looking ahead to Saturday's game, finally,
The Magpies led 1-0 and 2-1 at St James' Park, but West Ham then scored three unanswered goals in the second period to pick up an impressive three points, and there will be pressure on head coach Steve Bruce this weekend despite the fact that the season has only just started.
Newcastle have spent heavily on Joe Willock this summer, and it remains to be seen whether the club are able to make any more new signings before the window slams shut.
The Magpies, like Villa, will also be in EFL Cup action next week, taking on Burnley at home, before ending the month of August with a home match against Southampton; September then begins with a trip to a Manchester United side that look capable of challenging for this season's Premier League title.
Bruce's side actually managed to pick up points in 10 of their 19 away league matches last season, which is an impressive record considering that they finished 12th, one spot but 10 points behind Villa.
Villa have a busy end to the month, as they will take on Barrow in the EFL Cup on August 24 before hosting Brentford in the Premier League on August 28; September then starts with a trip to Chelsea, while Everton and Manchester United will also be opponents in the league next month.
Smith's side, who finished 11th in the Premier League last term, struggled for consistency at home last season, picking up just 25 points from their 19 matches, but they recorded a 2-0 victory over Newcastle in the corresponding match during the 2020-21 campaign.
Villa will again be without the services of Trezeguet and Morgan Sanson through injury, but Douglas Luiz could be available, as the midfielder has returned to training following his involvement for Brazil at the Olympics.
Luiz could immediately come into the first XI alongside McGinn as part of a midfield two, while there should be a start for Bailey following his impressive performance off the bench against Watford.
Jacob Ramsey is also pushing to be involved from the start, but Ollie Watkins needs to prove his fitness in the build-up to this match; Smith could ultimately decide to name the Englishman on the bench, as he recovers from a knee problem, with Ings again leading the line.
Bertrand Traore picked up a hamstring injury in a behind-closed-doors friendly with Liverpool, meanwhile, and is now a major doubt for this weekend's contest.
As for Newcastle, Martin Dubravka and Paul Dummett remain on the sidelines through injury, while Karl Darlow is still struggling following a bout of coronavirus and is likely to miss out again here.
Jamaal Lascelles was an unused substitute against West Ham due to a lack of fitness, but the centre-back is expected to be cleared to start this match, with Emil Krafth set to drop out of the side.
Willock was not registered in time to make his debut against the Hammers, but the Englishman will be in the side here, with Jonjo Shelvey potentially dropping down to the bench.
There are unlikely to be any changes in the final third of the field, though, with Callum Wilson set to be joined by Allan Saint-Maximin in a front two.
We spoke to Newcastle United fan and Blogger @MrMMYassin here are his thoughts below:
Hopes for the season
After finishing a miraculous 12th last season (still don’t know how), I cannot see improvement in that position since the club have only made one first team signing (Willock) and desperately need a ball-winning midfielder, a centre back (a certain Man Utd loanee who got away) and a forward player. There’s heavy reliance on Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson to provide creativity and goals in the team and if they were struck down by injury, I worry about the cover in place. Joe Willock coming back is a major boost, a goalscoring midfielder who contributes both in attack and defence is a coup for the club. Considering he hasn’t played much in pre-season, there are question marks whether he’ll start again Villa on the weekend. What I thought would be a winnable game last week against West Ham turned into a second half capitulation, a demonstration of the weakness of our defence and those tasked to protect them. If we are in the same position transfer wise come 1st September, I fear it will be a difficult season. A finish from 14th to 16th would be my prediction – on the other side, if quality reinforcements are added to the positions mentioned earlier, I can see a 12th to 15th finish. Not much of an improvement but that’s because of the man who leads the club, Steve Bruce. As Villa fans are fully aware, despite having a strong squad, his stewardship brings underperformance, lack of tactical nuance and playing key players in the wrong position/role. For that reason, I cannot see anything higher than a comfortable mid-table finish.
Thoughts on the game
I’m quietly optimistic after hearing Watkins and Traore, the goalscorers of the last time we met at Villa Park are both missing due to injury. I am concerned however, of the threat posed by Bailey, Buendia and Ings since they have the ability to cause us a lot of problems. I can’t see either side keeping a clean sheet this game since we conceded a combined seven goals in our opening fixtures. With the pace and trickery of Saint-Maximin, a good performance from him will yield a goal for players like Wilson up front. My worry remains the defence but I expect the likes of Schär and Lascelles to make their returns with Krafth and Villa favourite, Ciaran Clark demoted to the bench. There have been calls by fans to have Jamal Lewis as the preferred left-sided wingback but I cannot see Ritchie losing his spot at this stage of the season.
Defenders: Murphy, Lascelles, Schär, Fernandez and Ritchie
Midfielders: Hayden, Willock and Almiron
Attackers: Wilson and Saint-Maximin
Both teams to score and a share of the spoils at the end – I’ll go with 1-1.
ktd_avfc - 0-1