Newcastle and Aston Villa kick off their respective Premier League seasons after meeting each other in pre-season. Two teams that exceeded expectations last season will meet again on Tyneside, where Villa last won a top-flight match back in 2005, after playing out a six-goal friendly there.
Preview (Newcastle vs Aston Villa)
Newcastle United’s coach Eddie Howe led the Magpies to a fourth-place Premier League finish in the previous season. When he turned around a team that was battling for its Premier League life, he performed a fantastic feat. In less than two years, they were eligible for the Champions League. When Unai Emery abruptly withdrew as this week’s opponent, Howe only took over at St. James’ Park. He has so far gotten the most from his team. Sandro Tonali, a star Milan midfielder, and former Leicester City winger Harvey Barnes have been added to the former Bournemouth manager’s roster of options for 2023–2024. Newcastle began making plans for a season in which they would finally earn a spot in the Champions League as they arrived in America.
At Villa Park in April, Aston Villa shocked Newcastle by a score of three. Since 2004-2005, they haven’t won two straight matches against Newcastle in the Premier League. The Villans’ failure to win their league opener in each of the previous two seasons. In both cases—Bournemouth last season and Watford in 2021–22—it was against promoted teams. This establishes additional evidence against them this weekend. Since the late 1960s, Villa hasn’t, however, lost three successive league openers. The current Unai Emery squad has reason to be enthusiastic about continuing that run.
This statistic highlights the extent of Aston Villa’s turnaround since its Basque manager marched into Birmingham at the end of last year. After finishing first in the league for the first time in more than ten years, they are now looking forward to a Europa Conference League playoff clash against either Hibernian or Luzern. The group that went to the States was made up of recent hires with outstanding experience, such as Youri Tielemans, Pau Torres, and club-record signing Moussa Diaby. This season, the owners of Villa are clearly attempting to upset the existing Premier League order by joining Newcastle.
Harvey Barnes and Sandro Tonali, both ought to debut on Saturday. Full-back Tino Livramento, who cost £32 million, is now available to Newcastle boss Eddie Howe. After being injured for a large portion of the previous season, he moved from Southampton. Callum Wilson and Swedish striker Alexander Isak are competing for the opening in the front. Since the beginning of April, the latter has been the league’s leading scorer. In his last 12 Premier League outings, he has scored 11 goals, averaging one per 58 minutes. In each of the previous three seasons, Wilson scored on the opening weekend. In terms of Premier League goals in August, only Raheem Sterling (15) and Sergio Aguero (14) have more. But he’s still not sure if he should start.
Ollie Watkins, the leading scorer from the previous campaign, will get things going for the visitors. He scored goals earlier this month against Lazio and Valencia. Two teams will play in the opening league game of 2023–24 hoping to build on their success from the previous season, but they will only be able to earn one point since they are too evenly matched. Both sides’ offenses include a variety of threats, and Villa’s improved defense should enable them to counter Newcastle’s potent front line.
Newcastle 1 – 1 Aston Villa
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