Newcastle take on Aston Villa at the Sports Direct Arena and the Magpies will be keen to return to winning ways after losing to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last week.
Villa, meanwhile, are looking more and more like relegation candidates and goal difference fodder for the sharper teams; new manager Paul Lambert has his work cut out, after losing 0-1 and 1-3 to West Ham and Everton, respectively, in the opening games. The 3-0 win over Tranmere Rovers in the Capital One Cup will have come as relief but facing a strong and motivated Newcastle, away, is a very different proposition.
Alan Pardew's men have had a mixed start to the season, not helped by the sandwiching of a two-leg tie against Greek side Atromitos FC in their quest to qualify for the Europa League. The Magpies travelled to Greece for the first leg and returned to play European champions Chelsea barely 48 hours later, a fact that may help explain their 0-2 defeat.
However, they have had some time off since the 1-0 defeat of Atromitos in the second leg (Newcastle won 2-1 on aggregate) and the prospect of playing a Villa side already rooted to the bottom of the table must be appealing for the manager. The club rested senior players, including Yohan Cabaye, Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa, for the Atromitos game and the trio will return to first team action for this fixture.
The biggest positive for Pardew so far this season must be that the club has retained its star players, despite interest from Manchester United, Manchester City and even Real Madrid. In addition, Pardew has also declared himself delighted at being able to play in so many tournaments (Newcastle will compete in the Premier League, the Capital One Cup, the Europa League and the FA Cup).
Aston Villa, meanwhile, have been poor so far. Lambert, who replaced manager Alex McLeish in the summer, has already been criticised for spending £20m on new signings with no Premier League experience... something he may regret in a season expected to be spent fighting against relegation. Lambert's new signings include Christian Benteke from Genk, Ashley Westwood from Crewe Alexandra and Dutch centre back Ron Vlaar. These and other new arrivals, like Dutch midfielder Karim El Ahmadi, have yet to strike form. Worse still, there is already a growing rift between the manager and some of his younger players.
"Some young players, not all, think if they play two or three Premier League games, they've arrived. If somebody plays 600 or 500 games, yes, then I might think you have. I don't like young players coming in and thinking they've arrived and it's up to me not to stand for that. If you're driving a Skoda one day and the next day you're driving a Mercedes, that indicates to me there's something really wrong there. If we can get that hunger in them and they keep it, fine," Lambert explained to Goal.com.
Team News and Formation
Newcastle: The hosts will continue to be without the services of star enforcer Cheick Tiote (calf) and striker Shola Ameobi (hamstring). It has now been confirmed that defender Ryan Taylor will also be unavailable for several months with a knee injury picked up in the game against Atromitos. A more minor issue will be the absence of defender James Perch, who has a neck strain. However, that should be all of Pardew's injury concerns.
Dutchman Tim Krul is expected to start in goal and be protected by Davide Santon, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson and Danny Simpson. Frenchman Cabaye did not play in the game against Atromitos and although is carrying a minor knock, is expected to play. He should partner new signing Vurnon Anita in the centre of the pitch, with Ben Arfa and Jonas Gutierrez offering width and supply to the Senegalese strike pair of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse up front.
Anita may be a slight worry for Pardew after his horror tackle on Fernando Torres in the game against Chelsea. No matter who your opponents are, an early red card cannot help your side's chances.
Aston Villa: As if things weren't hard enough for Lambert, Villa are without a number of first team players. Gary Gardner, Stiliyan Petrov, Marc Albrighton, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Richard Dunne are all injured. The good news is that striker Darren Bent is finally ready to play and should start this game. With new signing Benteke on the bench, Lambert will be hoping his goal-scoring problems are a thing of the past.
Newcastle (4-3-3): Tim Krul; Davide Santon, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Danny Simpson; Jonas Gutierrez, Yohan Cabaye, Vurnon Anita; Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse
Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Shay Given; Bennett, Clark, Vlaar, Lowton; Delph, El Ahmadi; Holman, Ireland, N'Zogbia; Bent
Where to Watch Live
You can catch the match live, via text updates, from Soccernet.com,with all the highlights on BBC One and BBC One HD's Match of the Day 2, from 10.25pm to 11.35pm. Match of the Day 2 is available on the BBC iPlayer (UK only) for one week from the day after transmission.
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