Premier League

Aston Villa-Newcastle United Preview

Unai Emery has belatedly returned to the Premier League with Aston Villa a year after he looked set to be named Newcastle United head coach.

Former Arsenal boss Emery backed out of the Newcastle job to instead lead Villarreal to the Champions League semi-finals last season. The Magpies instead appointed second-choice candidate Eddie Howe, who has guided them to fourth place in the Premier League.

On Saturday, Newcastle face Villa, who have themselves moved for Emery to replace Steven Gerrard, although the new man will only take charge after this weekend's match.

Despite the pair competing for the same position last year, Howe had kind words for Emery ahead of this match.

"I've said many times, Unai is a fantastic manager with an unbelievable record in various countries, in Europe especially," Howe said. "It's a brilliant appointment by Aston Villa. It's great for the Premier League. We want the best coaches and players. We want the product to be the best it can be, and from my side, it helps me learn and grow and become better. Unai is a very good manager and he will add to the quality in the league.

"It's a brilliant thing for the Premier League but maybe not so great for us, because the competition gets higher. But that's where we want to be and we have to improve to continue to succeed."

Aaron Danks will take charge of Villa again before Emery succeeds him. Danks oversaw a stunning 4-0 defeat of Brentford last week, although he recognises Newcastle are a very different prospect.

"Eddie's done a fantastic job there in organising a group of players who play with a real spirit, a real togetherness," he said. "We have to adapt slightly, because we're going to be the underdogs, but we're really excited for the challenge."

Newcastle United – Miguel Almiron

Almiron looks an obvious choice for the Premier League's Player of the Month for October, having scored five goals in his past five games. The winger had never previously scored five across an entire Premier League season and will want to continue this form up until the World Cup.

Aston Villa – Danny Ings

Ings looked to be rejuvenated under Danks last week, scoring his first goals since August to inspire a dominant win. With a new coach to impress now in Emery, too, he will be determined to build on that performance and keep his place.

– Newcastle United are unbeaten in their last 13 home Premier League matches against Aston Villa (W7 D6) since a 3-0 defeat in April 2005 with three Magpies players red carded (Steven Taylor, Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer).

– The last 10 Premier League meetings between Newcastle and Aston Villa have seen just 14 goals scored (nine for Villa, five for Newcastle). The Magpies have not scored more than once in a Premier League match against the Villans since a 2-1 win in September 2013.

– Twenty-one points from 12 games marks Newcastle's best return at this stage of a Premier League campaign since 2011-12 (25 points). This is the first time Newcastle are playing a Premier League game while starting the day in the top four of the table since April 2012 and a 4-0 defeat at Wigan Athletic.

– Newcastle have won more points than any other Premier League side so far in October (13 – W4 D1 L0). They last earned more in a single calendar month in the competition back in April 2006 (16).

– Aston Villa beat Brentford 4-0 last time out and are looking to secure back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time since May. However, they have lost 11 of their last 12 (D1) against sides starting the day in the top four.

Updated October 28, 2022

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