Newcastle United v Aston Villa preview: Can Newcastle continue their dominance over Villa
Jack Grealish and Isaac Hayden battle for the ball via Getty Images- Stu Foster

Newcastle United will be taking to the field for the second time since the restart and will be welcoming relegation-threatened Aston Villa to St James' Park on Wednesday evening. 

Newcastle will be looking to make it back-to-back victories after an impressive 3-0 victory over Sheffield United on Sunday. Goals from Allan Saint-Maximan, Matt Ritchie and Joelinton made it a convincing victory for the Toon over the ten-man Blades side. John Egan was sent off just after the break for Sheffield United. 

On the other hand, Villa are still looking for their first victory since the restart, as they have drawn once and lost once. A hard-fought and perhaps fortunate draw with Sheffield United at Villa Park last Wednesday was followed by a 2-1 defeat to Frank Lampard's top-four chasing Chelsea side on Sunday. Kourtney Hause gave Villa the lead just before the break but two quick-fire goals from Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud just after the hour mark condemned Villa to defeat. 

North East domination over Villa

Newcastle will be looking to make 12 games unbeaten at St James' Park over Villa. This is a run that stretches back 15 years to a 3-0 loss in April 2005. The Toon also had a ten-match unbeaten run against Villa until the reverse fixture at Villa Park, which did end in a 2-0 win for Villa. 

The biggest thing Newcastle had to deal with on Sunday was an empty St James' Park, and unfortunately for fans, it was possibly Newcastle's best performance of the season so far. Manager Steve Bruce had this to say on the emptiness of the stadium: "It is totally strange for all of us, of course. I think it just goes to show without supporters, it's simply not the same and if ever we need reminding it's all about the supporters."

"Without them, there really wouldn't be football."

Bruce has heaped praise on his squad for all the hard work they have put in during these difficult times saying, "They've worked hard. The one thing we do is make sure physically they work hard because they have to play at a certain intensity and have to cover enough mileage, and we have drummed that home since we walked through the door here, which we can improve on. They've bought into it."

"Some players - Shelvey, for example, he's one, Isaac Hayden is another, Matt Ritchie – they're all physically in good condition, so the midfield area, we're very decent in that area. They look okay, but fair play to the players."

"They've worked extremely hard under difficult conditions and come back and looked okay."

Villa need to show some bounce-back ability

Aston Villa have been in horrible form since before and after the restart. Villa haven't recorded a win since a home victory over Watford in January. 

This would make some believe that confidence is low in the squad, especially after they threw away a winning position and lost for the fifth time this season. However, manager Dean Smith had this to say on his sides' confidence level at the moment: "We feel, despite the result on Sunday, that we're in a decent place. The squad all believe that we've still got a great opportunity and we've been given that during the pause and 'Project Restart'."

"We all know that the next two are big games for us and are pivotal in what we do." 

Villa have won just two of their last 33 top-flight away games, and they are yet to keep an away clean sheet this season as well. Villa will be hoping to look at their home victory over Newcastle for belief, and they will be looking to claim their first double over the Toon since the 2004-05 season. 

Smith was upbeat about his team's chances saying: "The fact we've only got one point out of the two games makes it a really important game, Newcastle had a very good result on Sunday, so we have to make sure that we're at our best.

"I think if our performance levels are good, then we've got a good chance."

Team News

Brothers Matty and Sean Longstaff will still be absent from the Newcastle side, as well as defenders Florian Lejeune and Ciaran Clark, who are still recovering from their respective injuries. 

Frederic Guilbert and Danny Drinkwater could be in contention for a starting spot in this game, and John McGinn may be rested following his recent return from injury. 

Bjorn Engels remains out. 

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