The Warm Down: Newcastle United fall to second successive Premier League defeat after lacklustre display
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21: Danny Ings of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring their side's first goal from an overhead kick during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at Villa Park on August 21, 2021 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Danny Ings, on his home debut, scored an extraordinary bicycle kick on the brink of half-time and Anwar El Ghazi’s second-half penalty ensured Newcastle have now failed to score a single goal in five Premier League visits to Villa Park.

In truth, The Magpies simply didn't create enough clear-cut chances to get a positive result from the game and this was summed up when there only shot on target arrived in the seventh minute of additional time when Joelinton directed a soft header straight into the gloves of Emiliano Martinez.

Steve Bruce made three changes to the side which lost on the opening day to West Ham United as Joe Willock made his first start since joining from Arsenal in a £25 million deal and replaced Jonjo Shelvey, who was out due to a calf injury, while captain Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schar were brought in defence for Emil Krafth and Ciaran Clark.

VAR benefits Villa and punishes Newcastle

Roared on by 2,950 travelling supporters in a sold out away end, it was the first time in 532 days that The Toon Army faithful were able to experience all of the match day emotions on the road in a first competitive away league outing since March 7, 2020 when Newcastle beat Southampton 1-0 at St Mary’s courtesy of Allan Saint-Maximin’s 79th-minute winner.

They should have had something to celebrate inside five minutes when Callum Wilson, who scored at the exact same time on the opening weekend, should have found the net after the striker was presented with a wonderful one-on-one opportunity following Federico Fernandez's through ball, but dragged his right-footed effort agonisingly wide of the post and the miss turned out to be pivotal.

Neither side failed to register a single shot on target until the stroke of half-time, though it proved to be worth the wait for The Villans as Ings produced an early goal of the season contender - a breathtaking bicycle kick which sent Villa Park into raptures. From a Newcastle perspective, no defenders were brave enough to challenge for the ball in the penalty area when Tyrone Mings was able to flick on Matty Cash's long throw-in into the path of Ings with ease to produce a moment of magic which left Freddie Woodman helpless.

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Bruce’s side were dealt a further blow at the break as Isaac Hayden was forced off injured and replaced by Sean Longstaff. Though, his introduction appeared to offer no encouragement for the visitors as for the second successive week, Newcastle conceded another penalty, and with the assistance of VAR, Lascelles was deemed to have blocked Mings' goalbound header with his arm.

El Ghazi, from the resulting spot-kick, sent Woodman the wrong way, as The Magpies conceded their sixth goal of the season having played just two matches.

Newcastle will feel aggrieved that they were initially awarded a penalty of their own on 75 minutes by referee David Coote, when Wilson was clumsily taken out by Martinez, but after a check by VAR, the decision was overturned after the forward had strayed marginally offside in the build-up and to further cap off a miserable day for The Geordies, the Argentine goalkeeper only received a yellow card but perhaps was fortunate it wasn’t more.

The defence is fragile and vulnerable

While Dean Smith's side are still adjusting to life without their former talisman Jack Grealish, facing Newcastle in their first home game of the 2021/22 season would have been a welcoming sight for Villa supporters, especially with the visitors defensive problems and the recent record between both sides in the top-flight, as The Villans are now unbeaten in seven games in a row against The Toon Army.

Last season, Bruce's black-and-white contingent conceded 62 goals, with only four sides shipping in more goals, Sheffield United (63), Crystal Palace (66), Southampton (68) and West Brom (76). 

Newcastle currently sit 19th in the table, with only recently promoted Norwich below them, and based on their defensive displays in the second half against West Ham and also at Villa Park, where they conceded from two set pieces, it's an area they desperately need to address.     

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Newcastle can not just rely on Wilson to score goals

Despite the golden opportunity for Wilson at the beginning of the match, The Magpies' number nine had very little goalmouth action and was left deeply disappointed by VAR not awarding the spot-kick.  

Surprisingly, his teammates Miguel Almiron and Saint-Maximin were both quiet, with neither player managing a single shot at goal all game.  

But that will have to change as the season progresses as Newcastle simply can not put all the pressure on their target man to keep them in the Premier League.