BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson has given his predictions for this weekend’s Premier League matches. He has Newcastle getting a point with a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa at St. James’ Park on Friday.
Here is his take on tomorrow’s fixture:
Aston Villa are still missing Jack Grealish but Newcastle are worse off injury-wise, and are going to be without Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin, and Miguel Almiron until the start of April, after the international break.
Both of these sides drew last time out, Villa against Wolves and Newcastle at West Brom – which was not exactly a thriller.
I have a feeling this game will be cagey too. The Magpies need the points more, but I think they will still focus on making themselves difficult to beat rather than going all-out for a win.
Jack Grealish was pushing for a return for Friday after missing Villa’s last four matches with a shin injury. However, an illness this week has curtailed his availability for tomorrow’s match at St. James’ Park.
Steve Bruce gave a promising update on Almiron, Saint-Maximin, and Wilson during his press conference on Thursday. The trio is progressing enough to potentially be ready after the international break, but that does little for tomorrow night.
Lawro could be correct that Bruce will take the conservative approach once again. Newcastle settled for a draw at West Brom last Sunday and didn’t really push for much more than that.
With Fulham facing Manchester City on Saturday, a point against Villa could be enough to keep Newcastle out of the bottom three. Though the conservative approach didn’t work out too well at the Hawthorns with Fulham picking up an important win at Liverpool last weekend.
Newcastle are in survival mode without their star players. A point on Friday would not be the end of the world. However, three points would be a boon heading into what is an even more pivotal match at Brighton next weekend.