So far this season, Aston Villa have won three games on the road. All three have been by a score of 1-0. Outside of those matches, the Villans have only managed one other goal away from Villa Park, in a one-all draw against Burnley. Averaging just .31 goals per game is a pretty good way to ensure relegation. As poor as the away form has been, Tim Sherwood's team is just the fourth-worst in the away table.
Maybe it's false hope, but there is a chance that Villa could come away with a win or at least a point this Saturday. A trip to
St. James Sporting Direct Park to play Newcastle United is an opportunity for Villa, if only because it's been a struggle for the Magpies since John Carver has taken over as manager. Since the fans got what they wanted with Alan Pardew leaving, but they have won just once since he swapped Newcastle for Crystal Palace.
Last Saturday, Ron Vlaar's foolish actions at the end of the match (two yellows in two minutes) mean we won't be seeing him this week. Maybe that's a good thing, as it means Jores Okore will be back in partnering Ciaran Clark. The match against Stoke City also gave us Kieran Richardson instead of Aly Cissokho, at least initially. The former Fulham man was injured and had to be replaced in the first half, meaning we will be seeing Cissokho again. Alan Hutton should start at right back.
Ashley Westwood was axed from the starting lineup last time out. Hopefully he's back in there this weekend because the midfield really missed his presence. And, Villa are still atrocious at set pieces, something which Westwood has shown some competence at. Or, Sherwood could just play Leandro Bacuna for that purpose. An unused substitute against Stoke, he should get a chance to start against the Toon. Scott Sinclair was able to find the back of the net for the second straight match including the FA Cup, and this time it was a pretty impressive goal. Although Carles Gil had his worst performance so far in a Villa shirt, bad performances happen from time to time and there's no reason he shouldn't start this time. Fabian Delph could actually be the odd man out here unless Sherwood goes with five in midfield, in which case he should play.
Up top, Christian Benteke desperately needs to discover his form of Spring 2013. It's tough to put the task of saving the club on one man's shoulders, but if there is a set of shoulders at the club that can take it, they belong to the big Belgian. He hasn't scored since the draw against Manchester United. The two other strikers, Andi Weimann and Gabby Agbonlahor, are on even longer goal ducks. Hopefully just Benteke starts, but don't be surprised to see two strikers out there.
If you're looking for another reason why the Claret and Blues could come away with a result, check out Newcastle's injuries. Daryl Janmaat and Remy Cabella face late fitness tests. Chieck Tiote and Siem de Jong are long term layoffs, and Jack Colback just picked up a suspension for his tenth booking of the season.
Aston Villa (4-2-3-1):
Brad Guzan; Alan Hutton, Jores Okore, Ciaran Clark, Aly Cissokho; Ashley Westwood, Fabian Delph; Leandro Bacuna, Carles Gil, Scott Sinclair; Christian Benteke.
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1):
Tim Krul; Daryl Janmaat, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Massadio Haïdara; Vurnon Anita, Mehdi Abied; Yann Gouffran, Moussa Sissoko, Ayoze Pérez; Papiss Cissé.
Who would you play if you were Tim Sherwood? Let us know in the comments!