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Who do you think should start for Villa as Steve Bruce returns?

With Bruce fighting for his job in the North East, how should Villa line up after a frustrating result at The Etihad?

Aston Villa v Newcastle United - Premier League
Steve Bruce, Manager of Newcastle United looks dejected.
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

After a frustrating night at The Etihad, when the offside rule seemed to have morphed and adapted itself mid-game, there is no time to dwell as Aston Villa must prepare for the return of former manager, Steve Bruce. Let’s look ahead to the game and see what Villa can expect from a struggling Newcastle side.


It is no surprise to see a Steve Bruce side among the league’s lowest in terms of attacking statistics. The graph below is a comparison of shots per 90 and shot creating actions:

Only West Brom have had fewer shots per 90 and have created fewer shooting opportunities per 90 than Newcastle. It is understandable that Newcastle fans becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of excitement with ‘Bruce ball’. That’s a pain Villa fans know all too well.

This lack of attacking threat is also evident when looking at their lack of touches in attacking areas:

Newcastle have had the lowest number of touches in the attacking third as well as the fewest amount of touches in the opposition box. Is it going to be a quiet night for Villa’s defence?


Arsenal v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus

Despite a complete lack of attacking intent from Newcastle, there is a threat in the current side: new signing Callum Wilson. Having signed in the summer of 2020 for £20 million, the English striker has hit the ground running in the North East.


Wilson has scored 8 league goals in 16 games since joining The Magpies which is only 6 goals away from his best in a Premier League season. He has also scored 4 winning goals in Newcastle’s 5 wins this season.

Being a player of such high quality, Wilson must be becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of chances Newcastle are creating.

That being said, Villa will have to make sure they don’t switch off as Wilson provides a constant danger to the backline.


Newcastle have failed to win in their last 7 attempts in the league, losing 5 of them. Their most recent match was a 3–0 defeat to Arsenal. Newcastle’s expected goals for the game was only 0.19, showing the lack of threat they posed to the Arsenal defence. Newcastle had only one shot on target.


Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Villa will be without John McGinn for the game as he picked up his 5th booking of the season against Man City.

Anwar El Ghazi is looking to get back into the starting line-up and this may be his chance.

Ryan Fraser will be available for Newcastle after his suspension but it is looking like this game may be too soon for Federico Fernández and Allan Saint-Maximin to return.

Bruce almost certainly will set up his players in his favourite 4-4-2 formation.

Who do you think should start the game against Newcastle? Fill in the form below and we’ll share our fan’s XI before the game on Saturday.