Newcastle United made it 5 wins out of 5 with a gritty win versus Brentford after showing great spirit in the face of the adversity of more dodgy refereeing decisions to maintain a strong grip on a Top 4 place and The Promised Land of Champions League.
Newcastle's no. 1 keeper Nick Pope saved an Ivan Toney penalty - the first the spot-kick master has ever not scored in The Premier League - before The Bees were awarded a second penalty in controversial circumstances when the VAR official Darren England called Manchester-based referee Chris Kavanagh to the monitor and after 25 replays lasting several minutes interruption, the penalty was given which Toney scored.
A post-inquest on Match of the Day by Alan Shearer who was furious at the decision of the second penalty award was backed up by everyone in the game including Ref Watch expert Dermot Gallagher and ESPN's VAR expert Dale Johnson:
Why do Newcastle almost week in, week out have to overcome the dodgy decisions of the PGMOL - Professional Game Match Officials Limited - as well as their Premier League opponents who they are facing on the day? What is going on?
Eddie Howe revealed he hadn't received the expected apology from the PGMOL:
Almost week in, week out, we see a bad decision go against Newcastle and before the Brentford game and the wrongly-given second penalty, it was what would have been a first Premier League goal & first goal for his hometown club by Elliot Anderson that was wrongly disallowed with the experts again agreeing that the VARs are unnecessarily interfering, making wrong decisions & looking for ways to stop Newcastle's momentum:
Anderson is a promising 20 year-old footballer tipped for big things in the game but that wrongly-disallowed goal could have a detrimental affect on his career as Newcastle go from strength to strength and will be recruiting again in the summer transfer window.
The Magpies won that Forest game with a last-minute penalty dispatched by Alexander Isak and Newcastle roared back into life in the second half against Brentford and pole position in The Champions League thanks a fantastic solo goal from Joelinton which was awarded as an own goal by the Brentford goalkeeper and a stunning 20-yard shot from Isak and added a third goal that was disallowed for handball by Callum WIlson yet The Magpies became the first side to beat Brentford at home since September and the first ever team to beat Brentford when they have taken a Premier League lead.
That's in no small part to the best defensive centre back partnership in The Premier League - Fabian Schar and Sven Botman, who OptaJoe stat's index has proved are the best duo in The Premier League conceding just 0.61 per 90 minutes:
and Newcastle's defence is the bedrock on which their excellent season is built.
Aston Villa Are In The Ascendancy so Toon Must Be Vigilant Against The Villains
Next up for Newcastle, its Unai Emery's own high-flying Aston Villa who are now 6th in The Premier League table having won four of their last five games and are eyeing a place in The Europa League, a competition which Emery has made his own having won it four times with two different Spanish sides - Sevilla and Villareal - and was denied a fifth crown as Arsenal manager losing the 2019 final to Chelsea 4-1:
For all of his success on the continent, Emery never quite delivered the top level expected of him as Arsenal manager and eventually became a figure of fun in The Premier League due to his 'Good Ebening' greeting in post-match interviews so he was somewhat of a surprise first choice for Newcastle United's new ownership hierarchy when the Saudis, Amanda Staveley, Merhrdad Ghodoussi and Jamie Reuben took over the club in October 2021 but in the event, Emery turned the post down and the rest is history with Eddie Howe more than proving the perfect choice as Newcastle manager:
Yet there may be some extra needle in the game and added incentive for Eddie Howe to prove he was unquestionably the right man for The Magpies by beating Emery's Villa and, equally, Emery has a point to prove in English football that his methods can succeed in the rarefied atmosphere in The Premier League to the degree they do in Spain so in many ways its an intriguing 12.30om fixture for Saturday's early game that kicks off The Premier League weekend on BT Sports:
Emery took over an Aston Villa squad that looked to be heading towards The Championship and certainly a relegation battle before the 51 year-old Spaniard transformed their fortunes yet it was noticeable that Emery - perhaps diplomatically - ducked the Newcastle away game despite it being the first immediate fixture five days after he accepted the Villa job back in late October as The Magpies went to Town on The Villains in front of England manager Gareth Southgate and won 4-0:
Yet the vastly experienced manager who swapped Villareal for Villa quickly made his mark in Birmingham with a 3-1 win against Man United his first game in charge and The Villains haven't looked back rising from 15th in The Premier League to their present 6th:
Villa have won three on the spin against Notts Forest, Leicester, Chelsea and Bournemouth but could only manage a 1-1 draw at West Ham five games ago which means Newcastle are above them in The Premier League form table with that 5-1 hammering of the London club whose season priority is The Europa Conference League yet nevertheless have a good home record until The Magpies machine flattened them:
That & the impressive win at Brentford will give Emery plenty of food-for-thought before Saturday as he attempts to stop Newcastle winning a third time on the road but the statistics are with The Magpies whose xG Diff is more sustainable than that of Villa's:
Eddie Howe in his presser was looking forward to a "tough challenge" at Villa Park:
The Newcastle Manager will be without the in-form Allan Saint-Maximin who has picked up a slight injury but will hopefully be back for the Spurs game at St James' Park but there was good news on Miguel Almiron who has resumed training & is back soon:
Howe had positive words for new signing Anthony Gordon, who took exception to being subbed off late on against Brentford after being a substitute himself, and the former Everton man could have a big part to play at Villa Park and beyond this season:
Prediction - Newcastle 3 Aston Villa 0