Newcastle United face Aston Villa at St James' Park on Sunday from the relative comfort of 17th position in The Premier League after a resounding 3-1 win over Everton on Tuesday night lifted the club out of the relegation zone and looking up the table.

A hard-fought first half with own goals involving United skipper Jamaal Lascelles, back on top form, at both ends of the pitch gave way to a second 45 of dominance from The Magpies which, after Scotland's Ryan Fraser gave Newcastle a lead from an Allan Saint-Maximin cross, England's Kieran Trippier put the icing on the cake with a superb free-kick beating fellow Three Lions international Jordan Pickford:

St James' Park was a raucous cauldron of noise as Eddie Howe's team battled from the first minute to the last even after the Head Coach made the initially unpopular choice of leaving star signing Bruno Guimaraes on the bench until an injury to Joe Willock forced a late debut from the Brazil international, who impressed in his six-minute cameo:

even wowing fans with a cheeky back heel past Dele Alli in the dying seconds:

Eddie Howe's selection dilemmas ahead of Aston Villa include whether to hand Guimaraes his full Newcastle debut against Brazil teammates Douglas Luiz and Philippe Coutinho and if so which of the three Newcastle midfielders - JonJo Shelvey, Joe Willock and Joelinton to leave out. And, as on-loan Matt Targett cannot play against parent club Aston Villa, does new boy Dan Burn make his debut at left-back versuss Villa or will it be a recall for Javier Manquillo, who came on at left-back and won the free-kick against Leeds that Shelvey converted for the winning goal at Elland Road:

In his pre-match presser, Howe paid tribute to Kieran Trippier's overall performance on Tuesday night & revealed the influential defender will have a late fitness test on Sunday:

Big Test For Aston Villa At A Revitalized St James' Park

Aston Villa stand 11th in the Premier League table but a Newcastle win would bring Eddie Howe's side within six points of the Birmingham club, who have had a mixed bag of form in 2022 with a defeat by Brentford, draws against Man United and Leeds and just one solitary victory over Everton and it'll be a big test at a buoyant St James' Park, a football ground Gerrard loved playing at while a Liverpool player:

Steven Gerrard saw his Aston Villa team run ragged by Leeds with winger Dan James on inspirational form in an entertaining 3-3 draw on Wednesday night at Villa Park which will give Newcastle's Allan Saint-Maximin food for thought after Villa couldn't handle the Welsh international wing wizard:

As well as having Ezri Konsa sent off which means he can't play against The Magpies which will likely mean January signing from Arsenal, Calum Chambers who came on after Konsa's dismissal in a reshuffled defence on Wednesday is in line to make his first start for Villa, a "whack" to Emiliano Buendia means he is a big doubt and Danny Ings who scored a wonder goal against Newcastle earlier this season may start instead.

Villa boss Steven Gerrard chose to focus on the positives after Wednesday's game, one major one being the irrepressible form of young midfielder Jacob Ramsey, who scored a brace against Marco Bielsa's men:

but with Leeds still without England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, he and Aston Villa will face a stiffer midfield test at St James' Park with Joelinton in excellent combative form:

Steven Gerrard is not underestimating Newcastle by any means:

although he paid tribute to star signing Philippe Countinho in his presser after another excellent display against Leeds:

“His vision is a major strength to him as a player. He’s lovely on the eye to watch, his technical ability is high level. I don’t think I have to go on about Phil Coutinho the player, you just have to watch and admire the class with which he goes about it.

“For me, the key thing was to get him up to speed from a physical point of view and we’re still working on that. He can get fitter and stronger and he will do with more training and games."

The prospect of Bruno Guimaraes's full debut with the Brazilian keen to start may be a very wise move for Eddie Howe considering Villa's main attacking thrust and goal-scoring threats are from its attacking midfielders Coutinho, Ramsey and co. who caused Leeds major problems.

Eddie Howe is looking to instill a real competitiveness in his side and the debuts of Guimaraes and Dan Burn can only add more steel and presence to the Newcastle side:

Controversial referee Craig Pawson, who has been in the headlines for not giving a stonewall penalty to Ryan Fraser against Man City for a clear foul by Man City keeper Ederson before overturning Kevin Friend's decision not to award a penalty for Liverpool against Crystal Palace when Diego Jota ran into the goalkeeper, is the man in the middle as he was when Newcastle drew 1-1 with Man United after Christmas but Irish whistler Paul Tierney is the VAR official which might be a good sign for Newcastle as he was the man in the middle when Newcastle beat Burnley earlier in the campaign.

It promises to be an exciting game at St James' Park on Sunday with two mangers looking to play football the right way and two sides looking to climb the Premier League table yet home advantage & the momentum of new signings can tip it Newcastle's way.

Prediction - Newcastle 3 Aston Villa 2

Potential Line-Ups: