Aston Villa play their last Premier League game at Villa Park for at least a season as they welcome a Newcastle side in desperate need of a win to aid their survival bid.
Villa’s late collapse at Watford last weekend equalled a club-record run of 11 consecutive defeats, which was set back in 1963 – another reverse this weekend would put this team in the record books for all the wrong reasons.
The woeful form of the hosts at home this season has already broken new territory; their 12 home defeats is the most they have ever recorded in a single campaign, whilst only the infamous Derby side of 2007/08 have won less games than Villa’s three in a Premier League season.
However, the suffering fans will be hoping that the team can stir themselves into turning in a long-overdue performance and result against a fellow struggler as they bring the curtain down on an abysmal campaign.
Newcastle climbed out of the bottom three for the first time since February as Andros Townsend’s superb free-kick saw them see off Crystal Palace and the returning Alan Pardew last time out – another win over the league’s worst side is crucial to keep their momentum going.
The Magpies have avoided defeat in their last four matches – their best run since November 2014 – and also have a good recent record against the Villans; they are unbeaten in the last nine meetings between the two sides and have come away with three points from two of their last three visits to Villa Park.
However, their away form this season leaves a lot to be desired; the 2-2 draw at Anfield a fortnight ago ended a run of nine successive defeats on their travels, whilst only Villa have fared worse away from home than the Toon this season.
For the hosts, Aly Cissokho misses out through suspension after his red card last weekend, meaning Kieran Richardson could return to the team if he proves his fitness. Jordan Veretout and Rudy Gestede are also doubtful, but Gabby Agbonlahor is back in contention after his two-week internal suspension.
Daryl Janmaat is back from injury for the visitors, but whether he displaces Vurnon Anita – who has been in good form in recent weeks and has recovered from a knock of his own – is a key decision for Rafael Benitez to make. French duo Gabriel Obertan and Sylvain Marveaux both left the club by mutual consent this week ahead of their contracts ending in the summer.
League Position: Aston Villa – 20th (16 pts); Newcastle – 17th (33 pts)
Previous Meeting: Newcastle 1-1 Aston Villa (December 19, 2015)
Form: Aston Villa – LLLLLL; Newcastle – LLWDDW
Key Men: Aston Villa – Jordan Ayew; Newcastle – Andros Townsend
Shoot Says: Aston Villa 1-3 Newcastle