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EPL Betting Preview: Aston Villa vs. Newcastle

August 12, 2023

Newcastle United take on Aston Villa at St. James' Park in their Premier League curtain raiser on Saturday, August 12. 

Following an eventful six-goal pre-season friendly draw at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia last month, two clubs that surpassed expectations last season meet again on Saturday, when they kick off their new Premier League campaigns at St James' Park.

Newcastle and Aston Villa have both earned convincing home wins in their head-to-head meetings last season and the Magpies will be eager to extend their strong home form against Villa. 

Newcastle United Betting Preview (-135 at BetOnline)

The North East giants arrived in the United States for last month's Premier League Summer Series after victories over Gateshead and Rangers at the start of their pre-season schedule.

Eddie Howe's men first met Aston Villa and after drawing 3-3 with Unai Emery's side, a further 1-1 draw versus Mauricio Pochettino's Chelsea was followed by a 2-1 win over Brighton. 

Newcastle returned from North America to beat both Fiorentina and Villarreal to round off pre-season and will be keen to carry on their form into the new campaign.

Newcastle United achieved their Champions League dream last season, having secured their place in Europe’s elite competition for the first time in 20 years. The Magpies are undoubtedly ahead of schedule this season and only a few could have envisaged them qualifying for the Champions League at the start of the 2022-23 campaign.

This remarkable success can largely be attributed to the new Saudi owners, of course, but also to the miracle work of manager Eddie Howe, who has transformed the Magpies from a team struggling for survival in the Premier League to one that is flying high at the very top of the division.

Squad depth, however, remains vital for Eddie Howe's side if they are to continue their upward trajectory as they will be competing on four fronts this season. The return of European football to St. James Park brings a great sense of optimism to the Toon Army. However, the competition places additional demands on the squad in terms of matches and intensity.

England U21 star Anthony Gordon and summer signing Harvey Barnes are in contention for a starting spot in Newcastle's front line, while Alexander Isak battles it out with Callum Wilson for selection. The Swedish striker has been Eddie Howe's first-choice but Wilson's efficiency has been quite remarkable. 

The England forward has scored 11 goals in his last 12 top-flight appearances, averaging one every 58 minutes, and was the league's leading scorer since the start of April. Moreover, only Raheem Sterling (15) and Sergio Aguero (14) have scored more Premier League goals in August than Wilson, who has netted on the opening weekend in each of the last three campaigns. 

Eddie Howe remains without Emil Krafth and Joe Willock, both recovering from long-term injuries, while Swiss defender Fabian Schar is a doubt. Having missed the final three pre-season matches for Newcastle, the 31-year-old returned to training this week and Eddie Howe revealed he had a full week's course so he could be involved this weekend. 

Elsewhere, Italian international Sandro Tonali is set to step up into the midfield alongside Brazilian duo Bruno Guimarães and Joelinton. However, this weekend's Premier League opener comes too soon for latest signing Tino Livramento, whose transfer to Newcastle from relegated Southampton has been finalized earlier this week. 

Aston Villa Betting Preview (+385 at BetOnline)

Having posted their best Premier League finish for over a decade, Unai Emery's side are also looking forward to a Europa Conference League playoff tie against either Hibernian of Scotland or FC Luzern of Switzerland later this month. 

To demonstrate the scale of the Birmingham club's revival since their Basque boss strode into the city last autumn: only treble winners Manchester City have picked up more points and wins than Aston Villa (43 and 13 respectively) in the Premier League in 2023, who for comparison accumulated just 41 points throughout 2022. 

Aston Villa were one of the clubs that impressed during the Premier League Summer Series (finishing second) - a 3-3 draw with Newcastle has been followed by a 2-0 win over Fulham and another 3-3 draw with Brentford. 

Once they returned from the United States, The Villans ended their pre-season on a high with back-to-back wins against Serie A side Lazio (3-0) in Walsall and La Liga's Valencia (2-1) at the Mestalla (Spain) as the Birmingham outfit are now brimming with confidence.

After the challenging trip up north to Newcastle upon Tyne, Villa might have a fine opportunity to gain momentum in matches against Everton and newly-promoted Burnley before they travel to face Liverpool in early-September, right before the first international break.

Last season's top scorer Ollie Watkins found the net against both Lazio and Valencia earlier this month and will lead the line, while Moussa Diaby is almost certain to partner him up front, having made an immediate impact by scoring in each of his first two friendly appearances for the Birmingham club.

Moussa Diaby reunites with Unai Emery as the French winger joins Aston Villa in a club-record £51.9m deal. Former PSG youth player under Unai Emery, Diaby stated he's ready for 'next chapter' in England as he flourished in the German Bundesliga.

The Frenchman has been a key pillar of the Leverkusen revival under Xabi Alonso and was deservedly announced in the Bundesliga Team of the Season. Diaby was a PSG youth player when Emery led the Parisians between 2016 and 2018, but now he could become a recognizable leader under his guidance.

The 24-year-old winger, who has been tracked by Europe’s elite clubs, became Villa’s third major signing of the summer after the capture of Belgium midfielder Youri Tielemans on a free transfer and Spain center-back Pau Torres for £35m from Villarreal.

Unai Emery's side have trialed a three-man backline during pre-season, so it remains to be seen how the Aston Villa boss will set his side up this weekend. If he opts for three center-backs, summer signing Pau Torres is set to start alongside Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa. 

Emiliano Buendía would've been a starter for Villa, but his ACL injury on the eve of the season is a huge blow given his versatility and pre-season form, including his brace against Newcastle in the Premier League Summer Series. Unfortunately, the Argentine playmaker is set for a long spell on the sidelines. 

Unai Emery will also be without the likes of Álex Moreno, Leander Dendoncker, Tim Iroegbunam, Jacob Ramsey, Bertrand Traoré, and Jhon Durán for the season's curtain-raiser against Newcastle United.

Possible Starting Lineups of Newcastle United and Aston Villa 

Newcastle United: Nick Pope - Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schär, Sven Botman, Dan Burn - Sandro Tonali, Bruno Guimarães, Joelinton - Miguel Almirón, Alexander Isak, Harvey Barnes. (4-3-3) 

Aston Villa: Emiliano Martínez - Ezri Konsa, Pau Torres, Tyrone Mings - Matty Cash, Youri Tielemans, Boubacar Kamara, Lucas Digne - John McGinn, Moussa Diaby - Ollie Watkins. (3-4-2-1) 

Spooky Express Betting Prediction 

With Newcastle and Aston Villa both seeking a repeat of last season's exploits, either of them (or possibly both?) will have to leave St. James' Park without the three points on Saturday night. 

Both clubs look too well-matched to separate them right now as they boast a variety of attacking threats. And whereas Newcastle are known for their well-drilled defending under Eddie Howe, Aston Villa's defensive restructure should help them cope with Newcastle's potent attackers.

Aston Villa have lost their opening league game in each of the last two seasons (from newly-promoted sides on both occasions) and have not lost their league opener in three consecutive campaigns since the late 1960s.

Newcastle, on the other hand, have not lost against Aston Villa at St. James' Park (W9, D6) since April 2005 and are bidding to extend their unbeaten form when the new season kicks-off.

Spooky Express Free Play: Over 2½, 3 (2.75) Goals +100 at BetOnline for 6/10 Units