Three Newcastle weak points Aston Villa can exploit in crunch Championship tie

COMMENT By Danny Wright

Aston Villa travel to Newcastle on Monday night in a massive Championship clash between two relegated sides from last season’s Premier League.

It’s a game of two halves and the match is important to the two teams for very different reasons. Newcastle are powering in on instant return to the Premier League, while Aston Villa are in freefall and looking over their shoulders at the drop-zone, just six points behind them.

The Magpies will return back to the top of the table if they win, but they are not without their weaknesses.

Bruce will be looking to get the most out of his Villa side that are without a win since Boxing Day and he’ll be hoping that his side can exploit these Newcastle weaknesses:

Defensive errors

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Karl Darlow almost cost his side all three points on Tuesday night when he mis-kicked the ball, gifting Cameron Jerome a goal for Norwich.

This is something that Villa can look at as Darlow isn’t the only player to make defensive errors this season – defender Jamaal Lascelles has also looked shaky at times with two own goals to his name.

Bruce can get his side to take advantage of this by not letting the Magpies defence rest on the ball. His front-men, most likely Scott Hogan and Jonathan Kodjia, must pressurise the Toon defence and hope they can force mistakes.

With two strikers playing up front, Villa should be able to do this to great effect.

No Isaac Hayden

Newcastle’s midfield rock has been in great form in his debut season at St. James’ Park. However the defensive midfielder will miss the game with an ankle injury with Vurnon Anita expected to take his place.

The Dutchman is usually played at right-back but can play in front of the back four – however it is not his ideal position.

Anita has also been out with an ankle injury since mid-January and may not be back to full fitness.

Low interception rate

According to WhoScored, Newcastle are the worst team in the Championship for intercepting the ball, making an average of 10.6 per game.

Title-rivals Brighton are sixth best in the league for intercepting, with Newcastle featuring among the likes of struggling QPR and Birmingham.

Bruce’s side can use this to their advantage.

With the talented feet of Conor Hourihane and Henri Lansbury in the side they should be able to build up their possession and pass their way to a result.

In other Aston Villa news, James Chester reveals the areas the club must do better in.

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