Former Premier League stars Paul Merson and Chris Sutton have backed Newcastle United to continue their impressive run of form with a win over Aston Villa.
The Magpies made it just one defeat in their opening 12 games of the Premier League season last weekend when Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron scored in a hard-earned 2-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur. The three points gained in North London helped move Eddie Howe’s side into the Champions League places and they will now hope to strengthen their grip on a top four place with a home win against Villa on Saturday.
By contrast, their visitors will arrive on Tyneside sat just three points and three places above the relegation zone, despite claiming a 4-0 win against Brentford in their first game following the departure of former manager Steven Gerrard. Unai Emery has since been appointed as successor to the Liverpool legend but it is caretaker boss Aaron Danks that will take charge of Villa at St James Park.
Despite their much-needed win over the Bees, former Villa forward Merson insisted his old club will emerge pointless from their meeting with an ‘absolutely outstanding’ Newcastle side.
Writing for Sportskeeda, Merson said: “If Aston Villa’s players turn up, this will be a good game. They turned it one against Brentford last week. Unai Emery will try to get them to be solid in his first game, but I don’t think he’ll have enough time.
“Emery’s a good appointment for Aston Villa. He’s worked in the Premier League before with a big football club, and he knows his opponents. He’s left a very good team in Villarreal - we saw that last year. If you want to win La Liga, you need to beat Villarreal - they’re one of those teams. This appointment is a big coup for Aston Villa.
“Newcastle are playing as well as anybody at the moment. They outplayed Tottenham last week, and they’ve been absolutely outstanding this season. Newcastle should be able to win this game.”
Merson went on to predict Newcastle would claim a 3-1 win over his former employers and his stance was supported by another former Villa star.
Writing in his BBC Sport predictions column, Sutton tipped a 2-0 win for the Magpies and said: “Unai Emery is Aston Villa’s new manager but caretaker boss Aaron Danks will be in charge again for this game after overseeing their 4-0 win over Brentford last time out.
“This is a much tougher task for Villa. I really like the way Newcastle are shaping up under Eddie Howe - they are in the top four and with a bit more luck they could have picked up even more points and be even higher in the table.”