I had a long post ready about leadership and the old boy network but I lost my bottle and decided to not post it. I'm going to summarise it though, and it's basically this; Tyrone Mings isn't a great leader and should be replaced as captain and the likes of Frank Lampard and our very own Steven Gerrard have such a slim chance of succeeding as managers that you have to question why they got their jobs.
Basically, it's very hard to follow a leader that makes so many mistakes and Frank the Bank and Stevie Gerrard have only got the jobs they have because they played football and have a media profile. If we don't win today, the win percentage as Aston Villa manager for Steven Gerrard will fall below the total win percentage Dean Smith had as Aston Villa manager.
And the post was longer and had more numbers and reasons, but I was honestly worried that some would be offended by it and these days you have to be careful.
But this should be about Newcastle today and I have to write that we should be winning today. Not winning today and it's reason for concern. Not winning today and we have to start to ask questions and nobody is going to like that. And on paper, we should. I'm not looking at bookmaker odds, but I fancy we must be favourite, right?
Team news will be posted as soon as it's available, but Emi Buendia looks a doubt and there is talk that Carney Chukwuemeka will be starting. We'll know soon, but if he's as good as many think we should see him for a little longer than 20 minutes every now and then.
And if I hadn't made it clear above, this is an important game.
Match facts from the BBC
- This is the 50th Premier League meeting between the sides. Newcastle have won 22 and Aston Villa only 11.
- The Magpies are unbeaten in 12 Premier League home fixtures against Villa, which is their longest such run against any team (W6, D6).
- However, Newcastle sole victory in the past nine league encounters - including seven in the top flight - was 2-0 at home in the Championship five years ago (D5, L3).
- Newcastle have earned consecutive Premier League wins, having only managed one in their opening 20 games this season.
- They can win three top-flight matches in a row for the first time since November 2018 under Rafael Benítez.
- Eddie Howe's side are unbeaten in four league fixtures (W2, D2).
- Their only home league defeat in seven games under Howe came against Manchester City in December (W2, D4).
- The Magpies can win back-to-back league matches at St James' Park for the first time since December 2019.
- Chris Wood scored in three of his four Premier League starts against Aston Villa while playing for Burnley.
- They have taken 17 points from their 11 league matches under Steven Gerrard, compared to 10 points in 11 games when Dean Smith was head coach.
- The Villans have only failed to score in one of their 11 fixtures since Gerrard took charge - a 1-0 defeat at Liverpool.
- Aston Villa's current three-match unbeaten league run is their longest of the season (W1, D2).
- None of their past 15 Premier League away matches has finished level since a 1-1 draw against Newcastle in March 2021.
- Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in four of Villa's six goals since making his debut for the club, scoring two and setting up two. Jacob Ramsey has also directly involved in four of those goals, scoring three and providing an assist.