To be fair, this was what was expected. If we want to survive relegation, a battle we’re currently fighting, losses against the likes of Newcastle don’t matter as much. It’s the Blackburn’s, Burton’s and Rotherham’s which we’ll have to be beating.
Looking at the starting line-up, the formation could’ve been any collection of numbers. Bjanerson could be playing on the wing, it could be Kodjia and Hogan upfront but then again the former can go out wide. As it turned out, Bruce played a 4-3-3 with Hogan startingg as the central striker.
Surprisingly, Villa were the better side early on, and almost went 1-0 up. Jedinak flicked a long free kick on, thenHogan nearly lobbed Karl Darlow with a looping header. The chance looked like it had passed but Bjarnerson came in at the back post. Unfortunately his effort went wide.
In all honesty, the first half was pretty dull. Newcastle kept giving the ball away and we couldn’t do anything with it. It was good to have Jedinak back though, he and Taylor stopped many a Newcastle attack. Unfortunately the Australian still hasn’t learnt how to pass a ball.
Toward the end of the half, Newcastle started to show their quality. Kodjia nearly scored from a deflected cross. But it was the home side who had the first clear cut chance. Yohan Gouffran scored a scrambled egg of goalmouth scrambles. Undeserved, but it was Villa’s fault for making a dogs dinner of trying to clear the ball.
It took about 10 minutes of the second half until anything of note happened Villa wise. By note I mean Bjarnerson sent a volley into outer space. Then Shelvey nearly scored with a powerful free kick from a full 40 yards, which was well parried from Johnstone. In fact, our goalkeeper was the only Villa player to come out of the game having played well.
Then the second goal happened. Jesus Christ. Newcastle had a corner, it hit the post, then the ball came off Lansbury who was guarding the post, and went in. At that point most Villains probably much knew the game was over.
Apart from Karl Darlow pulling off an excellent close range stop from Bjarnerson, we never looked like getting back into it. Elphick was lucky not to concede a penalty, and Newcastle peppered our box with crosses up to Mitrovic. Johnstone kept out a fair few shots late doors, but by then the game was already won.
Our pressing game went to pot late on. Seeing Bjarnerson just strolling back when Newcastle were on the attack was just plain depressing. Almost as depressing as Kodjia and Hogan coming off injured, plus Hogan’s injury looked really bad. Hopefully he’s not broken anything, although the former Brentford forward was taken away by a stretcher.
For Villa fans at the moment, there are two big questions. 1. Will we go down? 2. Does Bruce deserve the sack? Personally I would say no to both. However, ask me in a weeks time and I’ll be much more confident with my answer.