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For the first time this season, Newcastle claimed back-to-back Premier League victories after their slender 1-0 win at Leeds was followed by a 3-1 success at home to Everton on Tuesday night.
An unfortunate own goal from captain Jamaal Lascelles put the Toffees in front nine minutes before the break; however, just three minutes later, the centre-back was involved at the right end of the pitch as his header cannoned off the crossbar before Mason Holgate put the ball into his own net.
The ascendency was then with the Magpies and they managed to put themselves in front when man-of-the-match Allan Saint-Maximin picked out Ryan Fraser, who bundled the ball home from close range. In the final 10 minutes, Kieran Trippier scored his first goal in black and white colours with a brilliant free kick to secure three crucial points in front of a jubilant St James’ Park.
Newcastle have now accumulated eight points from their last 12 available and this much-needed run of form has helped them climb out of the relegation zone for the first time since the beginning of October. Just one point separates them from 18th-placed Norwich City but they do have a game in hand.
Eddie Howe still faces a challenging task as they bid to avoid Championship football next season, but the addition of five new signings in January and an upturn in form has come at the right time as they prepare for their final 14 games of the season.
With fixtures against eight of the current top 10 still to come this campaign, Sunday’s home encounter with Aston Villa is perhaps one from which Newcastle will fancy their chances of claiming another three points. Victory against the West Midlands outfit would see them secure three consecutive league victories for the first time since November 2018.
The Magpies are unbeaten in their last 12 Premier League home games against Aston Villa, a run which dates back to April 2005; however, each of the last three top-flight meetings at St James’ Park have ended as 1-1 draws.
Eddie Howe has confirmed that Trippier will face a late fitness test after the right-back went off with a calf injury in midweek. Javier Manquillo could therefore be handed a start if the Englishman is unable to recover in time.
Newcastle will also be without Callum Wilson, Matt Ritchie, Isaac Hayden, Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett and Federico Fernandez due to injury, but the latter two are closing in on a return to first-team training.
Villa loanee Matt Targett is ineligible to face his parent club, so Dan Burn is expected to be handed his debut at left-back, with Lascelles and Fabian Schar to continue in the heart of the defence.
Howe has also revealed that big-money signing Bruno Guimaraes is ready to play this weekend, with the Brazilian set to start in centre-midfield ahead of either Joe Willock, Jonjo Shelvey or Joelinton.
As for Aston Villa, Calum Chambers could be handed his first start for the club at the expense of the suspended Ezri Konsa, partnering Tyrone Mings at centre-back.
Otherwise, Gerrard is unlikely to make too many changes to his starting lineup, with midfield trio Ramsey, Douglas Luiz and John McGinn set to retain their places, as are attacking front three Coutinho, Emiliano Buendia and Ollie Watkins.
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Marvelous Nakamba remains sidelined with a long-term knee injury, but Leon Bailey has returned to training and could feature this weekend, while Bertrand Traore may also be in contention after returning from international duty with Burkina Faso.
Newcastle United possible starting lineup:
Dubravka; Trippier, Lascelles, Schar, Burn; Guimaraes, Shelvey, Joelinton; Fraser, Wood, Saint-Maximin
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Cash, Chambers, Mings, Digne; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Buendia, Watkins, Coutinho