Aston Villa looking okay without Grealish but Toon in for another long, hard struggle
21st August 2021, Villa Park
Aston Villa 2-0 Newcastle United
There must be a growing feeling around the country that Newcastle United’s Premier League status is rather on borrowed time. They do little in competitive football other than survive for survival’s sake, and with this, their thirteenth defeat in the calendar year of 2021, they seem poised for another season of desperately trying to grind out ‘one-more-year’ in the top flight.
Aston Villa, who with creditable stoicism have not dwelt long on the loss of star player Jack Grealish to Manchester City, were simply too strong for a Newcastle side high in raw enthusiasm but unmistakably low in real talent. Danny Ings, who could prove to be the most intelligent ‘budget’ buy of the summer, at £25 million from Southampton, was in inspiring form for Villa. He headed up the front line with all the priceless experience at his disposal, but also with all his usual energy.
It was Ings who broke the deadlock, and in spectacular style. He produced a wonderful bicycle kick to give his new team the lead. He could be the most under-valued forward in the EPL.
Ings’ early effort was supplemented in the second half with a routine penalty from Anwar El-Ghazi, after a needless handball on the six-yard line by Jamaal Lascelles.
Even so, Villa’s win was not achieved entirely without controversy. Late on, Newcastle were awarded a penalty for a clattering bone-cruncher of a foul on Callum Wilson by Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez. However, Newcastle then had the chance of getting back in the game snatched away by VAR, which ruled Wilson offside earlier in the move. It is hard to argue that Newcastle played well enough to merit better than a 2-0 defeat, but manager Steve Bruce was clearly very irked by the decision, if only for how bad the Martinez challenge had been.
Nonetheless, Villa deservedly win, and having come close to a fightback from 3-0 down against Watford in the first match, they appear well able to hold their own in the Premier League again. As for Newcastle United, it looks like another long old season for minimal reward ahead.
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