Saturday evening’s live action in the Championship sees a heavyweight contest of relegated giants take place at 5.30pm.
Aston Villa meet Newcastle at Villa Park with both sides desperate to make it back to the promised land of the Premier League at the first attempt.
There is no doubting the grind that is the Championship, but it looks like the Magpies have settled into the challenge far better than Villa.
Roberto Di Matteo is already a man under pressure having only taken over the Brimingham-based side in June.
The team’s performance in the last six games has brought his future to the forefront of the minds of Villa fans. Five draws and a defeat in those matches has his charges languishing in 18th, which was definitely not part of the plan for eccentric Tony Xia.
Newcastle are in a much healthier position and find themselves just four points off the top.
Although they suffered a disappointing defeat to Wolves last weekend, Newcastle managed to avenge that loss straight away – knocking the same side out of the EFL Cup on Tuesday.
So it’s no wonder the Magpies go into the contest as slight favourites, with Aston Villa at to stop the rot.
Looking at Newcastle’s seven wins in all competitions this season, a trend immediately springs off the page.
Of those seven success, four of the last five have been 2-0 victories. Add that to the just dire form of the Villains and the shot of Rafa Benitez’s landing yet another 2-0 looks like a hell of a punt.
A further factoid that may have punters fancying a flutter is that of the seven wins mention above, Newcastle have hit the net in both halves in five of those.
A bet on them to win both halves comes in at , it might just be worth a very serious look.
For Villa’s part, they head into the battle after three statements on the bounce. A fourth draw is available at , but looks unlikely against a bang on form Magpies.
After being seemingly adrift in his career last season, Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey is right back to his best.
So much so that a return to the England squad has been mentioned despite the fact he is plying his trade in the Championship.
The midfielder hit his second and third goals this campaign in the 6-0 away rout of QPR and could well be worth an shout to hit one anytime on Saturday evening.
New signing Dwight Gayle has also hit the ground running for the Magpies, with only Tammy Abraham of Bristol City and Brentford’s Scott Hogan above him the Championship scoring charts. So, it’s easy to see why he’s the favourite to score first.
For the home faithful Ross McCormack at and on Rudy Gestede lead the field for the first goal, however a sneaky outside punt could be for Jack Grealish to end another turbulent week of paper allegations with an anytime goal at .