Aston Villa vs Newcastle UnitedEnglish Premier League, KO: 20:00 Nov 25, 2019, Villa Park
THIS is a game Aston Villa must win if they want to pull away from the relegation zone and move closer to midtable respectability.
It looked like Dean Smith's side had finally found their feet back in the top flight when they walloped Norwich 5-1 on the road then followed it up with a dramatic 2-1 win at home to Brighton.
There are some mitigating factors, with the two losses before that terrible display at Molineux coming to Manchester City and Liverpool.
That 2-1 home loss to the Reds was also a bit unlucky, with Villa leading as the clock went past 87 minutes only to be floored by two late sucker punches.
That crushing blow to morale may have been a factor in the poor performance that followed against Wolves but Smith and his players have now had the international break to regroup and focus on the visit of Newcastle.
If Villa are to justify their expensive summer outlay on players and re-establish themselves as a Premier League force then they really need to win at home to the likes of the Magpies, another fallen giant.
Steve Bruce was under serious pressure a few weeks ago but has managed to string some decent results together, lifting Newcastle up to 14th, four points clear of Villa.
With the table so congested, Bruce's side are actually just four points behind fifth-placed Wolves and another win here could see them move up to 10th.
Newcastle have lost just once in their last five league games, winning three, so they will head to Villa Park with their tails up.
But they have a few injury problems at the back, with Jamaal Lascelles crocked while Fabian Schar and Ciaran Clark are doubts for the trip to the Midlands. Midfielder Sean Longstaff also won't feature here as he completes a suspension.
Villa also have injury woes and could be forced to start with young keeper Orjan Nyland, with Jed Steer ruled out and Tom Heaton a doubt.
So going for goals could be a wise move, even though both these sides haven't exactly been prolific. Over 2.5 strikes is 19/20 with Marathonbet while the odds jump to 12/5 with Bet365 for over 3.5 strikes. Both teams to score also looks good at 10/13 with SportNation.
This is a tricky one to predict, with Newcastle in better form but Villa needing the win more and boasting home advantage. If pushed, I would plump for a home win at 28/25 with Marathonbet but the teams are so evenly matched that any result in possible.
In the goalscorer markets, John McGinn has been on fire for club and country this season, with 10 goals already from midfield. Seven of those have come for Scotland, though, and he has drawn a blank in his last six Villa outings. McGinn is 3/1 for anytime scorer here with Bet365 if you fancy him to get back in the goals for Villa after scoring three times for Scotland during the international break.
For the Magpies, I'm drawn to Allan Saint-Maximin at 4/1 with Paddy Power in the same market. The Frenchman has done everything but score in recent games, showing speed and skill only to fluff his lines in front of goal. But he has to break his duck sooner rather than later so I'll be backing him to do it here.
Magpies stopper Federico Fernandez has three yellow cards from seven appearances this term and offers the best value in the cards market. The Argentine is 7/2 with Boylesports which looks pretty generous.
This English Premier League match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United will be played on Nov 25, 2019 and kick off at 20:00