Pundits heap praise on Aston Villa despite Newcastle differences

2 minute read

Pundit Mark Lawrenson disagrees with Chris Sutton and Paul Merson about how Aston Villa will fare against Newcastle United on Saturday.

Sutton and Merson have tipped Newcastle to pick up a 2-1 victory in the clubs’ opening Premier League game of the season, while Lawrenson thinks the teams will share the spoils with a 1-1 draw.

In his weekly predictions ahead of this weekend, Sutton said : “Newcastle’s biggest problem is the expectation around them this season when they have to balance the Premier League with their Champions League fixtures.

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“Everyone seems to be getting excited about Aston Villa too - they will be playing European football as well in the Europa Conference League and, with Unai Emery in charge, they must be one of the favourites to win that.

“This should be a really good game, and I am going to back Newcastle to win it. They were phenomenal at home last season, only losing twice, and I think they will hit the ground running this time.”

Merson was in agreement, saying : “This is a big match. Aston Villa could pull off a few upsets this season and finished very well last season. Newcastle pulled off a top-four finish and have brought in some very good players.

“Unai Emery is good at his European fixtures, and Aston Villa have not won a trophy in a long time. They might find it difficult to find a balance between their European games and their Premier League form. Newcastle finished in the top four last season and might find it difficult to achieve the same result this season.

“Newcastle are very good at home - the games they lost at St. James’ Park last season were close. If both these teams are anything like they were in pre-season, this will be one hell of a game. Newcastle have the home advantage and I’m backing them to win this weekend.”

Lawrenson, however, is not so confident that Newcastle can pick up the win. He told Paddy Power: “I think all us ex pros fancy Aston Villa a little bit because we can see that Unai Emery’s really improved on the team and built really, really well. When you watch him on the touchline he’s just completely engrossed by the game and his teams have a special way of playing. Newcastle have made some good signings but they’re under a little bit of pressure to perform this season. Newcastle 1-1 Aston Villa.”

What’s your score prediction? Tell us in the comments.

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