In-form Newcastle to conduct Villa’s Premier League funeral

Statistics in football can be any team, manager or player’s best friend, but equally their worst enemy. It often comes down to how they are interpreted. Then again, for rock-bottom Aston Villa there is one particularly damning piece of Premier League data they cannot ignore.

Not one side in Premier League history has engineered a great escape from a single-digit standpoint pre-Christmas – albeit Sunderland and Leicester survived having propped up the table in the last two seasons come December 25th.

The hapless Villans travel to St James’ Park for their final top-flight assignment this side of Christmas knowing that even victory over Newcastle will fail to top up the miserly tally of six to double figures.

This makes grim reading indeed and at a time when a miracle is the only item left on Remi Garde’s festive wishlist, while there is potential for all hope to be snuffed out before the turkey is even served.

Sizing up this trip to face the Toon just a few weeks previously would have offered the new Villa manager a modicum of festive cheer no doubt.

That, however, was before Newcastle were jolted out of their own malaise, much to Steve McClaren and his much-maligned players’ credit.

Flying in the face of universal predictions, away bullies Liverpool were soundly beaten in the north east, before Tottenham became the Geordies next unsuspecting victims.

Unbeaten since the opening day of their league campaign and unconquered at White Hart Lane until Sunday, Spurs were also toppled, as Newcastle snatched victory at White Hart Lane.

As a result, the hosts are installed as 20/21 chances to take all three points off the 1/8 relegation favourites on Saturday, a bet that is sure to be hugely popular with Ladbrokes customers ahead of the televised teatime fixture.

Garde has of course described this game as ‘must win’, which is arguably the biggest understatement of the decade, though ultimately, even the 3/1-rated Villa triumph may well prove futile in the quest for survival given the weight of history.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.