Newcastle United were expected to miss top scorer Demba Ba but – a defeat away to Fulham aside – the Magpies’ Premier League campaign has been ticking along very nicely.
They are still very much in the hunt for a Champions League spot and, with Ba back from the African Nations Cup, there is every reason to think things will continue to go to plan against Aston Villa.
With Gabriel Agbonlahor a major doubt for Villa with hamstring problems, Villa may end up spending a lot of this game on the back foot…
Newcastle are favourites for this clash at a very tempting 1/1.
They have won their last two Premier League home games – victories against Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers – and continue to look threatening.
However, they have also lost to West Bromwich Albion and drawn with Swansea City at the Sports Direct Arena – and Villa are no pushovers at 14/5.
Alex McLeish’s men showed their determination by fighting back from two goals down to bag a draw against QPR in the week and have not lost in five Premier League away games – a run that included victories over Chelsea and Wolves.
Backing this game to finish in a draw is worth serious consideration at a decent 23/10.
Despite their decent away record, Villa have kept just three clean sheets away from Villa Park in the league and face a team who have scored eight in their previous four home games.
Backing there to be 2-3 goals scored at 10/11 could prove a lucrative punt.
Meanwhile, Ba is back for Newcastle and, with 15 goals already this season, he is 4/1 to open the scoring.