Game #5609

Season | 2020-21 |

Matchday | #21 |

League Match | #17 |
Manager Game | #104 |
Saturday, 23 January 2021
Premier League | Home | Newcastle United | Villa Park | Behind closed doors | 

20-21 #21 #9 Ollie Watkins
20-21 #21 #9 Ollie Watkins

Saturday, 23 January 2021 | Ross Barkley congratulates Ollie Watkins on his 9th goal of the season in the 13'

20-21 #21 #8 Ezri Konsa
20-21 #21 #8 Ezri Konsa

Saturday, 23 January 2021 | Ezri Konsa leaps as Emiliano Martínez saves under pressure from Andy Carroll

20-21 #21 #4 Dean Smith
20-21 #21 #4 Dean Smith

Saturday, 23 January 2021 | A lonely Dean Smith watches from the stand as he serves his one match touchline ban following the controversial defeat at Manchester City

20-21 #21 #9 Ollie Watkins
20-21 #21 #9 Ollie Watkins

Saturday, 23 January 2021 | Ross Barkley congratulates Ollie Watkins on his 9th goal of the season in the 13'


Game Summary

Manager | Dean Smith 

KO | 20.00 |
Referee | Simon Hooper |

 HT Score | 2-0 |

 FT Result | Won |
 FT Score | 2-0 |

Last 5 Games | DLLLW |

Scorer(s) | Ollie Watkins | 13' | Bertrand Traoré | 42' |

Assists | Jack Grealish | 42' |

League Position | 8th | +3 |

Team News

The banned Dean Smith names an unchanged line up from the controversial defeat to Manchester City with one exception as John McGinn also serves a ban after receiving five bookings, McGinn is replaced by Marvelous Nakamba for his second league start of the season.

Trézéguet returns to the squad for the first time since Monday, 30 November 2020 after suffering from head & hamstring injuries and COVID-19 respectively.

Line Up

GK Emiliano Martínez |

RB Matty Cash |

CB Ezri Konsa |

CB Tyrone Mings |

LB Matt Targett |

M Douglas Luiz |

M Marvelous Nakamba |

M Jack Grealish | ASSIST | 42' | SUB OFF 88' |

M Ross Barkley | SUB OFF 80' | 

W Bertrand Traoré | GOAL | 42' | SUB OFF 80' |

CF Ollie Watkins | GOAL | 13' |


W Trézéguet for W Bertrand Traoré | 80' |

W Anwar El Ghazi for M Ross Barkley | 80' |

M Jacob Ramsey for M Jack Grealish | 88' |

Unused Substitutes

GK Tom Heaton

LB Neil Taylor

CB Björn Engels

RB Ahmed Elmohamady

RB Frédéric Guilbert

CF Keinan Davis



Match Stats

Possession F | 59%
Possession A | 41%
Shots F | 14
Shots A | 7
Shots on Target F | 5
Shots on Target A | 1
Corners F | 5
Corners A | 4
Fouls F | 9

Fouls A | 18

Team Stats

Starting XI Average Age | 25.56 | 

Oldest Player | GK Emiliano Martínez | 28.41 |

Youngest Player | M Douglas Luiz | 22.73 |

Not Selected

GK Jed Steer


Injury | 2 |

CF Wesley | Knee, ACL 1 Jan 20 - 31 Jan 21 |

CB Kortney Hause | Foot, 20 Jan 21 - Unknown |

Suspended | 1 |

M John McGinn | One Match |

Loaned Out | 4 |

W Indiana Vassilev | Burton Albion | 17 Sep 20 - 31 May 21 |

CF Cameron Archer | Solihull Moors | 2 Oct 20 - 3 Jan 21 |

GK Lovre Kalinić | HNK Hajduk Split | 18 Jan 21 - 30 Jun 21 |

M Conor Hourihane | Swansea City | 20 Jan 20 - 31 May 21 |

Unregistered | 1 |

M Henri Lansbury |

On this day 23rd January 2021

Villa had now kept 10 clean sheets so far in the campaign including nine of their 17 Premier League games this season, with only Manchester City (10) recording a shutout more often.

 Villa (W9-D2-L6) equalled their total number of Premier League victories in the entire 2019-20 season (W9-D8-L21).

Jack Grealish's assist for Bertrand Traoré's goal on 42' was his eighth in 17 Premier League games, one more than in his previous 70 appearances in the competition, spanning four different seasons (7).



*Villa boss Dean Smith*

Saturday, 23 January 2021


“I thought we were good especially in the first half. We overplayed a little in the second half and could have scored a couple more.


“i'm really pleased for Ollie Watkins, it always weighs on forwards’ minds (not scoring after a series of VAR decisions) and it was nice to get an early goal for himself. I'm really pleased with solid performance at 2-0 and another clean sheet at home.

“We have had three tough away games and we only got one point, there were some debatable decisions in the Manchester games but today we did well.

“I have Jack Grealish on four yellow cards and in last couple of days he has had a tight hamstring. When you feel the game is done you can take him off. Ross Barkley has had eight weeks out but both showed their qualities.”



*Villa boss Dean Smith on potential signings*

Saturday, 23 January 2021


“I have not spoken to our sporting director and there is obviously an inbound player and hopefully that is done soon.”



*Villa goalscorer Ollie Watkins*

Saturday, 23 January 2021

“I feel like it has been a long time coming i have been getting into the right areas, it has been frustrating.

“As a striker you always want to score goals, I have been unlucky and thankfully it went in today. I kept my eye on the ball and the next thing I knew it was in the back of the net.

“We have been unlucky, played against a few good sides but we are back to winning ways. Second half we were sloppy and if we concentrated a little bit more we could have punished them for three or four.

“The goals will always come if I keep going in the box, it came off a defender’s shin tonight and fell for me.”

Match Report

*BBC Sport*

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith believes his side can "do something special" after they beat Newcastle to increase the pressure on manager Steve Bruce. 

Villa moved above Chelsea and Southampton into eighth and are now just five points behind fourth-placed Liverpool with two games in hand.

Despite playing a more positive 5-3-2 formation, the visitors were undone by a Villa team whose manager watched from the stands following his touchline ban. 

Smith’s impressive outfit still showed the quick attacking interplay which has been a feature of their season as Ollie Watkins ended a run of nine league games without a goal when he headed in the opener following Fabian Schar’s mistake.

Smith, who would not be drawn on his side’s European aspirations, said: “I’m really pleased with the team spirit and attitude, we can do something special but we have to keep working game by game.

“I am really pleased for Ollie Watkins, it always weighs on forward’s minds [not scoring for a while] and it was nice to get an early goal for himself. Really pleased, solid performance at 2-0 and another clean sheet at home.”

Newcastle, who have scored only once in their past eight games, lacked the sort of confidence in front of goal that Villa showed in doubling their lead.

Bertrand Traore played a one-two with Jack Grealish before cannoning a shot in off the crossbar. 

There were first-half opportunities for Bruce’s side, who introduced Allan Saint-Maximin - after a long coronavirus absence - and Ryan Fraser for the final 19 minutes. 

But after their only shot on target in the fourth minute, they did not overly trouble a Villa team who have at least one game in hand on all the teams above them except Everton. 

Defeat for Newcastle means they are winless in 10 games and slip to 16th, seven points above the relegation zone. 

Newcastle fans, who have been critical of Bruce's style, might point to Villa as a team who can play positive attacking football with similar resources. 

The fact Villa have enjoyed an upward curve since Bruce left the club in 2018 will not be lost on them, and even though the Newcastle manager was right to say prior to this game that Smith has enjoyed the benefits of last summer’s investment in players, Villa have been a joy to watch this season.

In contrast, Newcastle, who started the season positively, have been in a rut. Debate about Bruce’s formations have been rife on Tyneside and his position came under further discussion on Saturday after former Magpies manager Rafael Benitez left his job in China. 

But in picking a 5-3-2 formation, it did seem to offer a better balance. Jonjo Shelvey, Miguel Almiron and the deeper Jeff Hendrick made up the midfield, allowing Andy Carroll to support Callum Wilson up front. 

For much of the first half it looked promising. But when getting into good positions, Newcastle were let down by poor crossing or finishing, with Carroll wasting two good opportunities. 

Their dwindling confidence was not helped by Schar’s error when he failed to clear Matt Targett’s first-time cross, allowing Watkins to nod past a flapping Karl Darlow.

Traore’s finish put a comfortable distance between the two sides and Newcastle never looked like breaking through.

There was a brief lift once Saint-Maximin and Fraser came on with the latter almost getting on the end of Almiron’s through ball, but it was another dismal night for Bruce, who has plenty to ponder as he attempts to arrest a worrying slide towards the bottom three. 

*Villa hotting up for European chase *

In losing three of their past four games, Villa have been on their worst run of the season. 

Yet this performance, plus the fact that a draw and two defeats in the league came against Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City, showed that Smith’s team are still on the right track, especially after recovering from a coronavirus outbreak in their squad. 

By moving above Chelsea and within touching distance of the top four, European ambitions must still feature in Smith’s plans. 
Despite sitting in the stands on a freezing night after criticising the officials in the midweek defeat by Manchester City, his side will have provided fans with much optimism for the rest of the season with another efficient attacking display.

They might have been fortunate for the first goal, although Targett’s cross was excellent, but Traore’s fifth goal of the season three minutes before half-time typified their approach despite Newcastle claiming Darlow was fouled beforehand. 

There could have been more for Villa, with the impressive Grealish curling one effort wide. The effervescent Watkins, who had a first-half strike ruled out for offside, could also have added to his nine goals this season.

But with their defence well-marshalled by the vocal Tyrone Mings, and Douglas Luiz providing cover in midfield, Villa ran out comfortable winners. 


*The Guardian*

Saturday, 23 January 2021


*Watkins and Traoré on target as Villa pile pressure on Bruce and Newcastle*

The pressure on Steve Bruce grew heavier with this emphatic defeat to his former club, who swaggered back into the top half of the table thanks to goals by Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traoré. Newcastle have not won for 10 matches in all competitions and although they are seven points above 18th place, they are far from safe from relegation. Bruce’s position looks even more precarious.

Within moments of the final whistle at Villa Park, Newcastle fans vented their anger over 200 miles away, descending on St James’ Park with banners calling for Bruce to go.

“I’m disappointed to hear that,” said Bruce, who insisted, all the same, that he is “absolutely confident we’ll be OK”. He attributed that confidence to the returns to action of Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser, who were introduced from the bench with 20 minutes left against Villa.

“It’s the first time I’ve been able to play them in tandem this season and we saw glimpses of what they can do together.” At least Bruce’s ability to spot positives amid glum performances remains first rate. They never looked like gaining anything from this contest.

On and off the pitch, buoyant Villa stand as almost a perfect contrast to Newcastle. 

That said, Dean Smith watched from the naughty step in the stands after his red card for protesting too stridently during  Wednesday’s defeat at Manchester City. But there was no doubt that Bruce came into this game as the manager most in trouble. Especially after news broke that Rafa Benítez is available again after leaving his post in the Chinese Super League.

Newcastle actually started well against Villa. But they peaked in the fourth minute. Miguel Almirón fired off what turned out to be their only shot on target, a piffling effort from 20 yards that barely made Emi Martínez move enough to get warm.

Karl Darlow made an equally straightforward stop to foil Matt Targett two minutes later after a Villa corner came to the full-back at the edge of the area. Targett threatened in more familiar fashion in the 10th minute, when he ran on to a pass down the left wing and served a delicious cross that Watkins just failed to reach. Newcastle ignored the warning. Soon came the punishment.

Targett combined with Jack Grealish down the left before curling over another cross towards Watkins. Fabian Schär tried to intercept but succeeded only in looping the ball into the air. Watkins reacted faster than Darlow, who seemed unsure whether he could use his hands to claim what might have been construed as a back pass. The striker had no doubt what to do and duly nodded into the net from close range for his seventh league goal of his first season in the top flight.

Newcastle remained slow-witted for the next few minutes and almost fell further behind when Ross Barkley sent a header just wide from a free-kick. 

Andy Carroll briefly unsettled Villa after crosses from Javier Manquillo but Newcastle’s mini-uprising was soon put down. After his corner was half-cleared, Grealish regained possession and played a low pass into the path of Traoré, who ran on to it and guided a lovely shot in off the underside of the crossbar from 16 yards.

Villa, by now dominant, nearly added a third early in the second half, with Watkins denied by Darlow before Douglas Luiz shanked wide. Newcastle’s defenders were again conspicuous by their confusion. Going forward, Villa continued to radiate energy and invention, whereas Newcastle looked increasingly limited.

Fraser had a chance to make an instant impact moments after his introduction but the ever-reliable Ezri Konsa got back to block his shot. 

Bruce may have been encouraged but Martínez did not have anything to do in the second period.

Not so Darlow, who made a brilliant stop to thwart Trezeguet at the death. “We’ve been stuck on 19 points for a while,” said Bruce. “The quicker we get a win, the quicker the confidence will come back.”

Villa positively fizz with confidence and vim. “I’m really pleased with the effort and team spirit,’ said Smith. “When you’ve got the attitudes of the young men that we have, then you can do something special.”