Aston Villa v Newcastle team news: Isak starts, Almiron returns to squad

The first match of Gameweek 31 takes place at Villa Park, where Aston Villa host Newcastle United in the 12:30 GMT kick-off.

Two of the league’s most in-form sides square off, with Eddie Howe’s side on five consecutive wins in their push for Champions League football and Villa slightly behind with four-in-a-row. Such has been the hosts’ form under Unai Emery, they now find themselves in sixth place and with a real chance of grabbing a European finish.

Newcastle won the reverse fixture 4-0, days before Emery was finally able to take over with a work permit. Since then, only Arsenal and Manchester City have picked up more points.

Both sides make one change from last weekend, with the home side starting Leander Dendoncker (£4.7m) over hamstring victim Leon Bailey (£4.4m). Three others remain sidelined – Matty Cash (£4.6m), Philippe Coutinho (£6.6m) and Boubacar Kamara (£4.8m).

As expected, Ollie Watkins (£7.6m) leads the way hoping to continue a streak of nine goals from 11 outings. Tyrone Mings (£4.5m) and Alex Moreno (£4.4m) start too.

The Magpies bring in Anthony Gordon (£5.1m) over Sean Longstaff (£4.3m), with Alexander Isak (£6.7m) preferred to Callum Wilson (£6.9m) up front and substitute Miguel Almiron (£5.4m) making a quick return to proceedings from a thigh injury.

Whilst Newcastle’s defence has been the season’s best in several areas, only one clean sheet has arrived from nine matches. Instead it’s Villa with a currently watertight backline – five successful shut-outs from seven, including their last three home games.


Aston Villa XI: Martinez; Young, Konsa, Mings, Moreno; McGinn, Dendoncker, Douglas Luiz, Ramsey; Buendia, Watkins

Subs: Olsen, Sinisalo, Diego Carlos, Chambers, Digne, Revan, Patterson, Duran, Traore

Newcastle United XI: Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn; Willock, Guimaraes, Joelinton; Murphy, Isak, Gordon

Subs: Dubravka, Lascelles, Targett, Manquillo, Ritchie, Almiron, Longstaff, Anderson, Wilson


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