Watkins and Traore for Villa as Bruce's men capitulate once more!
Aston Villa 2-0 Newcastle United
Travelling to Villa Park, Newcastle were 9 games without a win and over 13 hours without a goal from open play. It wouldn't take a genius to figure out what happened next then...
A goal inside 15 minutes from an out of form Ollie Watkins, heading over a stranded Darlow after Schar had put his keeper in trouble would be the worst possible start for the Magpies. Shelvey guilty of not stopping a simple cross from Targett that lead to the goal.
And just before half time it was two. Grealish recycling a corner and finding Traore who would toe-poke home from over 20 yards out.
The game over before half time with Villa in cruise control from the start.
Nothing about this game was a surprise. There was no visible game plan. No real effort and desire to go and get the ball when they didn't have it with huge gaps between Newcastle's lines (if you can call them that). Just the hit and hope football of a manager who has quite frankly stolen a living for too long. One who admitted himself he doesn't really 'do tactics'.
The result as depressing as it was obvious to everyone other than our chairman it would seem.
Steve Bruce had made four changes again for this one. With Hayden dropping into a back 5 for Newcastle whilst Lewis and Hendrick were amongst those getting start.
There was also the welcome sight of Allan Saint-Maximin on a strong bench which also included the attacking flair of Fraser, Gayle, Joelinton and Ritchie. Quite why Bruce plumped for Hendrick beyond many before kick off.
See the Match FACTFILE at the foot of the page for details of the starting line-up, subs and key in match activity.
And it wouldn't take long for Villa to take the lead. A simple goal. Without a goal in 9 games, it was Ollie Watkins who would punish some sloppy defending from Newcastle. Shelvey allowing Matt Targett to whip in a cross that Schar could only divert into the path of the out of form Villa striker who would beat the onrushing Darlow to head over the keeper and into the unguarded goal.
Replays seemed to show Watkins was clearly offside when the ball was crossed, with VAR not looking at the potential offside given Schar touched the ball. A quite crazy decision given Schar was only in that position to try and stop the cross. Crazy decision and you could hear Bruce rolling out the excuses already!
A rare foray forward for Newcastle would result in a free kick that would lead to a decent header from Lascelles following a Shelvey free kick. The big stoppers header being hacked clear.
Villa were now looking comfortable and it looked like just a matter of time before they would create another clear chance. Newcastle only chance of finding anything at the other end seemed to be Carroll causing a nuisance of himself in the Villa box from the odd lumped in cross.
And Watkins would have the ball in the net again on 33 minutes, a lovely finish following a pin point through ball from Grealish, only to see the goal correctly ruled out for an offside with Lewis just stepping up in time with the Newcastle back line again looking fragile at best.
And just before half time it was two for Villa. A corner only being partially cleared would eventually fall to Grealish who would in turn pick out Traore who would toe poke in from 20 yards and in off the underside of the crossbar.
Into the second half and Villa could easily have been three ahead inside 3 minutes after Lewis inexplicably passed the ball to Douglas Luiz inside his own penalty area when trying to clear the ball. The Villa player so surprised to see the ball at his feet he prodded wide when totally unmarked.
With just 33% possession Newcastle looked like a Sunday league team of part time footballers who's only time to discuss tactics is in the pub on a Friday night, having a skin full before playing a game the next day!
A 'cheeky' elbow in the face of Shelvey, kneeling on the floor at the time, who certainly could have made more of the tap by Grealish and given the referee a decision to make also seemed to show the referee was in no mood to help out a struggling United team either. But then, if we can't even help ourselves!!!
The introduction of Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser with 20 minutes left would seemingly see Bruce throw caution to the wind. And their introduction almost paid immediate dividends with Almiron seizing of a loose Mings pass and almost find Fraser in the box with Newcastle finally pushing the ball forward.
Villa cruising however, and only failing to add to their tally as they seemed content to stroll through he second half.
Deep into injury time Darlow would spare Newcastle even further humiliation, pulling out a brilliant save.
Jamie Carragher hitting the nail on the head in summing up the match. 'Newcastle are a nothing club'.