It’s Newcastle at Villa Park on Tuesday night.
Something’s gone wrong this season. Not only are the Villa doing well but we’ve reversed the Newcastle matches. Normally we go up there for the most awkward kick-off time imaginable and they can stroll down to civilisation at their leisure. This time we journeyed to the frozen wastes at a more civilised hour, much good it did us, and they get the midweek expedition.
Something else is a bit different with Newcastle this season. They finally seem to have got over their comedy loathing (if you want to feel old, think back and work out how long ago all that started) and they’re beginning to think of us as having some sort of common bond, namely being part of the Not Quite As Big Two, bravely threatening the stranglehold of the Big Six. This is because despite being owned by Saudi Arabia and when they that happened reckoning they’d be signing Lionel Messi to play for the reserves, they still didn’t become as important as they thought they were. Then again, nobody is. And it doesn’t help them when they’re currently level on points with Wolves.
On Tuesday night we’ll be up against a manager who looks like he was in one of the later, very bad series of Grange Hill then appeared for a bit in Eastenders before popping up on Guess Where They Are Now? clickbait articles working at B&Q. They’ve also got Matt Targett still there and picking up a wage. God knows what kind of team we’ll put out although you know there’ll be at least a couple on the bench you won’t have heard of. We might be unveiling a surprise record signing or having an injured player returning although I wouldn’t count on it.
Last season we battered Newcastle in one of our best performances for a long time. They’re nowhere near as good now, we’re still the Villa so three points should be ours. Try not to laugh too much or it might be another fifteen years before they stop sulking.