Premier League Preview: Aston Villa v Newcastle United
By Football News
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert will be seeking a response when his side host Newcastle United on Saturday.
Lambert's men began their Premier League campaign in style with a 3-1 victory away at Arsenal on the opening day, but the wheels have fallen off somewhat since then.
They suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge before going down 1-0 to Liverpool in their last Premier League outing, courtesy of a strike from in-form Daniel Sturridge.
A three-week break from league action for the international fixtures should leave them refreshed ahead of the visit of Alan Pardew's side, although they will be taking nothing for granted.
Last season's 2-1 loss to Saturday's opponents aside, their home record against Newcastle offers some grounds for optimism.
They were unbeaten in five on home soil prior to that and only three times in the past 16 years have Newcastle scored more than once at Villa Park.
Lambert has made a number of additions in the close-season to ensure that they do not endure another repeat of last season's struggles, when they narrowly avoided relegation.
And one of them, Czech Republic striker Libor Kozak, could be handed his debut on Saturday.
The forward joined from Lazio in a £7million deal on transfer deadline day and Lambert is backing him to be a success.
"I know he can score goals," said the Villa boss.
"He’s a handful, he's played in a league renowned for some of the hardest defending you can come up against.
"I don’t bring players in to say: ‘You can sit on the bench for six months.’
"He’s here to help and that’s what he’ll do.
"We’ve got options now. I can do what I want because he's a No.9, which is what I think we’ve needed."
Defenders Nathan Baker and Antonio Luna could also feature for Villa after recent knocks, while Newcastle could welcome back Yohan Cabaye.
The Frenchman was linked with a move away from the club in the transfer window, but a potential switch to Arsenal never materialised.
He looks set to be recalled at Villa Park, while Loic Remy could be handed his first start since joining on loan from QPR.
The striker has been hampered by a calf injury since making the move but Pardew said: "I think he's got enough in the tank to be considered for a start. At some stage he needs to be pitched in.
"Since Demba (Ba) left, we've lacked a player that has increased our goal threat.
"With all due respect to the players that we have, we need a player that can put the other team on the back foot. I think Remy does that.
"We've got Papiss Cisse, Shola Ameobi and Yoan Gouffran to complement that. I think hopefully they will all stay fit."