Premier League preview: Aston Villa v Newcastle
By Football News
Aston Villa and Newcastle will both attempt to arrest dramatic form slides when they meet at Villa Park on Tuesday.
Paul Lambert's men currently sit one point clear of the relegation zone and have a goal difference of minus 25 - six worse than bottom-placed Queens Park Rangers.
Having been eliminated of the FA and League Cups by lower-league opposition, Villa have also failed to win any of their last six league games dating back to a shock 3-1 triumph against Liverpool at Anfield in mid-December.
The Magpies are in the league spot directly above Villa, two points clear of the drop zone, and have lost four of their last five domestic encounters this season.
Strong rumours have persisted about Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini returning to his home country for personal reasons but it appears the Argentine will remain at the club until the end of the season.
Despite their dire form, Villa have not dipped into the transfer market because of a lack of funds and have instead decided to promote youth from within and build a young side.
Newcastle have been the opposite with manager Alan Pardew signing five French players during the January window including French internationals Mathieu Debuchy and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
The loss Newcastle seems to be ruing the most is the departure of talisman Demba Ba, whose absence is even more pronounced by the poor form of Papiss Cisse.
There is doubt over several Villa first-team players for the clash with Nathan Baker (hamstring), Richard Dunne (groin) and Fabien Delph (ankle) all undergoing fitness tests while Chris Herd (ankle), Marc Albrighton (ankle) and Gary Gardner (knee) will be absent.
Pardew will not be able to call upon the services of Ryan Taylor (knee), Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring) and Dan Gosling (knee) with Yohan Cabaye (groin) and Danny Simpson (toe) in doubt.
The two sides met at St James' Park in September with Newcastle's Ben Arfa cancelling out Ciaran Clark's first-half goal.
Newcastle have not won at Villa Park since February 2006 but Villa have an awful home record this season scoring an equal league-low eight goals in front of their own fans.
Physical target man Christian Benteke has scored seven of Villa's 19 goals this season and Lambert will be looking for his players to provide the big Belgian with some quality service.
French international Yohann Cabaye returned from a two-month injury lay-off against Reading last weekend and Newcastle will be hoping the playmaker can get match sharp and pull the strings in midfield.