Newcastle United and Aston Villa are both coming off goalless draws as they square off at St. James' Park on Friday.
Newcastle United were perhaps lucky to escape with a point against West Bromwich Albion last week. The draw has now placed the Magpies just a point above the drop zone. Newcastle United are 16th on the Premier League table with 27 points. Brighton and Fulham are 17th and 18th with 26 points each.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa's European dreams were further dented as Wolves held them to a 0-0 draw. Aston Villa had suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of Sheffield United prior to that and are currently 9th on the table with 40 points from 26 games.
They have two games in hand and a win against Newcastle United is critical to keeping their European dream alive. Dean Smith's men have missed Jack Grealish dearly and though he is nearing a return from injury, Aston Villa will not want to rush him and worsen his injury by deploying him before he has proved his fitness.
It's important to note that Newcastle United are unbeaten in their last 12 home games against Aston Villa. Seeing as Newcastle United have not won any of their last four games, this would be a good time for Aston Villa to break that streak and finally register a win at St. James' Park.
Newcastle United vs Aston Villa Head-to-Head
Newcastle United have had an edge over Aston Villa in the past 10 meetings between the two clubs. They have won three games while Villa have won two. Five matches have ended as draws.
The last time these two sides locked horns was in the corresponding fixture in the first half of the season when Aston Villa won the game 2-0.
Newcastle United form guide: W-L-L-D-D
Aston Villa form guide: D-L-W-L-D
Newcastle United vs Aston Villa Team News
Steve Bruce continues to be without a few key players. Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin are both sidelined with injuries and so are Fabian Schar and Miguel Almiron.
Injuries: Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin, Fabian Schar, Miguel Almiron
Dean Smith will be hoping that Jack Grealish can make it back in time for Friday's trip to St. James'. He is a doubt as are Anwar El Ghazi, Bertrand Traore, Morgan Sanson and Kortney Hause.
El Ghazi had an infected toe and couldn't get a boot on to play against Wolverhampton Wanderers, according to Dean Smith. Wesley is back in training but Friday's match might come too early for him.
Injuries: Matthew Cash
Doubtful: Anwar El Ghazi, Bertrand Traore, Morgan Sanson, Kortney Hause and Wesley
Newcastle United vs Aston Villa Predicted Lineups
Newcastle United Predicted XI (4-3-3): Martin Dubravka, Emil Krafth, Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark, Jamal Lewis, Hendrick, Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden, Joelinton, Andy Carroll, Ryan Fraser
Aston Villa Predicted XI (4-3-3): Emiliano Martinez; Matt Targett, Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa, Ahmed Elmohamady; John McGinn, Douglas Luiz; Trezeguet, Ross Barkley, Bertrand Traore; Ollie Watkins
Newcastle United vs Aston Villa Prediction
Aston Villa have been the much better side of late and over the course of the season as well. Newcastle United's poor form has got them dangerously close to the drop zone but they will have their work cut out for them against Aston Villa.
Prediction: Newcastle United 0-2 Aston Villa