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Remy return can help Newcastle recover from horror home run

On the face of it, Newcastle v Aston Villa, Premier League 9th against 12th, is a fairly meaningless mid-table clash this Sunday, but that’s not the case at all. The Magpies, it is true, are safe from relegation with 37 points and too far away from the top six to entertain serious hopes of getting into Europe..

But they are on such a miserable home run at the moment that Alan Pardew will be desperate to turn things around before it all gets really ugly. Apparently he has been telling his players some hard truths this past week and will be looking for a big reaction in front of their long-suffering fans.

For Villa there is still a great deal more than just pride to play for this season. There may be nine clubs ahead of them in the betting list to be relegated, but points-wise they are dangerously close to the bottom three.

Paul Lambert’s side are badly in need of a good result or two before a tough run of fixtures next month and they will take heart from an away record better than any team in the bottom half of the Premier League (including wins at Southampton and Arsenal and a draw at Liverpool).

Even one goal might be enough to take all three points at Newcastle, who have quite alarmingly failed to find the net for more than six hours at St James’ Park, while losing 1-0 to Arsenal, 2-0 to Manchester City (both understandable), 3-0 to Sunderland (inexcusable) and 4-0 to Spurs.

The logical next step in that sequence is a 5-0 home defeat (Coral go 250/1 if you fancy it), but the return from injury and suspension of Cheick Tiote, Loic Remy and captain Fabricio Coloccini are three good reasons why Newcastle may stop the rot.

Remy (5/1 to score first or last, 5/4 at any time) is the only player at the club who has scored for Newcastle since they buried Stoke 5-1 on Boxing Day. Johan Cabaye, who scored twice in the 3-1 win at West Ham, has since moved to PSG and the failure to replace him has caused yet more consternation for the Geordie faithful.

So although the Villa players will be fancying their chances of yet another good result on the road, I think that they may be disappointed. 2-1 (8/1) and 2-0 (9/1) both make appeal.