Ben Arfa gives Newcastle the lead at Aston Villa


It may have taken 20 minutes for Newcastle to take the lead at Aston Villa, but anyone watching knew that moment was coming. The team that took to the pitch at Villa Park may have looked like Paul Lambert’s revived and reassembled Lions, but once Newcastle started pressing, the splinters in the defense turned into giant cracks.

Right from the start, Loic Remy sensed that he’d be able to get the better of Villa right back Matthew Lowton. The Magpies took their attack down the left, and it didn’t take long before Papiss Cisse got into the area, but he put his shot wide. Just a minute later, Cisse was forcing a save from Brad Guzan.

So it was no surprise that Newcastle’s goal came at the expense of Lowton. Villa gave the ball away inside their own third, and despite a comical series of tackles couldn’t regain possession. Remy went at Lowton and managed a bit of trickery, his ball coming off Cisse and falling kindly at the feet of Hatem Ben Arfa. The attacker easily knocked his shot in from close range.

Ten minutes later, Villa’s misery was compounded. Minutes after finally getting in a shot, courtesy of Andreas Weimann, center back Jores Okore was forced out with injury. That’s four games and three early substitutions for Aston Villa defenders.