David Prutton predicts Newcastle United vs Aston Villa result

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez

Championship leaders Newcastle United host Aston Villa on Monday night, but may perhaps need a win to stay at the summit.

Newcastle United manager Rafa BenitezNewcastle United manager Rafa Benitez

David Prutton has told Sky Sports that he expects Aston Villa to put up a brave fight when they travel to St James' Park to face Newcastle United on Monday night, but ultimately leave empty handed.

Of all of the fixtures in the Championship over the coming days, there is perhaps no game as clear cut on paper as Newcastle's clash with Steve Bruce's men.

The Magpies are currently top of the table, and have not lost in the league since their first game in January. Meanwhile, Villa have lost seven of their last eight in all competitions and have not tasted victory since beating Burton Albion on Boxing Day.

But despite the form book and the current table suggesting that the gulf could not really be that much bigger at the moment - Villa are 16th, 30 points behind Rafa Benitez's side - Prutton has suggested that there will be just one goal between the two teams.

Aston Villa Manager Steve BruceAston Villa manager Steve Bruce

"It's a tough one. Both have assembled expensive teams but they are operating on vastly different levels. There is something Steve Bruce needs to address at Aston Villa, and his players owe him a big performance and results. But at this moment in time, with the way Newcastle are playing and how they are quite comfortable in large patches at home, it will be a tough one for Villa," he told Sky Sports when explaining why he expects Newcastle to win 2-1.

"I don't think it is going to be particularly rampant but with Villa coming off a defeat to Barnsley, Newcastle will know they have the capabilities to beat Steve Bruce's side."

Having lost against some of the sides around them, Steve Bruce will be hoping that going into a game as underdogs - something that, despite their form, has not been that common this season - will give their squad all the motivation they need to put in the kind of performance that they clearly have the quality to put in.

But it may perhaps need to be a flawless display to get the better of a Newcastle team that will know that a win could be necessary if the Magpies are to go back to the top - should Brighton beat Barnsley on Saturday - or could allow them to increase the gap between themselves and the chasing pack should the Seagulls slip up two days before.

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch