Going down 1-0 to a Damien Duff own goal at Villa Park, Newcastle United and then-boss Alan Shearer were mercilessly taunted by the home support as they limply slipped into the Championship.
Nearly six years on and now it is Aston Villa who stare into the precipice after 104 years in the top flight. While both clubs are considered contenders for the drop, the 10-point difference between the Premier League’s bottom side and 15th-placed Newcastle is a gap that the Birmingham club do not look like closing right now.
A loss on Saturday would be another nail in the coffin for Rémi Garde’s side.
Speaking to Sky Sports after their 2-0 loss to Arsenal on Sunday, the Frenchman called his sides’ trip to St. James’ Park as one “we will have to win if we want to be safe”.
The Villans have failed to do that since the opening day of the season and no team have ever survived with just six points at this stage of the season. In contrast, Newcastle have won their last two outings against Liverpool and Tottenham and the mood on Tyneside has improved after a string of poor performances.
Victory against Villa will go a long way towards safety given how tight previous seasons' battles have been.
For Villa, Saturday marks the beginning of a crucial period.
With games against West Ham United, Norwich City, and Sunderland to come over the Christmas period, they have the chance to pick up points against teams around them that could start a remarkable revival in fortune.
Failure in these fixtures could see Villa dead and buried by early January. Just do not expect any sympathy from Newcastle’s fans.
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