Fabricio Coloccini believes Newcastle United’s comeback win over Tottenham could prove to be a decisive moment in the team’s season as they prepare to host relegation-threatened Aston Villa on Saturday.
A run of just one win from their opening 12 matches of the Premier League campaign had left Newcastle staring at the prospect of a grim battle to avoid the drop.
Steve McClaren’s men have taken significant steps in the right direction in recent weeks, recording three victories in their previous five outings, including successive wins at home to Liverpool and away to Tottenham last time out.
Newcastle trailed going into the closing stages of the match at White Hart Lane last week, only to come away with three unexpected but potentially vital points thanks to an Aleksandar Mitrovic equaliser and Ayoze Perez’s last-minute winner.
And Coloccini has claimed a fresh mindset helped the previously brittle Magpies to inflict Spurs’ first home defeat of 2015-16.
“We changed our mentality as normally when we are losing games we have lost our heads and now I think we stay in the game and we found a goal,” the defender said.
“Then we trusted in ourselves that we could win the game and we got ourselves the three points.”
It remains to be seen if Newcastle’s newfound resolve will be tested at St James’ Park this weekend, when struggling Villa arrive in search of just their second league win of the season and first under manager Remi Garde, who replaced the sacked Tim Sherwood on November 2.
The Midlands side lost 2-0 at home to Arsenal last time out, leaving them bottom on just six points, eight adrift of safety.
Jordan Veretout has been a regular in recent weeks under compatriot Garde and the French midfielder hopes to give Villa fans the gift of hope as the club seeks to avoid being relegated for the first time since 1986-87.
“We have the game at Newcastle coming up this weekend and we’re determined to pick up a good result there,” he told the Villa website.
“Obviously people talk about presents at this time of year and for me, it’s about bringing Villa up the table and saving us from relegation – that’s my aim and the aim of the entire squad.”
McClaren and Newcastle continue to battle with one of the Premier League’s worst injury lists. Tim Krul (knee) is out for the season, Gabriel Obertan (hamstring) and Massadio Haidara (knee) are not expected back until March and Steven Taylor (hamstring) will not return until January at the earliest.
Mike Williamson and Jamaal Lascelles (both hamstring) are expected back for the home game against West Ham on December 26, while Cheick Tiote (groin/pelvis) could be back this weekend. Emmanuel Riviere is yet to feature this season after knee surgery.
Villa have a better fitness outlook, although Micah Richards will miss the trip to Newcastle, while Craig Gardner is in doubt, both due to knee problems.
Jordan Amavi (knee) is out for the season.
Key Opta stats:
– The last time Aston Villa won this fixture at St James’ Park was one of only three occasions where a team has had three players sent off in the same Premier League game (April 2005 – Lee Bowyer, Kieron Dyer and Steven Taylor).
– Villa have won twice as many Premier League points away (4) than at home (2) in 2015-16.
– All seven of Georginio Wijnaldum’s Premier League goals this season have come at home – only Jamie Vardy (8) has scored more home goals in the opening 16 MD’s of 2015-16 (Aguero also has seven home goals).
– Gabriel Agbonlahor has failed to score in eight Premier League apps (566 mins) in 2015-16 – he has scored in each of his previous 10 Premier League seasons as a player.
– Idrissa Gueye has made more passes (693), tackles (41) and interceptions (46) than any other Aston Villa player in the Premier League this season.