Before a ball was kicked this season, Aston Villa and Newcastle’s two Championship meetings were widely hailed as a double-header that may decide who tops the table come the end of the campaign.
The two fallen giants spent heavily in the summer as they looked to secure immediate returns to the top-tier, and while the Magpies remain on course to do just that, the Villans are slipping ever closer to the League One trapdoor with their recent run of form truly abysmal.
— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) February 21, 2017
It was hoped in Birmingham that a big clash would bring the best out of Steve Bruce’s men, but the journey back from St James’ Park would have been a long one on the back of a 2-0 loss, in which the gap between the teams was vast.
And few players summed this up better than Jamaal Lascelles, who captained his side in typically authoritative fashion.
The commanding centre-back was at his very best on the banks of the River Tyne, winning a staggering ten aerial duels and making 19 clearances (both more than any other player on the pitch), while putting in one tackle and committing only one foul. He even kept things ticking over in a technical sense with 74% pass completion and 66 touches of the ball.