Aston Villa vs. Newcastle United: Winners and Losers from Premier League Game
Week 2 of the Premier League kicked off with a dour 0-0 draw between Aston Villa and Newcastle United, but while viewers may have been left underwhelmed, there's plenty to note from both sides.
By 3 p.m. on Saturday, Villa were top of the Premier League with four points, crowning a strong start to the season in which they're yet to concede.
The Magpies got off the mark after last week's loss to Manchester City, giving Alan Pardew a positive to take north but also a few lessons too.
Who were the winners and losers in this duel?
Winner: Paul Lambert
Paul Lambert's men left a lot to be desired in the attacking phase on Saturday, but much of that is outside of his control. Until Christian Benteke (Achilles) and Libor Kozak (broken leg) return to the scene, he's scraping the barrel a little in his choices.
But defence is where he and assistant manager Roy Keane can have an impact, and Aston Villa are yet to concede a goal in the 2014-15 season.
Philippe Senderos and Ron Vlaar look great, Alan Hutton is a machine and Aly Cissokho is fairly dependable.
This is a team most pre-season predictions had to go down; to go 180 minutes without conceding bucks that belief.
Loser: Remy Cabella
Remy Cabella excited and delighted on his debut at St. James' Park, but here in Birmingham he struggled all game long.
He's not physical, doesn't like the rough treatment and was nudged off the ball far too easily by every Aston Villa player.
He rolled a golden chance to score in the first half wide after somehow unbalancing himself before shooting, and with expectations so high for the France international, he really flunked it here.
Winner: Alan Hutton
They say Jesus returned to life after three days in a caved tomb; Alan Hutton may well have returned to life at Aston Villa after three loan spells away from the club.
Did I just compare Hutton to Jesus? Maybe.
He's been a breath of fresh air for Paul Lambert after the Scot welcomed him back from exile, and he's now completed 180 minutes of excellent football against Stoke City and Newcastle United.
He got Michael Owen's Man of the Match Award on BT Sport—not that that means much—but it's an indicator of how hard he's worked to revive a career in claret and blue.
Loser: Strike Forces—Both of Them
The strike forces on show at Villa Park were absolutely horrendous on Saturday, with a lot left to be desired in terms of execution, decision-making and final-third efficiency.
Andi Weimann had an absolute shocker, Gabby Agbonlahor struggled to retain the ball and fouled too often, Emmanuel Riviere essentially disappeared and Ayoze Perez was substituted on only to be substituted back off.
Villa recorded no shots on target, while Newcastle managed just four, per Squawka.com.
Winner: Jack Colback
A slim ray of light for Newcastle United once more, Jack Colback played his second excellent game in the midfield engine room for his boyhood club.
He's looking to be one of the more astute free signings of the summer, with his tracking of runners and commitment to closing down of particular note at Villa Park on Saturday.
He's very efficient at what he does.
Loser: Mike Williamson
Mike Williamson has become part of the furniture at Newcastle United in defence, but in picking up a red card late in the day on Saturday, he's put his own position at risk.
Fabricio Coloccini had a good game in defence and the Magpies have replacements waiting to come in. Steven Taylor came in for him to finish the game, while Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is still kicking around on Tyneside somewhere too.
Williamson's an odd one to gauge, as while statistically he's a monster, in reality he's a little limited. How this position battle develops in the future will be interesting.