Five key talking points after Villa’s disappointing heavy defeat at Newcastle

Aston Villa suffered a 4-0 defeat to Newcastle Utd on Saturday following a bitterly disappointing second-half performance on Tyneside.

After a decent opening 45 minutes in which we were able to assert ourselves, frustrate the hosts and create some moments where we looked a threat, things began to unravel just before half-time.

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While Newcastle’s opener just before the break was a blow, Villa had no answer after conceding a second shortly after the restart and ultimately went on to collapse in what was a poor second-half display as the hosts produced wave after wave of pressure.

After the high of last week’s win over Brentford, this was certainly a painful reminder of our flaws and vulnerabilities and we undoubtedly have a long way to go yet to get on the right track on a consistent basis.

Unai Emery has plenty of work to do

While there was real optimism after the win over Brentford, things came crashing back down as we looked a shadow of the team that played so well last week, particularly in the second half.

It was a timely reminder of how much work Emery has on his hands, not only in terms of making tactical and coaching improvements but also to improve the mentality and mindset of the players.

We didn’t react well after suffering a setback and completely lost our way as we failed to deal with Newcastle’s pressure. While Emery would have taken positives from last weekend’s performance, he’ll have identified plenty of areas in which we need to be better in this one.

Credit to Danks despite poor end to mini-tenure

It obviously didn’t go well for him or the team in this game, but credit to Aaron Danks for the job that he did stepping in and taking charge on a temporary basis after Steven Gerrard’s departure.

That can’t have been easy for him or the coaching staff that was left in place, but they did a top job of preparing the players and making important tweaks to put us in a better position to get something from these two games.

It also potentially gave Emery a different look to assess when figuring out which system and personnel suit certain ideas and that’s an important foundation for him coming into the role. It remains to be seen if Danks has a place in his coaching staff, but if he doesn’t, we wish him the best for the future.

Attacking quartet, midfield go missing

After such an impressive effort last time out, our midfield duo and front four couldn’t have the same level of influence on this game and that was a big disappointment.

Douglas Luiz and Leander Dendoncker were overrun in the second half and couldn’t help contain Newcastle’s attacking players, while we lacked the same level of clinical and ruthless play that we showed against Brentford in the opening 45 minutes.

Danks was right to show faith in the same group and give them a chance to build on their last performance, but after a decent first half, they simply didn’t have the answers as a unit to cope.

Defensive frailties remain

What really stood out in the second half was just how badly we defended, not only for the goals but in general too as Newcastle went close to adding a few more.

Whether it was a lack of pressure or urgency in closing players down or misreading the game and getting caught out or leaving players unmarked in the box, it was a shambolic defensive performance after the break.

Emery is known for setting up his teams to be difficult to break down with defensive shape, organisation and work ethic all key principles. The current players will need to step up and do significantly better if we are to improve on some of the defensive showings so far this season.

Intriguing assessments ahead for Emery on players

There promises to be a fascinating period ahead now where Emery will assess the players at his disposal and figure out who fits into his plans and who is – and who isn’t – good enough to carry out his instructions.

The incoming Villa boss has a handful of games before the January transfer window, either side of the World Cup break, and so he’ll gain valuable insight in the coming weeks on his new group while also undoubtedly drawing on his preparation coming into the job.

Given some of the weaknesses that certain individuals continue to show consistently despite managerial changes, there could be some shocks ahead in terms of those considered not to be up to the level required by Emery.

Having appointed a coach with such experience and pedigree at the top level, Villa will now back the decisions he makes and allow him to implement and install his ideas, even if it means big changes to the look of the side and replacing individuals who have been key pieces for a long time.