Tag Archives: guzan

Kevin Kilbane column: time for Shay Given to get in the Villa team

12 goals in two games shows it's time for my old mate Shay to take back the gloves at Villa

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UPDATED:

21:05 GMT, 28 December 2012

Aston Villa conceded 12 goals in two games over Christmas.

It’s time for Paul Lambert to play Shay Given.

Shay Given should be Villa’s No 1, and he should come back to play for the Republic of Ireland and fight Keiren Westwood for the right to play for his country again.

It has been a difficult 2012 for my old Ireland team-mate who struggled with injuries, and by his own admission didn’t match his own high standards in the Euro 2012 finals, probably because he wasn’t fully fit.

Time for a change: Kevin Kilbane (left) thinks it's time for his old Republic of Ireland team-mate Shay Given (centre) to return to action for Aston Villa

Time for a change: Kevin Kilbane (left) thinks it's time for his old Republic of Ireland team-mate Shay Given (centre) to return to action for Aston Villa

He then gave up playing for Ireland, with the backing of new manager Paul Lambert, to concentrate on his Villa career, only to lose his place to Brad Guzan.

Shay is fully fit now, and still hungry to play.

Brad Guzan is not in his league as a keeper and it is time the Villa boss realised it and brought Shay’s brilliance, determination and experience back to his team.

He needs him.

Number two: Villa boss Paul Lambert (right) has preferred Brad Guzan this season, with Given only making two appearances in the Premier League, right at the start of the season

Number two: Villa boss Paul Lambert (right) has preferred Brad Guzan this season, with Given only making two appearances in the Premier League

Lambert did a good job at Norwich City and he deserved the chance to make a step up in his career and manage a bigger club with a history like Villa’s.

But it was always going to be difficult taking over a squad which has been constructed by three managers in a short space of time.

International return: Kilbane would also like to see Given make a return to the national side

Kilbane would also like to see Given make a return to the national side

He has turned to youth and Shay is not the only experienced player who is out of the team.

Darren Bent, Stephen Warnock and Alan Hutton are all out of favour and I can’t help thinking there must be an agenda.

They are all high earners and can presumably leave the club.

But the horrific 8-0 defeat at Chelsea, which could easily have been 11 or 12, exposed the lack of experience in the Villa team.

It is easy for younger players when things are going well and they are winning and playing with confidence.

Lambert, and his young players, need help from lads who have been there before and can take defeats and setbacks.

After a 4-0 defeat like the one suffered at home to Tottenham just days later, older players would normally go round and speak to the younger players on a personal level and try to help them cope.

Realistically no manager can talk to a player on a personal level in the dressing room straight after a game and he needs the old-heads to deal with any issues.

That’s hard when the team is so young. Who can they turn to That’s where a man like Shay Given comes into his own.

He performed brilliantly for Ireland for more than a decade and earned his 100 caps with world class performances.

We lost count of the number of crucial saves or moments of magic he pulled off to keep us in games, and win them like he did against Iran to get us to the World Cup.

Added to that he was an important character in the dressing room. He had 50 caps by his mid-20s and over time found his voice which comes with experience and respect for the things he did between the sticks.

New blood: Sunderland's Kieren Westwood is the current Republic of Ireland no. 1 but hasn't made a league appearance this season

New blood: Sunderland's Kieren Westwood is the current Republic of Ireland no. 1 but hasn't made a league appearance this season

Now I have heard Shay babbling some awful rubbish in dressing rooms and team meetings over the years, but you always listen to him.

And when he shouts during a game, he sort of screeches – it’s the most ear-splitting noise you will hear – but if you hear it, it doesn’t half make you alert.

It’s no coincidence that Aston Villa have had a good run in the Capital One Cup and reached the semi-finals.

Shay has played and it’s time Paul Lambert got his best keeper back in the side and used his experience in the Barclays Premier League.

He has been one of the best the world’s toughest league has seen, and he can reach those heights again.

Which is why he should also come back into the Ireland squad. He has actually played more games than Keiren Westwood who has been unfortunate to lose his place to Simon Mignolet at Sunderland but is realistically not going to oust the impressive Belgian unless he gets injured.

And a lack of experience behind him means Martin O’Neill is unlikely to let the new Ireland number go.

Experience: Kilbane (top row, third from left) and Given (bottom row, right) each earned more than 100 caps at international level

Experience: Kilbane (top row, third from left) and Given (bottom row, right) each earned more than 100 caps at international level

He has played more games for Ireland than Sunderland this season and that has to be a concern with the vital qualifiers against Austria and Sweden coming up in March.

Keiren might not like the idea, but competition from a keeper like Shay could only help him while he is not playing.

Even if Shay is not playing regularly by then, Giovanni Trapattoni should consider recalling him, just to have him around at an important time.

It comes down to experience again. And it’s time Shay’s was put to proper use for club and country.

The future looks grim…

If I was a Liverpool fan I would be very worried about the future of Luis Suarez.

Without him at Stoke City the other night, Liverpool had virtually nothing.

I don’t know if Daniel Sturridge is the answer, but I’ve always liked him and he can certainly help ease the burden on Suarez who worked himself into the ground at the Britannia Stadium.

Worry: Kilbane would be worried about losing Luis Suarez (front) if he was a Liverpool fan

Worry: Kilbane would be worried about losing Luis Suarez (front) if he was a Liverpool fan

But there were just signs that he was getting frustrated with the limitations of the individuals who are supposed to be helping him and creating chances, and perhaps with Liverpool’s standing in the Premier League at the moment.

He is a world class striker in a pretty average team and if a Champions League team from anywhere in Europe comes in with a silly bid, Liverpool might still have the power to turn it down, but you wonder if Suarez’s head would be turned by any interest.

Brendan Rodgers claimed before Christmas his team were still in Champions League contention but on Wednesday’s evidence they are a long way off.

Sadly Suarez looks like he is starting to realise his only chance of immediate Champions League action might be away from Anfield.

The Good and The Bad

Thumbs up

Jon Walters

I don’t think I have seen work-rate like Jon’s against Liverpool. He did everything at a sprint and mad life hell for the Liverpool defenders.

He got two great goals and his interaction with Kenwyne Jones was outstanding.

He’s the same with Peter Crouch and has a reading of their knockdowns and flick-ons which reminds me of Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn at Sunderland.

All good news for Ireland.

Form: Jon Walters' form can only be a good thing for his country - the Stoke striker scored two against Liverpool on Boxing Day

Form: Jon Walters' form can only be a good thing for his country – the Stoke striker scored two against Liverpool on Boxing Day

Thumbs down

Stats

I said on BBC Radio 5 live at Stoke that I felt they dominated Liverpool and deserved their win.

Then I was reliably informed on Twitter that the stats showed Liverpool had something like 60 per cent possession compared to Stoke’s 40.

That’s all very well but unless you’re going to create any chances, stats are a waste of time.

Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn sure they won"t roll over against Chelsea

Bunn fight! Norwich stopper sure his side won't roll over against rampant Chelsea

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Mark Bunn's declaration of intent against Chelsea could come back to haunt him on Boxing Day.

The stand-in Norwich goalkeeper has been outstanding since replacing the injured John Ruddy, who is out for three months with a torn thigh muscle.

Chelsea, however, are enjoying a rich vein of scoring form and fired eight past Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan on Sunday.

Roaring success: Goalkeeper Mark Bunn has impressed for Chris Hughton's Norwich City since replacing the injured John Ruddy

Roaring success: Goalkeeper Mark Bunn has impressed for Chris Hughton's Norwich City since replacing the injured John Ruddy

But Bunn, 28, insisted: 'I'm really looking forward to it because these are the sort of games where you can really make a name for yourself. As a goalkeeper, you know you are going to be busy so you have the chance to put in a big performance.

'John's injury was unfortunate for him, but it was fortunate for me because it gave me a chance and I’m determined to take it. I’m really enjoying myself at the moment and I want to make sure I stay in the team — even when John’s fit again.'

Norwich’s 10-match unbeaten run came to an end at West Brom on Saturday, but Bunn is convinced that Barclays Premier League rivals are taking Chris Hughton’s side seriously.

'I think a lot of teams probably saw playing against Norwich as an easy win,' added Bunn. 'But I think those teams are starting to get a bit more worried now when they play us. Because of that unbeaten run, I think people are sitting up and taking a lot more notice of us now.'

Blue is the colour: Chelsea smashed Aston Villa 8-0 last time out

Blue is the colour: Chelsea smashed Aston Villa 8-0 last time out

Former Blackburn back-up Bunn has also targeted a place in the Republic of Ireland squad in the New Year.

'I’ve spoken to them about it and hopefully I might be involved in the squad very soon. I qualify through my dad and grandmother. We have a lot of family in Ireland so there’s a big connection,’ said the Londoner.

'The retirement of Shay Given has given me a chance now and it would be a massive honour for me, a dream come true.'

Lee Cattermole: Sunderland will turn season around

Captain Cattermole: We can't hit the net but Sunderland will be alright

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UPDATED:

18:02 GMT, 5 November 2012

Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole insists Martin O’Neill’s shell-shocked players can turn around their season.

Saturday’s defeat to Aston Villa has left the Black Cats squandering in 16th and the stats are stacked against them.

They have not scored in eight hours, taking away Demba Ba’s own goal in the Tyne-Wear derby which makes him the club’s second top scorer Steven Fletcher who has five, but hasn’t scored in games.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/teampages/sunderland.html

Confident: Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole believes the club can reverse their stuttering start

Not that he’s had many chances. Sunderland have managed just 13 shots on target all season and it is a hindrance they struggled to shake off against Villa, who clocked up their first away win.

In fact Cattermole, who went agonisingly close when Sunderland were on top, managed the only shot on target, and even that was nearly chalked off because Steven Fletcher was judged offside after trying to beat Brad Guzan to the shot the American spilled.

The midfielder was outstanding but his efforts, which were acknowledged by a 40,000-plus crowd which stuck volubly with their increasingly desperate team, were not enough to prevent their second defeat of the season.

Cattermole said: 'The fans were magnificent towards the end whereas in the past they have got on the players' backs at times. Against Villa they were absolutely brilliant and we all appreciate that support.

'As a team we are absolutely devastated. We will stick together and it is as good a dressing room as I have ever been in.

'There is no arguing, there will be points that need to be made and nobody is happy with losing games. We have to win more than we lose this year, but the dressing room is very strong.

'The dressing room is absolutely brilliant and it is still up-beat. The lads are great. People can have disagreements, and it's good we can have a row with each other because we are all in it together. We understand that.

'People keep saying Johno because he is that good a player. He cant do it all of the time. We all have to help each other out.

'We have top, top footballers here. You are going to see some quality here this season. Before Saturday we had only lost to Man City and there is a lot of pressure on the team for not scoring goals. We have to keep working hard. The quality will come through in the end.

'We can do different drills in training, we have been doing that, getting the ball out wide. At the minute we are not doing the right stuff.

'It's not quite happening for us at the moment. If we had managed to score first in the Villa game then it would give us such a huge lift in confidence and have had an effect on the away team as well.

'I'm not a massive believer in stats, but we haven’t created enough chances and it is something we are working on. We believe in the team we have got.

'There is real quality in that dressing room to turn this around.'

Shay Given gutted at Aston Villa axe

Veteran keeper Given admits to feeling 'gutted' at being axed by Villa boss Lambert

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UPDATED:

08:42 GMT, 17 October 2012

Gutted: Given (left) with Lambert after the Capital One Cup win at Man City

Gutted: Given (left) with Lambert after the Capital One Cup win at Man City

Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given has admitted to feeling gutted at losing his starting place to Brad Guzan.

The 36-year-old Irishman retired from international football after Euro 2012 to focus on his club career but he was dropped after just the second game of the season – a 3-1 home defeat to Everton.

American international Guzan has impressed in the last five league games despite Villa's struggles and a frustrated Given has had to make do with a single Capital One Cup appearance.

'I am gutted that I am not playing in the team, that’s natural,' the former Newcastle and Manchester City No 1 admitted.

'Hopefully if I work hard I’ll get back in the team. He (Lambert) is not scared to leave people out, including me.

'Frustration can sometimes boil over if you’re not playing. But for me it’s important that I keep my head down and work hard every day.'

Villa boss Paul Lambert has also dropped 24million striker Darren Bent in recent weeks and Given revealed that the England international has also been frustrated at getting the chop.

Dropped: Bent has come off the bench in Villa's last two games

Dropped: Bent has come off the bench in Villa's last two games

'Darren is frustrated not to be playing also but that shows he cares and he wants to be in the team,' he added.

'When players are left out it is a bigger worry for me if that they are happy with being left out.'

Aston Villa 2 Swansea 0: Matthew Lowton and Christian Benteke strike

Aston Villa 2 Swansea 0: Lowton and Benteke lift hosts to first win of the season

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UPDATED:

16:47 GMT, 15 September 2012

Goals from newcomers Matthew Lowton and Christian Benteke earned Aston Villa their first Barclays Premier League win under Paul Lambert – and ended Swansea's unbeaten start to the campaign.

Right-back Lowton broke the deadlock with a 20-yard first-half volley and substitute Benteke wrapped up the points with two minutes left.

It was another encouraging performance from a new-look Villa side being assembled by Lambert after their 1-1 draw at Newcastle.

Opening salvo: Matthew Lowton gave Villa an early lead

Opening salvo: Matthew Lowton gave Villa an early lead

MATCH FACTS

ASTON VILLA: Guzan, Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Lichaj, Holman (N'Zogbia 78), El Ahmadi, Ireland (Westwood 69), Bannan, Weimann (Benteke 70), Bent. Unused subs: Given, Agbonlahor, Bowery, Bennett.

Goals: Lowton 16

Booked: Lowton, Clark, Lichaj

SWANSEA: Vorm, Rangel, Tate, Williams, Davies, Britton (Shechter 78), De Guzman, Michu, Dyer, Routledge (Hernandez 56), Graham (Moore 70). Unused subs: Tremmel, Sung-Yeung, Agustein, Richards.

Booked: Michu

Referee: Lee Mason

Att: 34,005

Lambert had promised to entertain and
this Villa side look more likely to create opportunities than the dour
football served up under former manager Alex McLeish.

Another newcomer in winger Brett
Holman caused problems but of equal encouragement was the solid look
about the back four in which keeper Brad Guzan and centre-back Ciaran
Clark were outstanding.

After a promising start, the Swans
seldom looked like adding to the 10 goals netted in their opening three
games despite the promptings of Jonathan De Guzman in midfield.

Villa started on the offensive and a shot on the turn from Andreas Weimann was blocked by Alan Tate.

But Swansea were soon into their stride and Clark produced two fine tackles to halt runs from Danny Graham and Nathan Dyer.

Mobbed: Villa players congratulate Lowton after giving them an 16th-minute lead

Mobbed: Villa players congratulate Lowton after giving them an 16th-minute lead

It needed two superb reflex saves in
the space of 60 seconds from Guzan, again preferred to Shay Given, to
prevent Swansea from breaking the deadlock.

First the United States
international reacted quickly to turn over a powerful close-range header
by Ashley Williams from a De Guzman corner.

Then Guzan went full length to finger-tip a dipping 20-yard drive from Dyer over the bar.

Villa retaliated and a superb strike from Lowton put them in front after 16 minutes.

Ben Davies was forced to concede a
corner after a good move involving Holman, Stephen Ireland and Darren
Bent. Barry Bannan's resulting cross was headed out by Williams but
Lowton brought the ball under control and volleyed an unstoppable shot
past Michel Vorm from just inside the area.

Clark became the first player to be yellow-carded after lunging in at Swansea defender Angel Rangel.

Lowton and Miguel Michu were also
cautioned for fouls on Ben Davies and Eric Lichaj respectively. Vorm
reacted sharply to turn aside a first time attempt from Andreas Weimann
after being set up by Bent.

But on the stroke of half-time
Graham failed to make contact with a low cross from Dyer with the goal
at his mercy after a late run into the danger area.

Swansea were having problems coping
with set pieces and a Bannan corner at the start of the second period
found its way to Clark at the far post and his shot struck the legs of
Vorm.

Leon Britton then headed a Weimann shot on the turn off the line after the visitors failed to deal with another Bannan centre.

Lambert was increasingly animated on
the touch-line reminiscent of the manager he calls 'gaffer' in former
Villa boss Martin O'Neill. Villa's 7million transfer deadline day
signing,

Eyes on the prize: Villa's Karim El Ahmadi (left) and Swansea's Michu (right) battle for the ball

Eyes on the prize: Villa's Karim El Ahmadi (left) and Swansea's Michu (right) battle for the ball

Benteke, came on for Weimann and
instantly had a shot deflected wide. Bannan's corner again troubled the
Swans with Clark's header tipped over by Vorm.

Villa ended on top and Karim El Ahmadi was denied by Vorm before Benteke wrapped up the points.

On it's way: Lowton thumps home the first goal

On it's way: Lowton thumps home the first goal

Late show: Christian Benteke celebrates scoring his side's second goal two minutes from time

Late show: Christian Benteke celebrates scoring his side's second goal two minutes from time

Williams headed back pass fell short
of Vorm and Benteke nipped in to lob the ball over the keeper before
applying the finishing touch.

No way through: Lowton (right) tangles with Wayne Routledge

No way through: Lowton (right) tangles with Wayne Routledge

Swans dive: Ashley Westwood (right) ghosts past Swansea's Pablo (left)

Swans dive: Ashley Westwood (right) ghosts past Swansea's Pablo (left)

Paul Lambert starting to get grip of Aston Villa

Lambert starting to get a grip of Aston Villa after point at Newcastle

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 2 September 2012

Opener: Lambert salutes Clark's goal

Opener: Lambert salutes Clark's goal

January 21: the last time Aston Villa won away in the Barclays Premier League.

March 10: the last time Aston Villa won a Premier League game anywhere.

It is scarcely a wonder then that Villa avoided relegation by two points in May. Nor that they went to the North East bottom of the early table with speculation mounting after just two league games that this season relegation could be for real.

They left still not having won a Premier League game since Andreas Weimann scrambled a 90th-minute effort against Fulham. But Villa on Sunday looked like a team. Considering what has gone before, over years rather than months, Paul Lambert would take that. Villa deserved their point.

As Alan Pardew said: ‘My God, they worked hard today. I don’t think we’ll see many teams work as hard.’

It is the ultimate compliment for a manager in Lambert’s situation. The Glaswegian does not ‘do’ delighted in a skippy way, but understandably he was full of praise for his players.

In turn the small band of fans who travelled from Birmingham will be delighted with their manager. Lambert made some big calls – not least dropping Shay Given for Brad Guzan – but they paid off. Guzan made a flying save five minutes into added time at the Gallowgate End of which Given would have been proud.

Top performance: Guzan (centre) impressed in goal for Villa

Top performance: Guzan (centre) impressed in goal for Villa

It was a decision that may become an emblem of claret change. One of those away games post-January was here in February. No fewer than eight of the Villa starting XI then did not start on Sunday. There were five changes from the side who lost to Everton last week. But it all gave Villa a change of gear.

Having driven Norwich from League One to the Premier League in two seasons, Lambert spoke with disdain beforehand about players who think money is an indication of success. The word, the mantra, Lambert wants to instil at Villa is ‘hunger’. It took a while, but once the visitors settled that is what Lambert got.

In the eighth minute alone, he saw Ron Vlaar, Brett Holman and Karim El Ahmadi gain possession only to pass the ball directly to a black and white shirt. Lambert turned to the away dugout and swore loudly. It was not for the last time. Vlaar clearly sees himself as a ball-playing centre half, a concept Lambert may seek to persuade him to review.

Earful: Vlaar felt Lambert's wrath after giving the ball away

Earful: Vlaar felt Lambert's wrath after giving the ball away

Vlaar continued to get an earful, but Lambert had much else to console him. His team were displaying the required hunger and the surprise for many was that Stephen Ireland was leading the hounds in midfield. Ireland had a few games at Newcastle on loan two seasons ago and the reception he was given did not reflect affection. He was invigorated rather than bothered by this, though, and along with Holman and El Ahmadi began to harass Jonas Gutierrez and Yohan Cabaye. Suddenly Aston Villa were winning 50-50s. It is an under-rated quality.

Ireland also reminded everyone he can pass the ball with the fluency of a natural. ‘They played well technically,’ added Pardew.

Ireland knitted and shaped it all, Darren Bent outjumped defenders and Matthew Lowton, signed from League One Sheffield United, was at ease as a Premier League right back. Ciaran Clark’s headed goal was Villa’s first away since April and honest reward for the collective effort.

There were still brittle moments – Holman failed to close down Hatem Ben Arfa on the stunning equaliser – but this felt like a day when Lambert got a grip on Villa.

Newcastle 1 Aston Villa 1: match report:

Newcastle 1 Aston Villa 1: Ben Arfa wonder goal rescues point for Toon

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UPDATED:

17:06 GMT, 2 September 2012

Hatem Ben Arfa got Newcastle out of jail with a stunning equaliser as Aston Villa saw victory snatched from their grasp.

The France international blasted an unstoppable long-range shot past keeper Brad Guzan with 59 minutes gone to cancel out Ciaran Clark's first-half opener on a day when the Magpies were all at sea for long periods.

Villa more than made a game of it with Tim Krul having to produce good saves to deny Darren Bent and Andreas Weimann, although Guzan hacked a 29th-minute Papiss Cisse shot off the line and claw out Yohan Cabaye's injury-time free-kick in an eventful contest.

Wonder goal: Hatem Ben Arfa levels for Newcastle with a brilliant strike from the edge of the area

Wonder goal: Hatem Ben Arfa levels for Newcastle with a brilliant strike from the edge of the area

MATCH FACTS:

Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Santon, Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Anita, Gutierrez, Ba, Cisse.

Subs: Harper, Williamson, Gosling, Amalfitano, Bigirimana, Marveaux, Obertan.

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Lichaj, Bannan, El Ahmadi, Ireland, Weimann, Holman, Bent.

Subs: Given, N'Zogbia, Agbonlahor, Bowery, Baker, Burke, Williams.

Referee: Lee Probert

But Newcastle were at times a shadow of the side which mixed it with the Barclays Premier League's big boys last season, much to the frustration of a crowd of 48,245.

Stephen Ireland and Darren Bent both might have won it at the death for the visitors, but the visitors eventually had to settle for a draw.
Villa arrived sitting at the foot of the table without a point from their first two games and with former Newcastle stalwart Shay Given relegated to a seat on the bench as a result.

But if the Magpies thought the visitors were there for the taking, the belief proved horribly mistaken during the opening 45 minutes.

Paul Lambert's men were up for the fight from the off and although Karim El Ahmadi in particular was perhaps a little over-zealous at times, they knocked the hosts out of their stride.
It was a strangely disjointed performance from Newcastle, who continue to miss Cheick Tiote's influence in the middle of the park.

The service from wide-men Ben Arfa and Jonas Gutierrez was decidedly sub-standard, and with front two Cisse and Demba Ba misfiring, Given's replacement Guzan was rarely extended with last season's swagger having seemingly deserted Pardew's team.

Cool as you like: Ben Arfa celebrates his goal

Cool as you like: Ben Arfa celebrates his goal

Sunderland old boy Bent served warning of Villa's intent with 19 minutes gone when he forced Krul into save, with Fabricio Coloccini blocking Weimann's follow-up, and the keeper had to deny Bent again seconds later.

Steven Taylor bundled a Cabaye free-kick over the bar as the Magpies attempted to respond, but the home side were almost level with 29 minutes gone.

Ben Arfa's right-wing corner was overhit, but Ba managed to pluck it out of the air and drill the ball back across goal, where Cisse's shot seemed destined for the back of the net before Guzan somehow managed to keep it out with his foot.

Midfielder Vurnon Anita fired into the side-netting after Gutierrez had recycled the resulting corner to him on the edge of the box, but the Dutchman found himself having to change roles eight minutes later as Newcastle's decision not to sign a defender during the transfer widow returned to haunt them.

Going ahead: Ciaran Clark scores for Villa

Going ahead: Ciaran Clark scores for Villa

Jumping for joy: Andreas Weimann celebrates with Clark

Jumping for joy: Andreas Weimann celebrates with Clark

Danny Simpson went down clutching his hamstring and with Ryan Taylor and James Perch already injured, Anita had to drop in at full-back.

Ba fired across goal seconds later as the Magpies finished the half strongly, but without troubling Guzan to any great extent.

Villa returned not only determined to hang on to their advantage, but to extend it if at all possible, and as the Magpies continued to labour, they looked the more likely to score.

As the home fans grew increasingly
restless, Newcastle responded and Ben Arfa might have done better when
he headed Anita's 52-minute cross straight at Guzan.

Pardew had switched to a 4-3-3
formation before the break in an attempt to get Ben Arfa further
forward, and the ploy eventually paid off with 59 minutes gone.

The Frenchman picked up possession on
the left and cut inside before unleashing a searing drive which flew
high past Guzan and into the top corner.

In the meantime, Krul had to pluck
Ireland's well-struck shot out of the air and then had to get down well
to deny Weimann with Villa still very much in the game.

Battle ball: Ben Arfa wins the ball from Karim El Ahmadi

Battle ball: Ben Arfa wins the ball from Karim El Ahmadi

Going wide: Fabicio Coloccini fires his shot off target

Going wide: Fabicio Coloccini fires his shot off target

Ben Arfa had a chance to fire the Magpies ahead with 23 minutes remaining, but curled his free-kick harmlessly over the bar.

Ba went close with a looping header
from substitute Gael Bigirimana's 74th-minute cross, but Ireland passed
up a glorious opportunity to win it six minutes later when he screwed
his shot wide from 16 yards.

Bent was handed a similarly promising
opening with six minutes left, but Bigirimana's timely intervention
kept him at bay before Guzan palmed out Cabaye's last-ditch attempt.

Full speed: Yohan Cabaye and Aston Villa's Brett Holman battle for the ball

Full speed: Yohan Cabaye and Aston Villa's Brett Holman battle for the ball

Emile Heskey set for Aston Villa exit

Villa look to clear out Heskey, Cuellar, Beye and Collins in the summer


On the move: Emile Heskey

On the move: Emile Heskey

Emile Heskey will head a list of players leaving Aston Villa this summer after costing the club nearly 1million a goal.

Villa owner Randy Lerner is keen to save 10m from the wage bill by selling overpaid and underused players signed by Martin O'Neill.

Former England international Heskey, 34, will be sold along with Carlos Cuellar, Habib Beye and James Collins, while goalkeeper Brad Guzan is out of contract in the summer and may choose to leave on a free.

Shay Given set for Aston Villa return against Everton

Villa Given Shay boost as crocked keeper eyes comeback against Everton

Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given is close to returning after being sidelined for a month with a hamstring injury.

Return: Shay Given is nearing full fitness

Return: Shay Given is nearing full fitness

Villa boss Alex McLeish confirmed the Republic of Ireland international could be back in contention for the home Barclays Premier League clash with Everton on January 14.

McLeish said: 'Shay is not far away and feels he could be ready pretty soon.

'He was champing at the bit over the festive period because he wanted to be involved.

'He could have a chance of being ready for the Everton game.'

Given has impressed since his summer move from Manchester City on a five-year contract.

Brad Guzan has deputised for the 35-year-old in his absence.

Shay Given out for a month Aston Villa

Villa suffer blow as keeper Given faces spending festive period on the sidelines

Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given will be sidelined for a month after suffering a hamstring injury against Manchester United on Saturday.

Scans showed the 35-year-old Republic of Ireland international had suffered a small tear in his left hamstring during the 1-0 home defeat against the Red Devils.

American Brad Guzan, who replaced Given seven minutes before the break on Saturday, will continue to deputise between the posts in this weekend”s Barclays Premier League game at Bolton.

Sidelined: Shay Given will miss a month of the season through injury

Sidelined: Shay Given will miss a month of the season through injury

Villa manager Alex McLeish said: “It is disappointing to lose Shay in such circumstances but, unfortunately, these things happen in football.

“We have to meet these challenges and we will. We have total faith in Brad who, as I said after the game against Manchester United on Saturday, can be proud of the way he stepped in when Shay had to come off.

“We will need within the football club for everybody to stick together and that strength of unity will help massively.”