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Jan 23, 2021 at 8pm UK
Aston VillaAston Villa
2-0
NewcastleNewcastle United
Watkins (13'), Traore (42')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Schar (26'), Carroll (54'), Lascelles (57')
/esi/1339/6_G_1_120466/index.html?art_id=431881&game_id=120466&sport_id=1&ESI

Steve Bruce "convinced" Newcastle will turn their fortunes around

:Headline: Steve Bruce 'convinced' Newcastle will turn their fortunes around:
The Magpies have scored only once in eight games and fans protested at St James' Park on Saturday night.
Sports Mole

Steve Bruce tried to find some positives as he once more faced questions about his future as Newcastle manager following another lacklustre defeat against Aston Villa.

Fans protested outside St James' Park demanding Bruce be sacked as his side slipped to a 2-0 loss on Saturday night.

It was not quite the meek surrender at Sheffield United recently but in a continuation of recent performances, Newcastle offered little as an attacking force – lacking imagination and intent in the final third of the pitch.

Newcastle are winless in their last eight Premier League games (Gareth Copley/PA)

The Magpies have scored only one goal in the last eight matches and have lost six of their last eight Premier League games, including the last four in a row.

Told about the protests back in Newcastle, Bruce could only offer "I'm disappointed to hear that" as a reply, before going on to attempt to defend his team's recent form.

"We've been on a really difficult run, there's no doubting that. But we are not alone in that, it's just our turn.

"When you're in the bottom half of the Premier League, you are always looking over your shoulder and what you need to erase it all is to win a couple of games.

"That little bit of confidence comes with a win and the sooner we get it the better.

"I know this group of players are capable, we've done it before. We've had a particularly tough time in terms of illness and injuries and let's hope we can stay fit and healthy because if we can do that then I'm convinced we will be OK."

Allan Saint-Maximin made his return at Villa Park following an eight-week lay-off due to coronavirus.

Allan Saint-Maximin, right, returned to action after an eight-week lay-off (Gareth Copley/PA)

Bruce said: "That encourages me. It encouraged me was to see Ryan (Fraser) and Allan on the pitch at the same time. I think it's the first time this season that has happened. That will certainly help us going forward."

Ollie Watkins ended his goal drought by opening the scoring and setting Villa on the way to victory.

The club-record signing scored for the first time in 10 matches before Bertrand Traore doubled the lead before half-time with his fourth goal in six games.

Watkins had netted six times in his first seven Premier League matches before a frustrating period without a goal but Villa boss Dean Smith never had any doubts the striker would rediscover his scoring touch.

"The way Ollie works, in training and in games, he endears himself to the rest of the team," said Smith.

"With the quality he has got, he is always going to score goals. He has just been through a patch where he has hit the crossbar, hit the post and the goalkeeper has made really good saves.

"But we have not doubted his quality and his performances. The goal was always going to come."

Jack Grealish was substituted late on in the win and Smith, who watched from the stands as he served a one-match touchline ban, revealed the captain had been nursing a tight hamstring during the week.

The Villa boss added: "Jack didn't do an awful lot in training. He wasn't happy I brought him off with five minutes to go but it was game over. He was on four yellows as well and there is always the risk of him getting kicked."

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1Manchester CityMan City26195252163662
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd25147453322149
3Leicester CityLeicester26154745301549
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1Norwich CityNorwich33217547252270
2Brentford33189661352663
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4Swansea CitySwansea31178639221759
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11Bristol City33143163544-945
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14Luton TownLuton32118132737-1041
15Blackburn RoversBlackburn32117144638840
16Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest331010132832-440
17Queens Park RangersQPR311010113136-540
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