MIND your backs Geordies, a well-oiled straggler is coming to gatecrash the Champions League party.
Aston Villa’s owners were mocked from all corners after claiming the Clarets SHOULD be mixing it with Europe’s best when they took over the fallen giants in the Championship in 2018.
Ollie Watkins put on a masterclass performance as Villa stuffed Newcastle
The England striker had one chalked off for offside before grabbing two goals
Well, nobody’s laughing now after routing Newcastle like nobody else has managed to.
Unai Emery would have been forgiven for wondering what on earth he was thinking when he turned down the Toon job last year.
Yet the Spaniard with the magic touch will now back his rampant Villans to chase the Magpies down after claiming a fifth straight win for the first time since 1998.
Clarets fans are dreaming big, and given they’re now just six points behind the Magpies in third, who can blame them?
It’s nothing short of a miracle what Emery has achieved since replacing Steven Gerrard last October.
From front to back they battered Newcastle, bursting the Saudi bubble as the Emery revolution went into overdrive.
To the surprise of nobody, it was that man Ollie Watkins running riot again, terrorising Newcastle from start to finish and ending with a brace and an assist in front of England boss Gareth Southgate.
The striker set up Jacob Ramsey for the opener after 11 minutes before scoring a second-half double to make it an incredible ten goals from his last 12.
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Emery replaced crocked Leon Bailey with Leon Dendoncker while Eddie Howe started Anthony Gordon for just his second Prem game, in place of Sean Longstaff, having reacted furiously at Howe to being subbed at Brentford last weekend.
The Magpies made a hopeless start against the Bees, and it was more of the same in Birmingham as they succumbed to their worst defeat of the campaign.
Villa came out swinging, knowing victory would put them bang in the top-four race.
Watkins was in on goal just 25 seconds in, flicking it beyond Nick Pope but off the post.
The red-hot forward was giving centre-backs Sven Botman and Fabian Schar a torrid time, and his brilliant nod down set Ramsey up in the 11th minute.
John McGinn deep cross from the right was too loopy to try and score so instead he leapt high and cushioned backwards for Ramsey to drill home first time.
Toon were on the ropes and in serious danger of being blown away by the rampant Villans.
Newcastle have the tightest defence in the league but couldn’t deal with the good old hoof over the top to Watkins.
He was denied by Pope moments after the opener, with Ramsey then firing Alex Moreno’s cut-back off the bar.
Newcastle regrouped slightly and squandered a couple of half-chances but Howe would have been delighted and surprised to get in at the break just one down following a chastening 45 minutes.
Howe’s side have rarely been outplayed like that so it was a big call from the Toon boss not to make any changes at the break.
Just three minutes after the restart though they were kept in it by Pope again, saving Watkins’ low drive.
Jacob Murphy flashed wide at the other end – the closest the visitors had come.
Yet Howe had had enough 55 minutes in, hooking Murphy and the anonymous Gordon for Miguel Almiron and Callum Wilson.
Watkins, left, headed down for Jacob Ramsey to open the scoring
Ramsey took in the jubilation of the Holte End
The Tynesiders finally came to life now with Alexander Isak forcing Emi Martinez into a flying stop.
But, just like that, Watkins buried Alex Moreno’s through ball to send Villa Park wild – only for VAR to intervene and rule the striker millimetres offside.
It’s impossible to keep Watkins down right now however and he had his goal all of three minutes later.
Another expert finish, he controlled Moreno’s low cross with his back to goal before swivelling and slotting home through Dan Burn’s legs.
And he got his second in the 83rd minute following great work from McGinn down the right.
The Scot passed to Buendia inside the box and his ball was air-kicked by Ramsey – only for Watkins to finish under Pope.
Watkins hit the post inside the first 30 seconds of the match
Gareth Southgate was in the crowd at Villa Park
It was a tough day at the office for Toon boss Eddie Howe
Here’s how the action unfolded at Villa Park…