Newcastle look for reinforcements after firing blanks at Aston Villa

There was not a moment’s hesitation from Alan Pardew when he was asked whether he would happily take another striker before the end of the transfer window, and it was easy to see why after his team fired blanks for a second successive game. “I would accept any player coming into my group,” the Newcastle manager said.

More than half of Newcastle’s Premier League goals last season were scored by Loïc Rémy and Yohan Cabaye, neither of whom are still at the club. The big question is whether Pardew has the players at his disposal to bridge that significant shortfall or if the new recruits need a helping hand. These are early days – 180 minutes of football is too early to cast judgment – but Pardew needed no telling that Newcastle must cut loose when they host struggling Crystal Palace on Saturday or the doubts will grow.

Although Newcastle were the better team here and deserved three points after controlling the second half, Emmanuel Rivière, the former Monaco striker and the man charged with leading the line, endured another quiet afternoon – “He’s had two games and hardly had a chance, but I do feel he is going to score goals”, Pardew said – while Rémy Cabella and Ayoze Pérez squandered decent opportunities.

Siem De Jong, the former Ajax player, at least forced a save from Brad Guzan late on, a couple of minutes before Mike Williamson was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

While Pardew remains convinced there are goals in his team, first impressions are that Newcastle are light up front and would benefit from some Premier League experience in that department. “We’re looking at situations that might help us,” the Newcastle manager said.

“We feel that we’ve done good business. But I think the recent activity on the striker front in particular has shown that the market is very, very difficult. [Jordan] Rhodes’s price looks heavy. If we could have some realism around [British] strikers, maybe they would get some more opportunities.”

Aston Villa have their own shortcomings in attack at the moment – they failed to register a shot on target here – but Christian Benteke’s return from a ruptured achilles tendon, probably after next month’s international break, will give them some physical presence and a cutting edge.

At the other end of the pitch Villa are older and wiser, with Alan Hutton, Philippe Senderos, Ron Vlaar and Aly Cissokho forming a new-look back four that has yet to concede this season. Hutton and Cissokho, the two full-backs, were particularly impressive against Newcastle.

“We’re a bit of a different team,” Guzan said. “On another day we could have nicked a goal and got the three points. No disrespect to the guys who were in before but we are benefiting from having a bit of experience in there. We are harder to beat, which is starting to shine through.”

Man of the match Alan Hutton (Aston Villa)

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