Finally, it's back. Finally, there is a purpose to the weekend. And you know this, because I've written it many times, but everything else is pointless. Pre-season is pointless, women's football is pointless, internationals are pointless.
This, Aston Villa, is what it's all about. And this, a match with points on the line, is the game and why we are here.
And there is never a better time than the first game of the season. We have moments now where we believe everything are possible. When I was a kid, this is when you thought you could win the League.
You might have read my preview post and you will have possibly read others and if you take any of them with a pinch of salt, you might feel as optimistic as I do.
This isn't me getting carried away. This isn't about winning the League or silverware, it's about the opportunity and the direction we are heading and when you can believe it, it feels good.
Today, against another side that have a real opportunity (even if I am not convinced in their manager) gives us something to benchmark ourselves against. Win and we'll believe it's all possible, if only for a few minutes. We don't think about the other scenarios, but there are positive reasons to take from those too.
We're Aston Villa and it's a great time to be a fan. I'm looking forward to the match later and today, I'm full of beans.
Match facts from the BBC
- Aston Villa are aiming to secure consecutive Premier League wins over Newcastle for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign.
- However, the Geordies are unbeaten in their 14 Premier League home games versus Villa since that season.
- Newcastle have won 71 league matches against Villa, which is more than they have against any other opponent, while the Villans are level alongside Spurs as the opponents the Magpies beaten most often in the Premier League, claiming 24 victories.
- Newcastle's fourth-place finish last season was their best since 2002-03, while their points total of 71 was their highest in the Premier League since 2001-02.
- The Magpies lost five top-flight matches last season, a joint low with champions Manchester City.
- They have lost just four of their 33 home league matches under Eddie Howe, with those defeats coming against Liverpool (twice), Manchester City and Arsenal.
- Newcastle are aiming to win their opening league fixture in consecutive campaigns for the first time since the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.
- Callum Wilson has scored on the opening weekend in each of the last three seasons, and has netted 11 Premier League goals in the month of August since his competition debut in 2015 - only Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero, with 15 goals and 14 respectively, have better records in this period.
- Aston Villa's seventh-place finish last term was their highest in the Premier League since 2009-10, while they also equalled their club record for most wins in a 38-game Premier League campaign.
- Villa have earned 13 Premier League wins and 43 points in 2023, a figure bettered only by Manchester City. The Villans won 41 points in the whole of 2022.
- They were one of only four teams to win a league game against Newcastle last season.
- They are aiming to avoid losing their opening league fixture in three successive seasons for the first time since 1967-68 to 1969-70. All of those defeats came in the second tier.