The last time Newcastle played Aston Villa was February 20th 2017. We won 2-0, with the biggest cheer of the night coming when pantomime villain Henri Lansbury turned the ball into his own net.
The other goalscorer was slightly less popular, but still a key player during that Championship campaign. And his name was Yoan Gouffran.
The winger joined Newcastle in January 2013 as part of the French revolution, costing just £500,000 from Bordeaux. He spent four and a half years with the Magpies, and describing him as inconsistent would probably be an understatement.
As the years went by the more he frustrated supporters. And when Steve McClaren got the job at St James’ Park, Gouffran’s minutes severely diminished.
Despite Newcastle going down, losing his number to Matt Ritchie and rumours of a return to France, Gouffran stayed with Newcastle in the Championship. With the new number 20 on his back, he suddenly seemed like a player reborn.
He scored five times in the Championship, including a rocket volley against Derby County. His goal against Aston Villa was nothing to write home about, finding the net after a typical second tier goalmouth scramble. Regardless, he wheeled off to celebrate after setting Newcastle on their way to another key victory.
The Magpies went up as champions, while Aston Villa remained in the Championship. But nearly three years on, Villa are back in the top flight, and set to face Newcastle for the first time since that night in February 2017.
But where is Gouffran now? His contract expired at the end of the Championship season, and he headed to Turkey to play for Goztepe. Sadly, he managed just two goals in 53 appearances, and he is now a free agent at the age of 33.
It was a surprise to see Gouffran leave after such a strong season in the Championship, as Benitez knew he’d need all the help and experience he could get to stay up. But considering his poor form in Turkey and subsequent release, clearly we made the right call.