Wolves welcome Newcastle to Molineux on Monday night in the Premier League looking to solidify their spot in seventh place and prove to be the best ever promoted side in the division's history.
Molineux, Wolverhampton, England
Key Stat: Newcastle have just two wins away from home in the PL this season, and both of them have been against fellow relegation contenders.
Expert Verdict: Newcastle have generally looked much better recently, and while that is to be an uplifter for sure, they will now be heading back out on the road where they haven't looked as bright. Wolves are surging right now. They're going for it in the FA Cup and they are playing extremely well for a newly promoted team. While they have shown the propensity to be inconsistent from time to time, this is a great chance for them to underline their credentials as the best of the rest.
Nuno Espirito Santo is being aided at the moment by a team is fully fit, so that is a major boost. Look for some rotation to take place after he changed the side around in midweek to see off Shrewsbury… finally.
Diogo Jota hasn’t been the most consistent of Prem stars this term, but the Portuguese attacker is still a man to watch on his day. He’s been really kicking into form recently as well with those three goals aiding the win over Leicester. He scored in the reverse fixture, so the Magpies should take notice. The reason he’s been so good of late has been due to Raul Jimenez. The Mexican has scored nine times, but it’s his selfless play that has linked defence to attack and provided Jota a platform to play from. He also has five assists to demonstrate his effectiveness as a truly modern striker.
Wolves have four wins and a draw in their last five matches:
3-2 home win vs Shrewsbury Town (FA Cup)
1-3 win at Everton
3-0 home win vs West Ham
2-2 draw at Shrewsbury Town (FA Cup)
4-3 home win vs Leicester
Defenders:Bennett, Coady, Boly
Midfielders:Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Castro
Rafa Benitez has more to worry about in terms of personnel. The Spanish boss will be missing goalkeepers Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot and midfielder Jonjo Shelvey. However, there is good news. Midfielders Ki Sung-Yueng and Mo Diame and left back Paul Dummett are all back in training and could be fit enough to feature. New signing Miguel Almiron will also be available for selection.
No matter what role he is asked to play, and lately it has been left wing back, Matt Ritchie seems to thrive. The ‘winger’ has been great at delivering the ball into dangerous areas, and he will be of utmost importance as two five-man defences clash in this tie. Another to watch is Salomon Rondon. The Venezuelan doesn’t get the most chances to score usually, but he was lethal against the Citizens when he got his chance and that is what they’ll need yet again to overcome the hosts.
Newcastle have two losses and three wins in their last five matches:
1-0 loss at Tottenham
2-1 home win vs Manchester City
0-2 home loss vs Watford (FA Cup)
3-0 home win vs Cardiff
2-4 extra time win vs Blackburn (FA Cup)
Defenders:Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Lejuene, Ritchie
Midfielders:Perez, Longstaff, Hayden, Atsu
Wolves and Newcastle have played 70 times before, and they have been nearly inseparable so far. Newcastle, though, just about edge it with 28 wins, 15 draws, and 27 losses.
Here's a look at the last four results:
Dec 9, 2018: Newcastle 1-2 Wolves
Feb 11, 2017: Wolves 0-1 Newcastle (Championship)
Sep 20, 2016: Newcastle 2-0 Wolves (EFL Cup)
Sep 17, 2016: Newcastle 0-2 Wolves (Championship)
Bet365 have the following odds available for this match:
Wolves are at 8/11 to win, a draw is at 13/5, and a Newcastle win is at 15/4.
Wolves will enter the weekend and the match in control of the race for seventh place. They will have at least a one point edge over any number of teams for that spot, and they will have a chance to extend it with a victory at home to Newcastle. They have shown fine form of late, winning three times in a row in the league, and they have even progressed in the FA Cup despite a scare against Shrewsbury. It’s been quite the season already under Santo, and it’s not looking like stopping just yet. Newcastle, meanwhile, will begin the fixtures this week in 15th place on 24 points. However, they could possibly be in 18th place if results when the wrong way when this match kicks off. With that said, they have looked better recently with two wins in their last three PL matches, so they have some cheer about them currently. The final caveat, though, is that both of those wins were at home...
At home, Wolves have been fairly good so far. They’ve take 20 points from 13 matches. The only issue has been that they have lost five times at Molineux, so that has held them back a little. In the last two outings, they have won at their home ground, and they have three wins and nine points from their last five. Newcastle, on the other hand, are in 14th as it relates to away form. They have 11 points, via two wins and five draws, from 12 matches on the road. There biggest issue has been the lack of goals on their travels, with just nine going in so far. They have only one point from their last four away matches, showing this will be a struggle for them if they concede anything.
Ladbrokes have both teams scoring at 23/20.
Betfair have Jimenez scoring anytime at 2.37.
Wolves won’t be winning any major awards for finishing in seventh come season’s end, but they should be. It’s a heck of a job by all involved, and it’ll only come after results such as this one: a victory over a dogged and determined Newcastle.