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Previewing the Unpreviewable: Wolves vs. Newcastle United

Newcastle are slated to take on a very solid Wolves team as they look to make up ground they lost during the festive period

Rochdale AFC v Newcastle United - FA Cup - Third Round - Crown Oil Arena
Sean is actually going to have to play well in order for newcastle to win
Photo by Dave Howarth/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

In a return to Premier League action Newcastle will be traveling this weekend to Wolverhampton to face the Wolverhampton Wolves Wanderers a team who are currently in 7th, knocking on the door of a European place. Meanwhile, Newcastle sit in 13th, 5 points behind Wolves and 5 points above the relegation zone.

Recent Form

Both teams are looking to get things back on track after a sub-par last couple of weeks for both teams. Newcastle are coming off a string of losses and a disappointing draw against League 1 side Rochdale . Wolves drew with Manchester United after back to back losses against Watford and Liverpool.

The last 5 results for each club are below


Wolves 0-0 Manchester United

Watford 2-1 Wolves

Liverpool 1-0 Wolves

Wolves 3-2 Manchester City

Norwich 1-2 Wolves

Newcastle (DLLLW)

Rochdale 1-1 Newcastle

Newcastle 0-3 Leicester

Newcastle 1-2 Everton

Manchester United 4-1 Newcastle

Newcastle 1-0 Crystal Palace

What do Newcastle have to do to win?

Newcastle are playing one of the most lethal attacks in the Premier League. Led by players such as Raul Jimenez, Adama Traore and Pedro Neto Wolves have been a solid attacking side in the Premier League this season, creating 30 goals thus far. This front 3 has been helped tremendously by a solid midfield led by their leader in assists João Moutinho and the always solid Ruben Neves.

As a unit Newcastle will have to be disciplined in defense, something they have struggled with since the beginning of the festive period. A lot of Newcastle's losses can be traced to individual mistakes by players along the back line, something that must be fixed moving forward.

Newcastle United v Everton FC - Premier League
Defensive mistakes have cost Newcastle plenty of points in recent matches with Florian Lejeune
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Additionally, players are not sticking to their defined roles. In the Manchester United game Newcastle struggled largely because their midfield pairing of the Longstaff brothers did not stick to their roles defensively and allowed the midfield to be completely run over. In other matches this season our center backs have surged forward trying to create chances leaving our back line vulnerable. This was the case in the Leicester match before all o the injuries began to pile up. It then reared its ugly head in the second half of the Rochdale match when Newcastle became frustrated with their lack of chances against an inferior side.

What has led to success for Newcastle this season has been their willingness to ignore these urges of playing out of position, or ignore the need to surge forward, or to simply be attentive enough to not commit simple errors. If Newcastle can get back to their disciplined ways that were instilled by Rafa and led to a brilliant run of form this season, they may have a shot in this match.

If Newcastle continue to remain undisciplined this match-up could end horribly.

Players to watch

The hot man for Wolves right now is Adama Traore. The winger has been one of the most in form players in the Premier League the past couple of weeks. Not only is he exciting to watch (110 completed dribbles thus far), but he combines speed and strength with good finishing ability to truly be a danger to anyone he faces.

With teams typically putting their focus on Wolverhampton’s leading goalscorer Traore has been able to put himself into dangerous positions and create a plethora of chances for his teammates over the past few weeks. So far this season he has created 22 chances for his teammates which puts him in the top ten for the Premier League this season for clubs outside of the top 6. Traore’s play has found him linked to clubs like Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester United - FA Cup Third Round
This tank of a human being is going to be a handful for Newcastle.
Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

For Newcastle the focus will be on Florian Lejeune. When healthy and in form Florian is one of the best defenders in the Premier League. Unfortunately for Newcastle Lejeune has been neither this season.

After finally recovering from a serious knee injury, Lejeune was rushed back into the first team without in time to work himself back up to match speed. Due to injury Lejeune started 4 matches in a row without rest, and in each game he looked worse and worse. Steve Bruce admitted before the Rochdale match that Lejeune playing so many matches in a row without rest is one of the reasons for his dip in form.

The hope is that after having rest, and being able to mentally hit the reset button, Lejeune return to his former glory.

Injuries... of which there are many

Newcastle were handed a massive injury boost when Steve Bruce announced that Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett, Miguel Almiron, Jetro Willems and Dwight Gayle are all fit enough to play this weekend.

Ki and Muto have picked up knocks, and the center back duo of Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schar are both too injured to travel. Newcastle fullback Javi Manquillo is nursing a hamstring injury, and DeAndre Yedlin is also dealing with an injury. Although close to fit, Allan Saint-Maximin and Jonjo Shelvey have been training but are not healthy enough to make an appearance this weekend.

Newcastle United Training Session
St. Gucci Max has been in training but is not expected to play
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

For Wolves Diogo Jota is still suffering from the thigh injury he picked up against Watford. Meritan Shabani and Willy Bolly both have not recovered from their ankle injuries. Morgan Gibbs-White has been seen in training but will not be making an appearance this weekend.

One Bold Prediction

There will be a penalty awarded during this match.

Newcastle and wolves have had some controversial matches of recent with last year’s matches ending with controversial missed fouls.

These matches have been very physical, and I expect this one to be the same. The introduction of VAR to the Premier league combined with the physicality displayed between the two teams when they meet up seem like the perfect storm for a penalty decision to be awarded.

Knowing the luck of Newcastle, Wolves will be the one scoring from the penalty.

One Not So Bold Prediction

Christian Atsu will almost score.

Christian Atsu almost scores every single time he steps on a pitch and we should expect more of the same. I think he will hit the post this match after being given the opportunity for a 1v1 with the keeper in the 80th minute.

The Elijah Newsome Clout Rating

If you missed the explanation for this revolutionary system an explanation can be found here. If you don’t want to read more than 3 sentences about the word “clout”, just know my Clout rating is a rating based on a club’s swag, influence and relevance.

Wolves have one of the most boring home kits in the Premier League, an irrelevant town and seem to be confused about whether or not the want to be called Wolverhampton, Wolves or the Wanderers.

Despite that, they are one of the most enjoyable teams to watch due to their influx of Portuguese talent.

The team literally does not care they are in the prem, as it seems the sole purpose for this club is to provide Portuguese talent with an opportunity to look super cool in front of the world.

Wolves have a ridiculous stat that displays how much they don’t care that the purpose of the Premier League is to help bolster and develop British talent. The stat is honestly so wild that I am going to give it its own line AND italicize it

Wolverhampton’s last 49 goals have been scored by non-English players.

That is wild when you consider that most British teams have a decent amount of British players because it is ya know... a British league. Wolves have British players for sue, they are all just on the bench and don’t play because they. do. not. care.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester United - FA Cup Third Round
this guy neves might be good
Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Another badass thing about Wolves is that they have built this Portuguese death lineuup like some sort of 1920’s crime organization during the prohibition era. It is super shady, but at the end of the day nobody really cares that it is shady.

The timeline for this transformation is wild.

Summer 2016- Wolves are taken over by Chinese investment group Fosun International

Also Summer 2016 - Wolves hire Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes as an agent for the club to help with recruitment.

Also Also Summer 2016 - Mendes signs 12 players, many of which were his clients. 4 of them were hot Portuguese prospects and 3 of them were from the Portuguese league.

That’s it, that's the timeline. Wolves built a damn near super team over the next few seasons by just signing Mendes’ players not named Christiano Ronaldo.

Wolves would get the hottest Portuguese talents like Ruben Neves or Pedro Neto over “bigger clubs” like Man City, Juventus, or Arsenal who were believed to be interested in these players.

Another positive for Wolves is that Adama Traore is awesome and really fun to watch.

All of these factors contribute to Wolves having a much higher clout rating than Rochdale (obviously) and a much higher clout rating than expected.

Clout Rating - 4 Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwiches

Projected Lineups

Newcastle have a ton of players coming back from injury, but I doubt all of them start. If Steve Bruce were smart he would not rush back certain guys like Jetro Willems or Paul Dummett who are dealing with muscle injuries and opt to play other guys who have had a little more time to come back or are coming back from minor knocks.

That being said guys like Ritchie and Lejeune will likely start instead regardless of whether we fans think they should. Ritchie back in the side is sure to provide a boost to the energy of the squad

I believe Bruce will play both Miggy and Joelinton in a formation that has Joelinton out wide because that is the position he has looked the best this season. Andy Carrol gets the start up top for me. The only way Andy does not start is if Bruce plans on starting him against Rochdale.

Newcastle will likely roll out with their 5-4-1 which should match up well agaisnt Wolverhampton’s 3-4-3.

Wolverhampton Projected Lineup (3-4-3) Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny; Neto, Traore, Jimenez.

Newcastle Projected Lineup (5-4-1): Dubravka; Krafth, Clark, Fernandez, Lejeune, Ritchie; Hayden, Longstaff; ,Almiron; Joelinton; Carrol.

One Random Fact to Say at the Bar

Wolves have won just two of their last 11 league matches against Newcastle (W2 D6 L3),both victories were at St. James’. Additionally Newcastle are unbeaten in their last 5 league matches at the Molineux

Elijah’s Never Wrong Prediction

Simple logic would place this as a loss for Newcastle. The team has struggled, Wolves are a good team, and Newcastle are beat up

However, history has somewhat been on the side of Newcastle when they play Wolves and they somehow have gotten lucky enough to not really lose against this team.

I think Newcastle can sneak away with a 1-1 draw courtesy of a set piece goal and some solid defending.

Match Facts and Where to Watch

Date: Saturday, 11 January 2020

Kick-off: 10:00 AM EST 3:00 PM GMT

Venue: Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton, West Midlands

TV Coverage: NBC Sports Gold (USA)

Referee: Peter Bankes