Newcastle get back to St James’ Park on Sunday after their trip to Manchester to play (and lose against) City and finally break out of the Mancunian Nightmare of the past two weeks in which the Magpies lost back-to-back games against the Sky Blues and the Reds.
The last time Newcastle faced Wolverhampton was on Aug. 28. That game ended in a 1-1 stalemate. Those were, also, the times when the Magpies were getting robbed by the refs on location and those watching from the VAR headquarters on a weekly basis. Whatever.
Wolves are doing something unique this season. The last time one of their forwards scored a goal you might have not even yet been born! Well, that’s stretching things a bit, but the truth is that the last goal scored by a forward in... yellow?... orange?... threads came all the way back on March 10. March 10, 2022, that is. Yes, more than one year to this very bright day, folks.
Julen Lopetegui might have helped Wolves escape the relegation places—don’t get too hyped yet, Wolverhampton fam—but the reality of the team is much harsher. And this is getting written by someone who supports Newcastle, which are definitely not the strongest goalscorer bunch of men out there doing it in the Premier League these days...
It was Wolves vs. Watford (yes, Watford) more than a calendar year ago when Raul Jimenez lastly scored a forward-goal for the men in... gold? threads. After 12 months and time split into two halves under the guidance of Bruno Lage then and Julen Lopetegui now, none of Jimenez, Matheus Cunha, Diego Costa, Hwang Hee-chan, Sasa Kalajdzic, Fabio Silva, and plenty more haven’t found paydirt. Sheesh...
Looking at this season, and the bigger picture, Wolves are sitting in 13th position with Newcastle out of the (real) European places in sixth (with three games in hand, though). Wolves have scored the fewest goals this season (19) while Newcastle have the 10th-most with 35. The distance between both squads grows larger factoring goal prevention into the equation: Wolves have allowed 35 goals (-16 GD) while Newcastle have only allowed 17 (+18 GD).
There is this thing people call a “trap game” and this could very well be one of those. It happened all the way back in August when Allan Saint-Maximin’s ridiculous volley saved Newcastle’s day. Here’s hoping that’s not the case today and we enjoy the first top-flight victory of the Magpies after failing at achieving the feat in their last five attempts (D3, L2).
Eddie Howe spoke to the media on Friday providing some fresh takes on Newcastle’s state of affairs just hours before Sunday’s game.
You can read everything Howe had to say here, as part of our pre-match coverage.
FotMob.com predictions at the upcoming Starting XIs from the Magpies and the Wolves are in, so let’s go through what could be coming from Newcastle’s Eddie Howe.
- Not Available: Krafth (knee), Joelinton (suspension)
- Doubtful: Schar (concussion)
- Elephant in the room: no wins in the last five Premier League games. As simple as that, so you know what’s the main challenge today. Let alone scoring five goals, putting on a show, or whatever else. First things first: Newcastle must get back on track and win a freaking game, no matter how they do so.
- In fact, even scoring one measly goal would already be a freaking victory, so let’s start with that. No goals scored in the past three games—against stout opponents, though, as the lads have faced Merseyside Red, Man Blue, and Man Red—are building a stinking trend. Two draws preceded those three stinkers and Newcastle scored one apiece against West Ham and Bournemouth. Let’s at least put one on the scoreboard and see how things develop.
- Speaking of goals... is it going to be Callum Wilson, or is it going to be Alexander Isak leading the Magpies on Sunday? The former bags them at a 0.52-per-90 pace compared to the latter’s 0.58. Wilson has scored one goal since Oct. 30. Isak has scored one goal since Sep. 17. No bueno. That said, give Isak a chance today handing him the starting place in the XI, Eddie!
- With Joelinton out for the next two games, the middle conundrum is automatically solved and it picks itself: Bruno, Longstaff, Willock. No depth past that, as if that was surprising at this point...
- The conundrum is now higher up the pitch, with ASM, Anthony Gordon, and Miguel Almiron (assuming only one of Isak/Wilson plays as a lone striker) fighting for two places, one per wing. Obviously, Miggy is the leading man in this three-player race as the right flank seems to be under his lock. On the left, though, things are more complicated. Wolves definitely are not so strong overall, so maybe ASM can refind his best self without having to track back that much? Or maybe is it Gordon staring for the second time in a row after doing so a week ago? Questions, questions... I’m betting on Gordon getting the call with ASM coming from the pine and the game already open and broken so he can enjoy more freedom and go with his true style of (offensive) play.
- Under-the-radar possibility on the defensive line: Burn to the middle of the defense along with Botman and Matt Targett starting at the left-back position... or most probably Jamaal Lascelles starting with Sven Botman while Dan Burn stays on the left. All of this, obviously, depends on Fabian Schar's (concussion symptoms) availability. If he is fit and ready, screw all possible changes.
- If you’re curious, Andy Madley will be the referee on Sunday. He shows 0.12 reds per game and 3.31 yellow cards. There’s that, I guess.
- This smells too much like a 1-1 draw. That’s been the result in six (!) of the nine last times these two have met. In the past 12 months, though, the record is W1, D1 in favor of Newcastle. Please, and at all costs, avoid the loss.
CHN Predicted Lineup
DEF Trippier - Lascelles - Botman - Burn
MID Longstaff - Bruno - Willock
WNG Almiron - Gordon
- Date: Sunday, March 12th
- Kick-off: 16:30 BST / 11:30 EST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)
- Broadcasts: fuboTV (CAN) — nbcsports.com, SiriusXM FC, USA Network, Telemundo, NBC Sports App, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA) — BBC Radio 5 Live, Sky Ultra HD, SKY GO Extra, Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League (UK)
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Howay the Lads!