Unbeaten runs, stadium names, injuries, surprise transfers, dizzy heights and cup time-wasting are but a few of the normal exclusive events which surround ST JAMES’ PARK each and every season.
What is different though, is that NUFC are still currently bound to 6th spot, just one point behind Arsenal, who face Spurs this weekend, who sit in third. Chelsea, on the same points as Arsenal (43), sit fourth and the recent turmoil facing those two clubs mean that Newcastle United have as much purpose and possible gratification than they have had in a long, long top flight time!
Three points at home to a Wolves side who have never defeated NUFC in the Premier League and one without a ‘proper’ manager are a must to get this final third of the season, after this little break, underway. Furthermore, Newcastle are only six points shy of joining the elusive ‘1000 Premier League Points’ club – only the seven teams who have yet to miss a Premier League season have reached that mark.
Wolves so far…
• Only Chelsea have a worse disciplinary record this season – 49 yellows and 4 reds
• Wolves concede more shots per game than not only every team in the Premier League, but also across Europe’s top five domestic leagues (18.2)
• Despite their poor discipline, they produce the least tackles per game out of all the Premier League teams – just 15.7
• The Wolves produce the 3rd worst amount of dribbles per game in the league, just 4.3 on average
• Wolves are also one of four teams this season in the division yet to score from a ‘fast break’
• Only Man Utd, Chelsea & Liverpool produce more crosses per game than Wolves currently – 25
• Only Spurs and Norwich play more long balls on average per game at present – 73
• Wolves have initiated a higher percentage of attacks from the right hand side than any other Premier League this season (42%), whereas NUFC are 3rd lowest (32%)
• Only Stoke have had a higher percentage of shots from inside the six yard box this season – 10% of Wolves’ shots have come from there
• Only Liverpool have more possession on average in the opposition’s half than the black country side – 30%
Who to watch…
• Stephen Fletcher – The forward has notched 10 goals in 17 Premier League appearances meaning he shouldn’t be ignored. 44 shots this season, 15 on target and 22 off target – a 36% shooting accuracy and 27% chance conversion rate.
• Jamie O’Hara – The Englishman is 10th in the entire division for shots per game (3.2). He has also played more total and successful passes in the attacking half than anyone else at Wolves this season.
• Matt Jarvis – The wideman is VERY underrated. He has produced more chances than anyone else at the Midlands side this season (40) and he produces the most total and successful dribbles per game for Wolves – 23/48 in total.
Which way will it go?
Newcastle can’t be looking for anything other than six points from the next two home games, starting with this one against Wolves. They aren’t 18th in the league for no reason and with their current managerial crisis, NUFC have got to strike while the iron is hot!
Last time out, Wolves produced over double the attempts at goal NUFC did (28 to 13) and the slightly better possession. Newcastle produced more passes though, but not in the attacking half. With both Demba’s playing and the return of Cabaye and Tiote, Newcastle should have more than enough quality to get the ball in the final third and be damaging with their possession.
Wolves will cross the ball to death! Last time they got in no less than 45 crosses compared to our 14, but none of the 20 chances they created came from the left hand side (see graphic). Davide Santon in particular has got to do all he can to stop the crossing opportunity and if/when it does come in, Colo & Williamson must perform better than they have in recent weeks in dealing with the first and second ball in and around the box.
Jamie O’Hara will need nullifying, as he has the potential to hurt many a team and Newcastle mustn’t underestimate the ability of Steven Fletcher if playing. When crossing ourselves, Christophe Berra and Roger Johnson must be avoided, as they win everything aerially for Wolves.
With Newcastle the closest they have been for a while to full strength, this one could have a very happy ending! It will not be as easy as some may think though, and the black & whites will need to work very hard to gain 3 points, but they are definitely capable of doing so.
NUFC_Stats prediction: 2-0