Newcastle head to the Midlands on Saturday afternoon where they will take on Mick the Mackems Wolves at a redeveloping Molineux Stadium.
The fact that the Wolves ground is being redeveloped has partly contributed to a meagre away allocation of just 1,200 seats for the travelling contingent which has, unsurprisingly, sold out.
Mind you, I was there last season and the allocation wasn’t much bigger in fairness although I suspected, and was subsequently proved right, that this was down to our rather rotund owner not wishing to shell out money for tickets that he might not be able to shift resulting in our club only taking tickets for away grounds on a sale or return basis.
Anyway I’m sailing dangerously close to ripping apart the NUFC ticketing policy which, as you can probably guess by the title, is not the actual point of the article so it’s back to the match for now.
The last time Newcastle secured a top-flight win at Wolves The Kalin Twins were number one in the music charts with their song called ‘When’ while Elvis Presley sat at the top of the album chart with his album ‘King Creole’. Not familiar with such ditties? No, neither am I really but then again it was back in September 1958!
Since then we’ve tried 15 times to come out on top against the Wolves and have failed on each and every occasion. However such records are there to be broken and with Newcastle on a great run of form and having dispelled the recent hoodoo’s against Aston Villa and Blackburn Alan Pardew and Co must surely be confident of ending another results jinx?
Richard Stearman is likely to miss the match after injuring his toe against Liverpool last week. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Ronald Zubar, Kevin Foley and Jody Craddock are all out of action for Mick McCarthy’s side however Steven Fletcher returns to action and will partner Kevin Doyle up front as Mick Mac has promised to resort to a more conventional 4-4-2 formation for the visit of Newcastle.
In terms of form it’s a case of must do better for Wolves. The season started off well with wins away at Blackburn and at home against Fulham. However they are winless in the league since then having drawn with Aston Villa before going down to Queens Park Rangers, Tottenham and Liverpool.
Their last game was a 2-1 defeat at Anfield where they lined up with a team of:
Wayne Hennessey, Richard Stearman, Stephen Ward, Roger Johnson, Cristophe Berra, David Edwards, Karl Henry, Stephen Hunt, Matt Jarvis, Jamie O’Hara, Kevin Doyle
Alan Pardew has no fresh injury concerns for the trip to Molineux and only has Mike Williamson, Alan Smith and Haris Vuckic ruled out through injury although the latter is so close to returning from a hand injury that he has been called up by his national team.
Rob Elliot is likely to take a space on the bench as Steve Harper goes missing again. Don’t shoot the messenger, but I have heard that he has shown an unwillingness to travel to away matches just to sit on the bench. Maybe his knees are worse than first feared? On the plus side Davide Santon is included in a matchday squad for the first time since his arrival from Inter Milan.
In terms of the starting XI it’s unlikely to be changed from the team that beat Blackburn 3-1 last weekend. That means that we’ll line up looking a bit like this:
Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Gabriel Obertan, Cheik Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez, Leon Best, Demba Ba
Facts and stats
The meeting between these two sides last season saw referee Stuart Attwell produce the yellow card no less that 12 times. That was a Premier League record high for bookings in one game last season, and most of them would have been for tackles on Joey Barton.
Kelvin Henry is a bellend. Fact.
Newcastle are unbeaten in nine league games.
Steven Fletcher has scored 7 goals in his last 11 games.
Leon Best is now Newcastle’s most aerially dominant player winning 63% of his headers in his 4 starts and 1 substitute appearance in the Premier League. Best also has more shots per game than any other NUFC player, notching up 2.4 per game. Ryan Taylor is a close 2nd with 2.3 followed by Jonas with 2.2 shots per game.
Wolves have won four and drawn two of the last six home matches between the two sides in all competitions. However three of the last four Premier League meetings have ended all square at 1-1 with the exception being the 4-1 victory for Newcastle at St James’ Park back in April.
In terms of a result, I think we should be aiming to extend out fine run of form with a win although I recognise that Molineux is not an easy place to go to. In all honesty I’d be happy with a point which would more than likely be enough to secure a 4th placed spot heading into the international break. It may not last forever, but there is nowt wrong with wanting to prolong our occupation of a Champions League place.
For those travelling to the game, from experience I can tell you that you will be able to get a beer in Walkabout on Queen Street in the City Centre. It’s about a five minute walk from the train station and about ten minutes from the ground. Be on guard though as there is a minority of Wolves fans who appear to be stuck in the 1970’s with their knuckle dragging behaviour. My sheer silver tongue’d smoothness managed to get me, Marktoon and Jay Jay out of trouble after a group of blokes decided to have a pop at us for some reason after the game last season.
In short, stay safe, enjoy, and sing your hearts out for the lads!
Howay the lads!
Date: Saturday, 1st October, 2011
Time: 3:00pm UK time
Venue: Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton