On a high from Wednesday’s victory over Chelsea, Wolves head north to Newcastle United on Sunday, hoping to build on it. Here’s five things to look out for at St James’ Park.
1. GOALS GALORE
Supporters can expect goals at St James’ Park, if past meetings between the two clubs are anything to go by. Both teams have scored in all six Premier League meetings, making it the most played fixture in the competition not to see a clean sheet. Wolves have gone since October without a clean sheet, while Newcastle have conceded in their previous four Premier League fixtures. The onus could be on the visitors however, as Wolves have registered 41 more shot attempts than Newcastle in the Premier League this season, but have scored just three more goals. Can they be more clinical in the north east?
2. RAFA’S RECORD
Hosting a newly-promoted club, Rafael Benitez will fancy his side’s chances given his past record. The Spaniard, across his time with Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle, holds an unbeaten home record against teams fresh from the Championship. The run stretches to 22 matches, but the Magpies are yet to face Cardiff or Fulham at St James’ Park, so is his impressive record about to end at the hands of Nuno Espirito Santo’s men?
3. NEW SECRET WEAPON
Wednesday evening’s victory over Chelsea saw Wolves unveil a new weapon in their armoury, courtesy of Ryan Bennett. The defender produced a series of long throws, which arrowed into the Chelsea penalty area and caused defenders serious problems. Conor Coady spoke post-match about the thought process behind the throw ins, which worked a treat, and supporters will hope to see them in the north east on Sunday. Newcastle will be aware of Wolves’ new threat and will be working on a way to counteract them, after conceding more goals from set piece situations than any other Premier League club. The Magpies have conceded ten goals from dead balls, the latest coming on Wednesday evening when Richarlison earned Everton a point against United for a corner.
4. MIXED FORM FOR BOTH
On home soil, Newcastle have lost six of the eight Premier League fixtures this season and only once have they lost as many at this stage of a top-flight season previously, in 1953/54. After five consecutive home defeats to open the campaign, Newcastle appeared to turn the tide in November with victories over Watford and Bournemouth, but were humbled by West Ham last weekend. More recently however, the Magpies picked up a point at Goodison Park after a resolute display.
Wolves have won two of their Premier League away games this term, at West Ham and Crystal Palace, but have found wins on the road hard to come by recently. Last time away Nuno’s side were beaten at Cardiff, but previously had claimed a respectable point at Arsenal earlier in the month. However, they’ll be buoyed by a memorable victory over Chelsea on Wednesday evening, going into a busy December.
5. NEVES BACK IN THE EQUATION
Wolves welcome Ruben Neves back from suspension, but will Nuno decide to stick with a winning team? Romain Saiss impressed in the midfield, while the incoming Bennett, Morgan Gibbs-White and Diogo Jota all put in game-changing performances against the Blues. Jonny Otto remains on the sidelines, so Ruben Vinagre is expected to start once again.
As for the Magpies, they’ll be hoping to welcome Kenedy and Paul Dummett back in time for Sunday. Dummett has been missing for three weeks, with Javier Manquillo deputising, but is back training and provides another option to Benitez, while Kenedy missed the trip to Goodison Park with a toe injury, but it also back fit and expected to start.