Wolves will look to build on their recent upturn in form as they take on Newcastle at St. James’ Park on Saturday.
After going through a winless January, Nuno’s side are yet to taste defeat in the Premier League in February and have picked up 10 points from their last four games.
By contrast, Newcastle have won just two games in all competitions since mid-December and sit perilously close to the drop zone.
Kick off at St. James’ is at 8pm and the game will be broadcast on Sky Sports.
45 minutes into the game against Arsenal at the start of February, any talk of Wolves enjoying an unbeaten month would have been laughed at. Three-and-a-half games later, Nuno’s side only need to avoid defeat against Newcastle to ensure an unbeaten month in the Premier League.
While the fifth round FA Cup exit to Southampton has undoubtedly blotted Nuno’s copybook, league results and increasingly good performances have led to renewed optimism that Wolves can still turn this mediocre-looking campaign into something to cheer.
Last Friday’s win over Leeds took Wolves to 33 points, just one shy of Arsenal and three off Tottenham and Aston Villa. Adama Traore’s 64th minute rocket cannoned off the crossbar before hitting Illan Meslier and going in to give Wolves a third win in four league games, in what was a solid performance from Nuno’s side against one of the league’s best attacking teams.
With three wins and a draw coming from four tough-looking fixtures, Wolves will certainly fancy their chances against a struggling Newcastle side on Saturday.
While Wolves’ month has been close to perfect, Newcastle’s has dragged them dangerously close to the drop zone.
A run of 12 losses in 16 games sees the Magpies sit just three points above Fulham, who by contrast have lost just one of their last seven games. The two sides meet at Craven Cottage on the last day of the season.
Steve Bruce’s side looked to have turned a corner at the start of the month after picking up impressive wins against Everton and Southampton, but defeats against Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Manchester United have completely dented the confidence of a notoriously disillusioned fanbase. A Carabao Cup exit to a heavily rotated Brentford in December combined with a third round FA Cup defeat to Arsenal hasn’t helped Bruce’s cause.
Wolves will have to keep close tabs on Allan Saint-Maximin if they are to come away with St. James’ Park with three points. The Frenchman, who has only recently returned from a bout with long COVID, impressed at Old Trafford last weekend and scored his first goal since September. Saint-Maximin can beat his man for fun and possesses Adama Traore-like amounts of pace.
Newcastle v Wolves team news
Wolves only have one new absentee from last week’s win over Leeds, as Marcal finds himself on the treatment table yet again. The 32-year-old replaced Jonny on the hour mark but was forced off after just 22 minutes with another unspecified knock.
Willy Boly and Daniel Podence are out for the next couple of weeks, while Raul Jimenez remains Nuno’s only long-term absentee.
For Newcastle, top-scorer Callum Wilson will miss the game after picking up a hamstring injury during their 3-2 win over Southampton at the start of the month.
Javier Manquillo and Fabian Schar will also miss out after being injured against the Saints, while Joelinton is a doubt after coming off against Manchester United.
Wolves line up prediction: Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Semedo, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Traore, Jose, Neto.
Newcastle v Wolves head to head
The two sides met at Molineux in October, where a Raul Jimenez volley was cancelled out by Jacob Murphy’s late free kick to earn the sides a 1-1 draw. This ensured that the last four games between the sides have finished one apiece, including the last meeting at St. James’ Park in 2019.
Wolves are unbeaten in their last four trips to Newcastle, picking up two wins and two draws. A Chancel Mbemba own goal and a brilliant Helder Costa finish earned Walter Zenga’s side a 2-0 win in September 2016, which was their first win at St. James’ since 1991.
Newcastle v Wolves prediction
Although both sides have had a below-par season, the fixture pits the league’s fifth best team over the last five games against one of its worst.
Wolves have enjoyed a resurgence after a miserable winter, but while a couple of wins have proved the springboard for Nuno’s side, Newcastle seem to be in a permanent, inescapable rut.
Not only are they in a woeful run of form, but they’re missing their only regular goal threat. Callum Wilson’s 10 league goals are double the tally of their second-top scorer, and the 29-year-old is a big miss for a side who create precious little in front of goal.
Everything points to a semi-comfortable Wolves win, and it’s hard to see anything but.
Prediction: Newcastle 0-2 Wolves