Wolves host Newcastle United at Molineux on Sunday afternoon and will be in good spirits after a morale-boosting victory over Leeds at Elland Road on Monday night. The visitors come into the game following an indifferent run of results which has seen them collect seven points from their opening five games. The game is broadcast live on Sky Sports Super Sunday with kick-off at 4:30PM.
Wolves come into the game against Newcastle following back to back wins for the first time this season. 1-0 victories against Fulham and Leeds have propelled Nuno’s side to 6th in the table. Despite consecutive wins, Wolves performances have been far from convincing. The result against Fulham proved to be hard work, particularly against a side who remain without a win so far this season. It was certainly not a comfortable affair and Nuno was about as critical as he has ever been following a victory since he has been in charge at Molineux.
In addition to this, this first half of the game against Leeds was nothing short of soul-destroying, but what was a shaky and lacklustre 45 minutes soon turned into the perfect away performance as Wolves pressed on and took all three points from an impressive Leeds side. They also did this without coming under any considerable amount of pressure in the second half. Going forward, Wolves certainly need to improve their intensity and creativity, particularly with successive home games against Newcastle and Crystal Palace in the coming week. Both Newcastle and Palace will be happy to sit in and soak up any possession which Wolves have, meaning the onus will be on the home side to break them down in order to gain three points.
Newcastle United form
Newcastle United’s start to the season has been inconsistent to say the least. Following the failed takeover in the summer, mood amongst the toon is relatively low. However, they did get off to the perfect start with a 2-0 win away at West Ham, only to be brought back down to earth a week later by Brighton who scored three at St James’ Park. A fortunate point at Tottenham following a stoppage-time penalty given for a dubious handball followed by a 3-1 victory over Burnley put Newcastle in the top half of the table after 4 rounds of fixtures. However, Manchester United, still hurting from their 6-1 defeat at home to Tottenham, thrashed Toon 4-1 last weekend following a late surge of goals. Newcastle offered very little going forward throughout the game and were fortunate to be level with just 5 minutes remaining, only for United to take the initiative and leave Tyneside victorious.
The Magpies also remain in the Carabao Cup, having most recently progressed past Newport County on penalties as well as scoring seven in a victory away at Morecambe. New signing Callum Wilson already has 4 goals to his name this season and will prove a handful for the Wolves backline, while Allan Saint-Maximin will prove a threat on the counterattack. Nullify the threats of this dangerous pairing and Wolves have every chance of taking three points from the game.
Wolves v Newcastle Team News
New signing Fernando Marcal is thought to be fully fit and ready for selection, meaning it is likely that he will slot in at left-wing back. Romain Saiss has done an admirable job in the previous two victories, but his vulnerability against pacey wingers was evident, meaning Marcal is more likely to come in in order to combat the pace of Saint-Maximin. Max Kilman’s man of the match display against Leeds should be enough for him to keep his place on the left of the back three.
The midfield selection is possibly the most unpredictable element of the Wolves team heading into this game. Leander Dendoncker has been present in all three of Wolves’ wins this season and is likely to keep his place. Joao Moutinho was excellent in breaking up the Leeds United attacks on Monday evening, but Newcastle will pose a completely different challenge. This will be a challenge more suited to the strengths of Ruben Neves, who will have to be at his best in order to break the Newcastle defensive line down and aim to get Wolves’ pacey front three and wing-backs in behind. Pedro Neto will continue to operate in his new role, aiming to link midfield and attack, supporting the midfield press when out of possession but also looking to run in behind and support Raul Jimenez in attack.
Likely Line Up: Patricio, Boly, Coady, Kilman, Semedo, Neves, Dendoncker, Marcal, Neto, Podence, Jimenez (Subs: Ruddy, Saiss, Hoever, Moutinho, Vitinha, Traore, Silva)
Newcastle are expected to have a clean bill of health ahead of the trip to Molineux, pending the results of this week’s round of COVID-19 testing. Newcastle have been adopting a 4-5-1 formation for the duration of this season, but with added fluidity as Steve Bruce looks to give his side more license to attack. Callum Wilson has played as the lone striker for the Magpies, but when in possession he is quickly supported by both wingers, usually Saint-Maximin and Joelinton, meaning they play with three attackers when in possession. However, Bruce will be fully aware that in order to get a result at Molineux, his team will have to sit deep and compact, meaning that rigid 4-5-1 will be evident when Wolves are in possession.
Wolves v Newcastle United Head to head
The game at Molineux will be the 100th encounter between the sides in all competitions, with Wolves having the upper hand in the previous 99, coming out victorious on 41 occasions. Wolves are unbeaten against Newcastle since their promotion in 2017 but have only beaten the Toon on one occasion when a last gasp Matt Doherty goal gave Wolves all three points at St James Park, with the three remaining fixtures all ending 1-1. The most recent encounter came back in January at Molineux where Wolves missed a plethora of chances to win the game, a game that included some magnificent goalkeeping from Martin Dubravka after the sides exchanged early goals.
Wolves v Newcastle United prediction
It will certainly be an intriguing test for Wolves, and a completely different one to that of Leeds United on Monday evening. The game is likely to reveal how far Wolves have come in recent weeks as Nuno looks to evolve the style of play to become a more possession-based team who are able to dominate games. Newcastle are more than likely to be content with Wolves in possession, meaning the onus is on the home side to create chances and break down the visitors packed midfield. The performance of the midfield pairing, whichever Nuno may opt for, is likely to be the key battle on the pitch. If Wolves can get the better of the likes of Isaac Hayden and Jonjo Shelvey, gaining time on the ball and the chance to play the tricky front three in behind, Wolves have every chance of scoring goals against what is a shaky Newcastle defence. Fail to do this, however, and the game is likely to play out as many of the previous encounters between the sides have done, stalemate.
Prediction: Wolves 1-1 Newcastle