Newcastle United will strive to bounce back from their 5-1 humbling at the hands of Tottenham when they welcome Wolves to St James’ Park on Friday night.

Newcastle United will be looking to snap their three-game losing streak in the Premier League on Friday night when they play hosts to European hopefuls Wolves. A run of six wins from seven games from January 22 to March 10 pulled Newcastle clear of the relegation zone, raising the possibility that they may challenge for a top-half finish in the final stages of the season.

However, the Magpies have since crashed back down to earth with three successive defeats, including a 5-1 hammering at Tottenham last time out. Burnley’s 3-2 win over Everton at Turf Moor last night raises the prospect of Newcastle being dragged back into the relegation dogfight, as they are now only seven points above the drop, with both Burnley and Everton having a game in hand.

It is still not time to press the panic button just yet. But Eddie Howe’s side now have three straight home games (Wolves, Leicester, Crystal Palace) and then one away at Norwich to sort out their survival, with a tricky fixture list awaiting them after that, including games against Liverpool, Manchester City, and Arsenal, before Burnley away on the final day.

Wolves, meanwhile, made it three wins from their last four as they beat Midlands rivals Aston Villa 2-1 on home soil. With a 1-0 win against Everton in their most recent away game, they have now won five of their last seven on the road and boast the fourth-best away record in the division, picking up 26 points from 15 games.

With Wolves just two points adrift of 7th-placed Manchester United, they stand a great chance of making it into the European football spots with a win over Howe’s side. The visitors are undefeated on their last three trips to St James’ Park and registered a 2-1 win over Newcastle in the reverse fixture at Molineux back in October.

Team News & Tactics

Newcastle United

Newcastle will again be without the services of Callum Wilson, Kieran Trippier, Isaac Hayden and Jamal Lewis through long-term injuries, although the former two are making good progress in their respective recoveries. Miguel Almiron (COVID-19) and Federico Fernandez (abdominal) will be subject to late assessments.

Eddie Howe will opt for his preferred 4-3-3 formation with a couple of tweaks expected given the manner of defeat in the Tottenham clash. Martin Dubravka will continue to operate between the sticks for the hosts. Guarding the Slovak shot-stopper at the heart of the Magpies’ backline will be the defensive duo of Fabian Schar and Dan Burn, looking for redemption following a second-half collapse at Spurs.

Emil Krafth might displace Javier Manquillo at right-back after a poor display from the Spaniard last time out, while Matt Targett will keep his place on the other flank. Joe Willock is an injury doubt due to a knee issue, and will likely be replaced by Bruno Guimaraes, who will make his first home start for the club on Friday night, forming a midfield three alongside playmaker Jonjo Shelvey and workhorse Joelinton.

Winter signing Chris Wood has struggled since his move from Burnley, netting just one goal so far into his Toon career. Yet to net his first goal on home turf, he will be hopeful of making more of an impact in front of a packed St James’ Park. Meanwhile, speedy wing duo Jacob Murphy and Allan Saint-Maximin will operate out wide, playing down the right and left wings, respectively.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Dubravka; Krafth, Schar, Burn, Targett; Guimaraes, Shelvey, Joelinton; Murphy, Wood, Saint-Maximin

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Wolves

Star striker Raul Jimenez remains unavailable for selection as he serves the second of a two-match ban. Ruben Neves is also out with a knee issue, while a hamstring injury will keep Ki-Jana Hoever on the sidelines for Friday’s trip to St James’ Park. Otherwise, manager Bruno Lage has no fresh injury concerns and could deploy the same side that took to the field against Villa last time out.

The Portuguese coach will set his team up in a 3-4-2-1 formation in front of goalkeeper Jose Sa. He will be shielded by the formidable three-man central defensive unit comprising Willy Boly, Conor Coady, and Max Kilman.

The width in attack will come from the wing-back duo of Jonny Castro and Fernando Marçal, who will be given the license to maraud forward to cause the opposition problems and provide quality deliveries into the box. He will also need to keep Saint-Maximin quiet throughout the game.

Meanwhile, Neves’ absence in the middle of the park should see Leander Dendoncker continue alongside Joao Moutinho. In attack, the creative onus will largely lie on the shoulders of the two wide attacking midfielders, Daniel Podence and Francisco Trincao.

With Jimenez suspended, 19-year-old forward Fabio Silva should get another chance to impress in the final third, having clocked up just 342 minutes of Premier League football so far.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Sa; Boly, Coady, Kilman; Jonny, Dendoncker, Moutinho, Marcal; Podence, F Silva, Trincao

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Key Stats

  • Newcastle have an impressive home record of late, having won their last three Premier League matches at St James’ Park.
  • But the Magpies are winless in five home league matches against Wolves (D3 L2), their last home win against them was a 4-1 victory back in April 2011.
  • Wolves are undefeated in their last eight matches against Newcastle in all competitions (W3 D5).
  • Wolves are looking to complete their first league double over Newcastle United since the 1991/92 second division campaign.
  • Since their return to the top-flight in 2018, no Premier League side has won more games on Friday than Wolves (4), level with Liverpool, Southampton and West Ham, albeit playing the most number of such games in that time (9).

Player to Watch

Allan Saint-Maximin

Reports surfaced over the weekend that Newcastle United are reportedly thinking about selling Saint-Maximin if an offer in the region of 50 million comes around this summer. With no shortage of suitors and the player out of form, it is understandable why Newcastle may consider selling the wing-wizard. However, it goes without saying that offloading him would be a real risk.

Saint-Maximin is a fan favourite among the Toon faithful for his flashy skills, direct dribbling and ability to create a magical moment all by himself. But, there is much more to the French maverick’s game than just that, and as statistics reflect, he is one of the best on the continent at what he does.

He is in the top 2 percentile amongst forwards in the Big-5 European leagues for progressive carries and dribbles completed, while in the top 6 percentile for shot-creating actions. With five goals and three assists, he would be the key to Newcastle’s goalscoring needs against Wolves, especially without Callum Wilson.

Prediction

Newcastle United 1-1 Wolves

Interestingly, five of the last six Premier League meetings between these two clubs have ended 1-1, and it would not be surprising if these two clubs cancel each other out on Friday. With neither side having the attacking luxury to blow the other out of the water, it is looking like Wolves and Newcastle United could play out a closely-fought contest here.

Furthermore, taking out their hammering at Tottenham, Newcastle’s previous four games have all been decided by just one goal. As for Wolves, they last shared the points all the way back in December. But again, their last three results have all been determined by one-goal margins, so a draw could well be on the cards at St James’ Park.

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