Newcastle welcome Wolves to St James’s Park on Saturday evening, as they look to bounce back after two travelling defeats (8pm; TV: Live on Sky Sports). In contrast, the visitors will be hoping to continue moving on up after back-to-back wins.
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Newcastle may come into this fixture off the back of two defeats, but there is no real shame in losing to two top-four teams, while their efforts at Old Trafford last time out, where they found the back of the net, weren’t entirely displeasing. Prior to losing against Chelsea and Man United, the Magpies showed that they are up for the fight by beating Southampton by three goals to two at this venue. On that occasion, we saw that Steve Bruce’s men do indeed offer a threat, much of which came from the return of their talismanic Frenchman Allan Saint-Maximin, whose fitness is critical to Newcastle’s survival bid.
Wolves had been struggling to get going prior to their trip to St Mary’s a fortnight ago, and it looked as if their problems were set to increase when Danny Ings gave the south coast side a first-half lead, though Nuno Espírito Santo’s men fought back through Ruben Neves and Pedro Neto, eventually coming out on top by two goals to one. Such a victory seemingly acted as a springboard for success, as the men in orange recently returned from Elland Road with both three points and a clean sheet.
For a rather lengthy period, Newcastle found it incredibly hard not only to score goals but create scoring opportunities. Steve Bruce’s men had scored in just one of their last eight prior to the return of Allan Saint-Maximin, who has undoubtedly galvanised the Magpies’ attack in recent weeks. The attack-minded French international returned with a 20-minute cameo against Villa back in January and has since featured in all six of Newcastle’s matches. The Magpies have failed to score in just one of those six.
It has not been a vintage season for Newcastle at St James’s Park, which was once a notoriously difficult place to go. That said, it is not as if teams have been going there and winning with ease of late. Prior to their 3-2 win over the Saints last time out at home, Bruce’s side had lost three on the bounce on their own patch, but each of those were single-goal defeats, while they scored in three out of three. If we look at some underlying numbers from Newcastle’s last four at home, then it’s easy to feel that they’re overpriced ahead of this fixture. In their last four at home, Newcastle have posted an average of 1.05 expected goals per 90, which isn’t great, but they have only conceded an average of 1.05, so it’s not as if they are allowing teams to create lots more than they are creating themselves. Moreover, in two of their last three at home, they have bettered their opponents in terms of xG.
Wolves up and down on the road
It’s been a bit of an in and out season for Wolves this time around. After taking their challenge for the top four right to the wire last term, Nuno’s side have fallen short this term. They are by no means an easy side to get the better of, though it appears that they’ve lost a little of their spark, which was perhaps to be expected with Diogo Jota leaving and Raúl Jiménez picking up a serious injury early in the campaign.
On their travels, Wolves, though not simple to beat, have struggled to put their best foot forward of late, winning just one of their last seven away league matches. They did beat Southampton when last in action on the road, but their overall travelling efforts in recent times don’t exactly suggest that they’ll go to St James’s and win with ease. They have scored in just two of their last five away games, while an overall average of 0.81 expected goals for isn’t exactly anything to for the hosts to fear. They have also been bettered in terms of expected goals in two of their last three on the road, including against a famously low-scoring Crystal Palace outfit.
Hosts can upset the odds
Wolves come into this match eight points better off than Newcastle, though does that mean that they should be red-hot favourites ahead of this away game? If we consider that Wolves have been reasonably weak on the road of late, especially in an offensive sense, scoring in just one of their last three, then it’s easy to feel that the hosts warrant more respect. Especially after they rediscovered some strong attacking form when last in action at this venue, while they now have their main man back in the fold, which is not to be underestimated. Newcastle’s threat greatly increases when Saint-Maximin is on the pitch.
All things considered, the hosts look to be slightly underestimated by the oddsmakers at the top sports betting sites and are fancied to outperform their price tag. On this basis, a small play on the home win offers punters a slice of value. So this is our betting tip for this Newcastle vs Wolves preview:
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Bradley Gibbs is an experienced football writer. He is an expert analyst on Premier League, and all global football leagues & tournaments, for Just Bookies. Bradley has been published by many respected outlets, including USA Betting and the Racing & Football Outlook. He has also written betting strategy guides.