Newcastle United host Wolverhampton Wanderers as the season reaches its final two months and the Magpies continue to fight for a place in the top 4. They currently are 6th in the table 7 points behind Spurs with 3 games in hand. Eddie Howe’s men had a February to forget as they failed to win any of their 3 league games while also losing the EFL Cup final to Manchester United.
With the Champions League qualification still within their reach and the end of their EFL cup run, Newcastle will have to turn their complete focus towards the league and try to achieve this remarkable feat starting with a tricky game against Julian Loptegui’s Wolves who come into the game on the back of a 1-0 victory against top 4 contenders Spurs.
Wolves find themselves 13th in the table and have turned their season around ever since the appointment of Julian Loptegui. His side have won 5 out of their 11 league games so far while also scoring 11 out of their total goal scoring tally of 19 goals under the new boss. This managerial change by the Wolves’ board certainly has changed the fortunes of the club as they have steered clear of the relegation zone and are 4 points clear off 18th place.
When and Where
Date:- 12th March, 2023
Time:- 4:30 PM
Venue:- St. James’ Park
Referee:- Andy Madley
Assistants:- Harry Lennard, Nick Hopton
Fourth Official:- Craig Pawson
VAR:- Tony Harrington
Assistant VAR:- Constantine Hatzidakis
Eddie Howe will be without Joelinton who will be serving a 2 match suspension after picking up his 10th yellow card of the season against Manchester City last weekend. The other absentees for the Magpies are Emile Krafth and Ryan Fraser as the former is still on the sidelines nursing an injury and the latter has been sent to the U-21 side after a fall out with the manager. Fabian Schar, who missed last week’s trip to Manchester City, will be back in contention for a start after recovering from his facial injury.
Wolves have a long list of injuries as they lost Diego Costa to an ankle injury as the Spaniard was stretchered off against Spurs. Raul Jimenez will be reinstated in the no.9 role as Loptegui has his other strikers in the treatment room with the likes of Matheus Cunha, Sasa Kalajdzic and Chiquinho all unavailable as they are nursing long term injuries.
Pedro Neto was handed a surprising start against Spurs which was the Portugese’s first start in 5 months. Adama Traore is expected to replace Neto as the latter might not be fully match fit yet and will need to build match fitness.
Manchester City were comfortable 2-0 winners against Newcastle last weekend even though the Magpies gave it their all in the game. They created plenty of chances but lacked the final end product as Callum Wilson had a glaring miss to forget. Even though their winless run in the league stretches to 5 consecutive matches, Eddie Howe’s men will have to get back in the groove and find their momentum again. The recent slip in form hasn’t hindered their defensive record of being the best defence in the league as they have conceded just 17 goals so far.
The return of Alexander Isak will be a boost for Howe as the Swedish summer arrival missed out on a lot of game time due to an injury. His substitute cameo against Manchester City was certainly encouraging as he looks like he is ready to start. Howe might have to consider starting Allan Saint Maximin, Alexander Isak and Miguel Almiron as his front three to get his attack firing again. Having scored just 3 league goals this calendar year, they will need the goals to overcome a resilient Wolves defense and also end their winless streak.
Wolves got their game plan spot on against Spurs as they managed to scrape past the Lilywhites. The Wolves attack has been toothless so far this season as they have lost their key attacking players to injuries this season. They will be up against the best defence in the league away from home and nothing short of a top performance will be needed by them to triumph over the struggling Magpies and continue to steer clear of the relegation zone.
The Paraguayan is having his best individual season so far for the Magpies and looks like a new signing for Howe. Shifting him to the right wing and giving him the freedom to create and get into the box to finish has certainly helped Almiron, as he has scored 10 goals and assisted once this season in 26 games. He will be a key player for his side as his creativity and clinical finishing will help Newcastle open up the Wolves defence and score.
The Portugese has settled well since his January arrival at Wolves and has contributed well to the attack. Since his Premier League debut, Sarabia has created more chances(7), had more shots on target(3) and played more passes into the box(29) than any of his teammates. He is also averaging 8.32 touches in the defensive third, 0.17 non-penalty expected goals per shot and looks like Loptegui’s chief orchestrator. Newcastle will have to man-mark the Spaniard to nullify his creativity in attack and his influence on the game from the first minute.
Newcastle United(4-3-3): Pope; Trippier, Botman, Schar, Burn; S Longstaff, Bruno Guimaraes, Willock; Almiron, Wilson, Saint-Maximin
Wolves(4-3-3): Jose Sa; Nelson Semedo, Dawson, Kilman, Jonny; Ruben Neves, Lemina, Joao Moutinho; A Traore, Jimenez, Sarabia