Newcastle United vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers: Match Preview and Predictions
When Newcastle United play host to Wolves this weekend, they do so hoping to win four home games in a row for the first time since 2007, and also to gain the full three points to keep on pace with Arsenal and Chelsea for fourth spot.
Quite frankly, the Magpies' trip to White Hart Lane was forgettable. They offered little going forward and Emmanuel Adebayor tore them apart for an almost unprecedented goal and four assists. Great for those who had him as their fantasy captain (if you did, I hate you...), but it's back to the drawing board for Alan Pardew's side.
There's no question that they can rebound from this. A weak loss to Liverpool was also partially atoned with two subsequent wins.
While Newcastle's result was unflattering, Wolves didn't exactly shine either. A 5-1 loss to derby rivals West Bromwich Albion will be leaving them with a serious need to step their game up if they want to avoid a relegation battle.
After a strong start to the season, just seven points out of a possible 33 from 11 games has the Wanderers in a precarious position.
Both sides will be quietly happy to be knocked out of the FA Cup and not be playing European football, with an extra week to recover from poor results.
When we left off...
At Molineux this season Newcastle United emerged winners by 2-1. For what it's worth this was only three weeks after Joey Barton, the last of the four main locker-room characters, departed.
The last time these teams met at St. James' Park (and that is what I will continue to call it: thug life, no rules but my own), Newcastle took a comfortable 4-1 victory.
All's quiet on the injury front (or is it?)
Newcastle United will be thrilled to see the man with the unspellable name in Chiek Tiote return from the African Cup of Nations. His physical presence in the midfield was missed against Tottenham Hotspur.
What's your prediction?
Midfield partner Yohan Cabaye returns from suspension to spearhead the attack.
Ryan Taylor is also confident of match action this weekend, while Leon Best is still sidelined with a knee ligament injury.
Wolves' Emmanuel Frimpong will be out for the season with a knee injury sustained against West Brom. The news does get better, as fellow loanee Sebastian Bassong should return from his hamstring injury to bolster the wolf pack.
Karl Henry also makes his return from suspension.
Personally, I'm still on the Papiss Cisse bandwagon and will defend him by pointing out a lack of notable service at White Hart Lane. But really, neither side has anyone on a particularly hot run of form.
Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini (c), Santon, Tiote, Cabaye, Obertan, Gutierrez, Cisse, Ba.
Watch for Hatem Ben Arfa to come off the bench for Newcastle United to inject pace and trickery as the defenders begin to tire.
Newcastle will come out knowing that anything less than three points will be a disappointment. Fortunately, their home record is substantially better than the visiting side's away form, with seven home wins from 12 games, compared to Wolves' two away victories.
My prediction is for Newcastle to be too good and walk off 3-1 winners.
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