I really didn’t see us losing at Burton.
And Paul Lambert was right about the importance of taking a point when we can’t win tight matches.
In the Championship that’s probably the key difference between sides in the top and bottom halves of the table.
Now we go into this difficult fixture once again fretting about what a couple more negative results could mean in the context of our season.
The performance up at St. James’ Park in September was one of the best we’ve managed all year and certainly the high point of Walter Zenga’s brief time in charge.
Jonjo Shelvey can expect a hot reception after being found guilty of racially abusing Romain Saiss in that 2-0 defeat for the Magpies.
There’s no excuse for his actions, even in the heat of the moment. Hopefully the players involved will just get on with it, but the fans certainly won’t be as forgiving.
Newcastle are still setting a brisk pace at the top of the table, well ahead of the standard 2 point per game average normally required for automatic promotion.
They’ve lost 7 times, but racked up 20 wins in 29 matches. Whenever they wobble, they seem able to readjust and stay on course.
Rafa Benitez is an exceptional coach and has good depth in the squad.
Top scorer Dwight Gayle might miss this one but they can still call on Aleksandar Mitrovic who more than held his own in the Premier League.
Still really anyone’s guess about the starting eleven, but this would probably be my best effort:
Much of the team remains interchangeable and I’m still deciding whether that’s a good or bad thing.
It’s certainly very useful to have options, but most teams that are successful at least have a nucleus of 7 or 8 players who start most weeks providing a consistent platform.
Our nucleus consists of about four players (Ikeme, Doherty, Costa & Edwards) and I feel that has to increase if we’re to ever challenge in the top half.
For the moment, we can be more relaxed about going week to week and trying to eek out the wins that will keep us out of strife at the bottom.
This looks a really tough fixture.
Newcastle have outscored everyone by a considerable distance, averaging just under 2 goals per game. They have one of the best defensive records too.
Wolves seem to thrive on the big occasion at present so there’s an argument that being underdogs plays into our hands.
On balance, I think we’ll score, but probably not as many as them. Hope to be proven wrong.
Up The Wolves!