Half time in the game at St. James’ Park was a pivotal moment in the season.
It was the first game without Willy Boly and Nuno’s experiment playing Matt Doherty in the back three had failed.
Cue a change of formation, Dendoncker into defence, Traore further forward, Doherty in his natural position and all of a sudden – the team comes alive.
After salvaging a draw that afternoon the team have continued playing on the front foot and looked significantly better for having done so.
Despite consecutive league defeats, they should still feel confident heading into this one.
The Geordies themselves embarked on a fantastic run of results after the spoils were shared in October.
They just kept climbing until a poor spell over Christmas checked that progress.
Defeats to Man Utd, Everton and Leicester, combined with a mounting injury list has left Steve Bruce with some issues to resolve.
Still, you would have to say that so far he’s done a much better job than many anticipated given the situation he inherited.
And with a couple of players returning tomorrow, including the enigmatic Allan Saint-Maximin he’ll believe they can build on a solid first half of the season and avoid getting sucked back towards the bottom three.
They’ve managed 3 victories from their 10 away matches thus far (including wins at Spurs and Sheffield Utd), but crucially lost the other 7.
They don’t score a lot and despite being well-drilled defensively for the most part, when things do go wrong, they tend to go badly wrong.
The away end
Some comments lifted from the pre-match thread on the Not606 Newcastle Forum.
Perhaps hard to see us getting anything more than a point although with the recent games and form, a loss is the most likely result for this one (63% Wolves win, 23% Draw, 14% NUFC Win). In more positive news there are rumors abound that ASM, Dummy, Clark and a few other of the missing injured will be back in contention for the game. Wouldn’t expect any of them to start but we could have a half decent bench for this one. Lacselles and Carroll are rated at 50% possibility to play in this one. Get all the doom and gloom around the club currently but once we get this one and Chelsea the following week out the way I don’t think we have a top 6 teams to play until the final 5 games of the season so fingers crossed we can pick up the points needed so that we will be safe before then.
Bad to worse beckons I fear. Wolves, like Leicester, are simply much better, particularly in the management department. They press higher and fast, which kills our pedestrian attempts at “football”. Hoofball will be employed for 89 of the 90 minutes, in spite of it never working, and I imagine we’ll persevere with 3-5-2 (well, 9-0-1) even though it 1) doesn’t work and 2) never will.
I’d expect us to stick to 3-5-2 (5-3-2 in reality) and try and match up Wolves in the middle of the park. Myself and Captain had this debate earlier in the year for the reverse fixture and I honestly think that is the way to go but I don’t think we have the quality with the injuries we have to do so. I’m going for a 3-1 loss with Fernandez getting our goal.
I think reverting back to the 343 shape ultimately accounted for Patrick Cutrone. Barring injury to Raul, he was never going to get the opportunities with just one center forward position up for grabs.
He needs replacing though and even with Nuno’s preference for a small squad, it’s got to mean at least one new face is imminent.
If Jota remains out tomorrow, Neto is the only viable option.
I thought he did quite well against Man Utd but the combination of him and Vinagre down the left is erratic. He’ll be better served with the steady presence of Jonny backing him up.
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Nobody predicted the 2-1 defeat at Watford the last time out so it remains as you were at the top of the Prediction League table with Iceni Wolf leading the way.
If you’d like to join in this week simply leave your prediction in the comment section below using the boxes provided.
That’s where you’ll also find my best guess for this one.
Up The Wolves!