The gap to sixth is only two points, but it will still take a strong finish to make it into the European places.
By my reckoning, something like 62 points is going to be the minimum requirement and that means four wins and a draw at least from the remaining seven games.
The obvious route is beating Newcastle, Burnley, Brighton and Norwich leaving us to scab a point off Chelsea, Man City or Liverpool.
Not impossible, but far from straightforward.
As the lads like to say though, we go one game at a time and this will be a good test at a rejuvenated St. James’ Park.
Expect a hot atmosphere tomorrow night because the Geordies know they’re probably one more win away from securing their Premier League status.
Three successive defeats have just reintroduced a small amount of doubt, but in context, two of those losses were to Chelsea and in-form Spurs.
Although they still need to play Man City, Liverpool and Arsenal, their other winnable fixtures combined with a decent head start should be sufficient for survival.
The money they spent in January looks like money well spent with Trippier (now injured), Burn, Targett and Wood all making contributions in important wins. Marquee signing Bruno Guimarães has had limited game time but got his first goal a few weeks back and may well start tomorrow.
Allan Saint-Maximin is their most obvious attacking threat while Chris Wood has an excellent scoring record against Wolves so limiting service to both of those players will be key.
The home end
Some comments lifted from the pre-match thread on a popular Newcastle forum.
There won’t be much in this at all. Wolves have the best away record in the league outside the top three. The foundation of that is they’re a really solid defensive unit. That’ll be boosted by the returns of Boly and Semedo. While defensively solid they have found goals hard to come by and that won’t be helped with missing their biggest two threats in Neves and Jiminez. That means they’ll be relying on a tricky but erratic front three of Podence, Trincao and Silva to do the damage. Yesterday’s horror show aside. We haven’t conceded more than one goal in a game since December, but much like Wolves we haven’t exactly been electric in front of goal either. I do think we have to factor in a bouncing SJP under the lights. I think this will be a fairly low scoring game and I’m torn between 0-0 or 1-0 to us.
Win this, get beat off Leicester, beat Palace and stay up. Buy 16 new players in the summer and win the league next season. Easy.
They are super good on the counter, and very hard to break down. I wouldn’t personally go pressing these too high. They are such a well drilled team, and that midfield is very dominant. Lage has done a great job.
I can’t see where our goals will come from at the minute, we haven’t scored nor looked like scoring from open play since the Southampton game. Couple this with playing one of the best defences in the league and I think we will do well to get a draw.
Well done to Bruno for going the opposite way to my proposed tactics for the Villa game and being proven 100% correct. I didn’t think a midfield two would do enough to stop them playing through us, but Moutinho and Dendoncker did superbly and the front three got into their defence far better than I expected.
It’s a different proposition away from home so I wonder if we’ll see changes? It would be harsh for anyone to drop out, but it is difficult to second guess Bruno as he will adapt to suit a particular game.
The wingback situation is very interesting. Semedo was in contention for Player of the Season prior to his injury but Jonny has come into the side and looks even better. You’ve then got the talented Ait-Nouri and the more physically capable Marcal offering great options down the other side. I can see there being a lot of rotation between these players between now and May.
Fabio and Trincao have seen their stock surge in recent weeks but they have to prove they can perform consistently. Podence continues to infuriate and dazzle in almost equal measures so it’s a very mercurial front three.
Last time out
Wolves were worthy winners at Molineux earlier in the season. We should have been a couple of goals up before Newcastle got level in contentious fashion, blasting the ball into an empty net after Jose Sa was seemingly taken out in the build-up. But Hwang got his second smartly taken goal of the game to win it in the second half.
Both games ended 1-1 last season with Ruben Neves equalising via a smart diving header at St James’ Park. Newcastle had dominated up to that point but Wolves could have won it late on and Fabio saw a point-blank header clawed out right at the death.
Well done to Dek, Wokingham Welsh Wolf, WOLFSTROKER, Balsall Heathen Wolves, St.Kitts Wolves, DeptfordWolf, Franski, Dallas Bob, Brompton Wolf, The Dodgster and Telford Wolf for all getting a maximum with a correct scoreline prediction against Villa.
Brompton Wolf remains clear at the top of the overall table at the end of Gameweek 31.
As always, if you’d like to join in, it’s simple – just leave your prediction in the comment section below using the boxes provided. Then repeat for every preview article throughout the season, making sure you always use the same email address to make your prediction. Your email is what ties you to your overall score.
You can read my prediction for the game in the comment section below.
Up The Wolves!
Polite request – when commenting in the preview article after the game has finished, can you not place score predictions in the boxes, please? It confuses the system. Many thanks.