Wolverhampton-Newcastle United Preview
Steve Bruce knows Newcastle United are reaching crunch time in their bid to beat the drop, starting against Wolves on Saturday.
Newcastle have seen the gap to the bottom three cut to just three points heading into this weekend, with Fulham, one place below the Magpies in 18th, finding form.
Bruce's side have lost at Chelsea and Manchester United since a run of two wins in three appeared to get their season back on track. But with a more favourable stretch coming up, including Wolves' trip to St James' Park, the pressure is on to pull clear.
"It'd be nice to win, but with 13 games to go, there's a lot (of time left)," Bruce said of Saturday's game. "The tickly bit is upon us, the daffodils are coming up, so that usually is the first sign. We've got some big games coming up and, as I say, the accumulation of points (is key). But it would be great on Saturday night to come away sitting on 28 points, rather than 25. That's got to be the aim."
Ten points from a possible 12 looks to have lifted Wolves to safety and they have been further boosted by Raul Jimenez's return to light training following his skull fracture last year.
Nuno is "totally confident" the talismanic striker will play again this season.
"We have to be very aware of the circumstances and avoid any kind of contact," the manager said. "He has been able to participate in the initial part of training sessions. Just being with his team-mates is a big help for him and us. We are following the protocols. There's no rush but we are delighted that Raul is getting better and better day by day, so it is fantastic for us."
Newcastle United – Martin Dubravka
It looks like the time has come for Newcastle number one Dubravka, injured at the start of the season, to replace Karl Darlow in goal. He will hope to end a run that has seen the Magpies concede exactly twice in each of their past four home league games. They last shipped two or more in five in a row in the league at St James' Park in September 1991, then playing in the second tier.
Wolves – Leander Dendoncker
Against such a porous defence, and despite Dubravka's expected return, Dendoncker will hope this is finally his day. He has had more shots without scoring than any other player in the Premier League this season, his 26 attempts failing to find the net. Still without Raul Jimenez, a scoring run from midfield would provide a real boost.
- Since a 4-1 victory in April 2011, Newcastle are winless in their past four home league games against Wolves (D2 L2).
- Of all the Premier League fixtures to have been played at least 10 times, Newcastle v Wolves has seen the highest percentage of games finish in a draw (73 per cent - eight of 11). Each of the past four league meetings between the sides have finished 1-1.
- Both teams have scored in all 11 Premier League meetings between Newcastle and Wolves, making it the most played fixture in the competition in which neither side has kept a clean sheet.
- Newcastle have had a player sent off in each of their past three home league games against Wolves: Vurnon Anita in September 2016, DeAndre Yedlin in December 2018 and Sean Longstaff in October 2019.
- Newcastle have lost eight of their last 10 Premier League games, winning the other two. Indeed, the Magpies have lost more league games in 2021 than any other Premier League side (eight).
Updated February 26, 2021