Newcastle will welcome a rejuvenated Wolves to St. James’ Park looking to close the gap on their opponents in the Premier League table on Sunday,
Rafa Benitez’s outfit picked up a point at Everton last time out, but have failed to win since their 2-1 victory at Burnley on matchday 13. Meanwhile, Raul Jimenez and Diego Jota were on target as Wolves claimed a famous scalp over Chelsea on Wednesday – moving the Midlands’ side up to 12th in the table after a six game winless run. Ahead of a busy winter fixture list, both teams will see this clash as a must win if they’re to enjoy comfortable campaigns. Newcastle are set to be without winger Kenedy for a second time in four days, with the Brazilian said to be touch and go following a knock in training. However, Benitez will be boosted by the return of Matt Ritchie after his one-game suspension picked up against West Ham last weekend.
Nuno Espirito Santo faces another selection dilemma with Ruben Neves returning from suspension. As alluded to, duo Jota and Jimenez impressed last time out and will be pushing for starts again.
On-loan Atletico Madrid left-back Jonny Castro is not expected to return until after the New Year and hasn’t featured since 18 November.
In 84 meetings between the sides in all competitions, Wanderers boast a narrow win record of 39 to Newcastle’s 32, while 23 have ended all square.
Sunday’s encounter is the first top flight fixture since Wolves’ 2011-12 relegation campaign, which saw Matt Jarvis and Kevin Doyle on the scoreheet as they came behind to rescue a 2-2 draw on Tyneside.
After a disastrous start that saw Newcastle pick up just four points from their first nine league games, they’ve somewhat recovered with three wins from the last five – to the relief of the Magpies faithful.
Aside from their 3-0 home hammering inflicted by West Ham, Benitez’s side have looked relatively solid in recent weeks as they look to return to winning ways.
In contrast, Wolves’ promising early season form gave way to a wretched run that saw five defeats in six – only to halt that run in sensational style in midweek. Their 2-1 comeback against the 2016-17 champions would have surprised even the most optimistic punters – whose top half ambitions remain possible.
With Newcastle facing lowly Huddersfield and Fulham in forthcoming weeks, a win against last the newly promoted Wanderers could make the winter break a bit more comfortable for the Toon Army.