Wolves v Newcastle - Match Preview
After a big win against Villa, Newcastle make a return trip to the West Midlands. Having won at Molineux only 5 times in 44 visits, can they keep up the momentum, or will they be thrown to the Wolves?
History may not be too much of a guide to the result, since Newcastle have only visited Molineux once in the Premier League years. Hughton will however take heart that Newcastle have not lost there since the Premier League was formed, having gained a point in the 2003-4 season, despite not having won in the top flight there since 1958.
During the last 50 years, following a win after scoring 6 or more goals, Newcastle have only won twice on their next away league game out of 16 attempts. The good news is that 5 of the last six such encounters have also ended in draws.
Wolves were of course held up as an example by the Newcastle United hierarchy during the close season as a club who have done well to be promoted and survive. Their transfer expenditure before the start of last season was just short of £15m, a figure that Newcastle have yet to reach. However, visiting supporters will be talking as much about impending transfers as about the game itself.
A huge part of their survival is down to Mick McCarthy who is already legendary to the Toon Army. He will be remembered as a manager who took Sunderland to a relegation, and left them shortly before a 2nd relegation with a record low points tally.
This will be something of a reunion between the two managers, having both been colleagues for the Republic of Ireland for many years. As players, honours were broadly even during their times at Spurs and Man City, although Hughton`s side completed the double during their last encounter with McCarthy at Millwall.
Both sides go into this match having gained Carling up wins with much changed sides against League 2 opposition. Wolves are unbeaten this season, making this a surprise top half clash. Both managers are likely to revert to the sides that played in the last league games.
For Wolves, that means a probable 4-1-4-1 with Marcus Hahnemann in goal. He will need no reminding that he is the 2nd mature balding USA goalie in a week to face the Magpies, but hope for a different outcome to Brad Friedl.
The rest of the formation shows flexibility, with Luton born Irishman Kevin Foley following in the footsteps of Hughton as a full back but also with a reputation in midfield. On the other flank, we expect to see George Elokobi from the Cameroon, with the travelling fans hoping that he emulates his countryman Geremi who never really made his mark at Newcastle. Mancienne has rejoined on loan from Chelsea, but should start on the bench.
Central defence should include Scottish international, Christophe Berra, as well as a former mackem under McCarthy, Jody Craddock, who also provided a threat from set pieces last season.
The nature of Wolves counter attacking threat means that there will be a defensive bias in midfield too. Ward offers versatility, former Stoke player Karl Henry being a defensive battler. David Jones provides solidity with Middlesbrough born Matthew Jarvis fully able to pose a threat on the break.
Up front, Ebanks-Blake who impressed for ManU reserves before injury, and later with Plymouth has already scored away at Everton this season. Leader of the line is impressive former Reading striker, Irishman Kevin Doyle. Ironically, just as Carroll was a Wolves target, Doyle was reputed to be a target for the Toon.
Chris Hughton will inevitably start with Steve Harper in goal already with an eye on the 20 clean sheet record of last season. Perch will be given the opportunity to stake his claim at right back, despite Ryan Taylor`s forward forays in the Carling Cup. Enrique is a fixture on the left flank.
Coloccini and Williamson have started where they left off last season, despite the quality faced at ManU, so will be also allowed to continue. Covering them will probably be Smith although it would be no surprise to see new signing, Tiote, make an appearance at some stage.
The rest of the midfield should be the unit that dominated Villa, notably goal scorer Joey Barton. Gutierrez covered well last weekend as well as posing an attacking threat, whilst Routledge will be keen to exploit the width of Molineux. Kevn Nolan looks like filling the hole, with Lovenkrands an option to provide a late attacking threat if needed.
Up front, Carroll will be enthusiastic to show why McCarthy should have bid more for him last year. Having made a promising start to wearing the number 9 shirt, he will be aware of the huge responsibility on his shoulders. Midweek scorer, Ameobi, will also want to secure his place as 12th top post-war Toon scorer, being 1 goal behind Micky Quinn in that position.
Referee for the occasion is Stuart Attwell from Warwickshire, continuing Newcastle`s recent Premier League record of having referees resident close to the home club. Attwell has attracted notoriety in the past, with a reputation for being totally erratic in the awarding and disallowing of goals.
His biggest mistake was probably failing to observe the respects requested by West Brom in memory of Sir Bobby Robson. However, he appears fair, attracting criticism even handedly from almost every side he had officiated. His only Newcastle outing was a 2-2 away draw at Wednesday on Boxing day last season, both sides having complaints about goals which should have been disallowed.
Wolves have yet to win under Attwell, having 2 draws and a defeat. It would not be a surprise if this game also ended in a draw, repeating both sides` last performance at Molineux in the Premier League.
Toon at Wolves
44 W5 D10 L29 F42 A90
34 W4 D8 L22 F31 A68
Wolves (from): Hahnemann, Foley, Craddock, Berra, Ward, Jarvis, Henry, Jones, Van Damme, Ebanks-Blake, Doyle Zubar, Fletcher, Elokobi, Stearman, Halford, Milijas, Guedioura, Edwards, Mujangi, Bia, Hennessey, Mancienne.
Newcastle (from): Harper, Krul, Perch, R Taylor, Enrique, Coloccini, Williamson, Barton, Smith, Gutierrez, Routledge, Tavernier, Nolan, Carroll, Lovenkrands, Ameobi, Ranger, Vuckic, Donaldson, Ferguson, Kadar, LuaLua.