Newcastle v Wolves, TOTT Preview
Newcastle are thrown to the Wolves in the 6th consecutive 6 pointer, in a Saturday 3pm kick off at home. In a week when Pardew hit out at internet negativity, TOTT looks for the positive signs.
Of course, a win for Wolves brings another team below the Toon within striking distance, but let`s ignore that. Newcastle have not won a Premier League Saturday 3pm home kick off since Keegan was manager, but that sort of run has to end some time.
Similarly, Pardew has experienced an indifferent run with Newcastle since the last home win, almost 3 months ago against his former club, West Ham. 1 win in 10 games in all competitions is an achievement to be proud of, and is in fact in keeping with his previous two teams in part seasons, at Charlton and West Ham, with who he achieved a higher points per game average.
Looking at the games since mid February, the Toon are one of 4 teams to have gained only 1 point, with a worse goal difference than Birmingham, Blackburn and Sunderland. However, a win will make all the difference. It should be remembered that Pardew`s 3 other wins were all against clubs currently in the bottom 4, where Wolves are now despite having achieved 7 more points over the same 6 week period.
The visiting manager, Mick McCarthy, has developed an efficient, hard working team. They achieved survival against the odds last season and were highlighted by the Newcastle officials during last summer as an example to aspire to in the short term. McCarthy was of course in charge of near neighbours Sunderland, so will expect a warm welcome.
Trying to emulate, or even exceed his predecessor`s performance with a 1-1 draw down at Molineux, team selection becomes interesting. Steve Harper will obviously continue in goal.
Defensively, being positive, things could not be worse than against Stole, so Simpson might fully expect to revert to his right back role, with Steve Taylor available if Simpson is shifted to the left. Taylor can only do better than he did against Everton.
Coloccini and Williamson are the obvious centre pairing, with Pardew hinting during his big Radio Newcastle interview that the left back slot, if Enrique has not recovered, is between Shane Ferguson and the soon to be suspended James Perch. The young Irishman is therefore favourite, particularly since Newcastle`s last 3 home wins against Wolves have come when an Irishman has scored, David Kelly and Tommy Cassidy twice. Perch has only been on the winning side once in 13 appearances this season.
The midfield focus will be on Barton who was attacked mercilessly in the away fixture. Nolan is a fixture as the leading scorer still on Newcastle`s books this season. Jonas should expect a return on the left. Tiote`s absence through suspension leads to a variety of options being considered. Ireland could be fit for his debut, Barton could play in the middle or Guthrie could make a return.
With Best seemingly ruled out for the rest of the season, Shola will hope to lead the line, with Lovenkrands the man in possession of a starting shirt. Ranger must wonder what he has to do to start with Kuqi also seeking his first Premier League goal for almost 5 years.
Wolves have problems of their own, but only up front with one time Newcastle target Doyle injured. Otherwise the team will be unchanged from their last away win against Villa. In goal where young Welsh keeper, Hennessy will hope to maintain his form shown in the 2nd half against England last weekend.
The back line hope to be no joke with and Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman, in the shape of Stearman, Foley and Berra, supplemented by attacking Cameroonian left back, George Elokobi.
New England cap and alleged summer target for Pardew, Matt Jarvis should prove a useful scouting mission for home supporters, with Hammill on the opposite flank already proving a handful for Barnsley last season against the Mags. Jamie O`Hara is another who could have ended up in the black and white after s at Portsmouth with Mike Williamson. All eyes will also be on Karl Henry, but for different reasons given his performance at Molineux.
Up front, scorer in the away fixture Ebanks-Blake is set for a start, which could bring him up against old pal, Danny Simpson. Serbian Nenad Miljnas will be in support.
Referee for the occasion is Mike Dean, in charge for home and away victories against Londoon clubs Arsenal and west Ham, as well as an away defeat against Midlanders West Brom. Wolves have the full complement of results under him so far with a home defeat against lowly Wigan, home win against Man City and an away draw with West Brom, possibly the result most likely to be repeated.
A quick look back through the history books shows a draw to be the most common result in the last 37 years, although McCarthy has the edge over Pardew in more recent fixtures.
Being positive, as Pardew requests, there are a number of sequences to be broken some time. That positivity extends to a poor result potentially bringing forward the demise of the least successful permanent manager in Newcastle`s top flight history. This could ultimately prove to be the Toon`s biggest game of the season.
Newcastle v Wolves at home
P43 W23 D12 L8 F95 A53
P34 W21 D7 L6 F85 A41
Newcastle (from): Harper, Krul, Simpson, Ferguson, Enrique, Coloccini, Williamson, Campbell, S. Taylor, Perch, Barton, Nolan, Gutierrez, Guthrie, Vuckic, Richardson, Lovenkrands, Ameobi, Ranger, Kuqi.
Wolves (from): Hennessey, Foley, Stearman, Berra, Elokobi, Hammill, Henry, Milijas, Jarvis, O'Hara, Ebanks-Blake, Hahnemann, Ward, Kightly, Craddock, Fletcher, Jones, Hunt, Mancienne, Mouyokolo.