Newcastle v Wolves: Magpies test gives Nuno's side chance to extend run

Wolves finally have consistency and momentum behind them – and something from Newcastle would make it their longest unbeaten run of the season.

Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo (centre left) greets Adama Traore
Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo (centre left) greets Adama Traore

A point or more at St James’ Park tomorrow night would make it five matches without defeat in the Premier League.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side appear well-placed to achieve that feat, too.

That is not to say this past month has been without its fair share of difficulties for Wolves.

The FA Cup exit at the hands of Southampton still stings and there have been more injury problems along the way – Willy Boly and Daniel Podence are likely to miss this clash with the struggling Magpies, and Fernando Marcal’s condition is uncertain after picking up another problem against Leeds.

But Nuno has found a system which, so far, has worked a treat.

Playing Pedro Neto and Adama Traore as inverted wingers has not only benefitted those two players, but it has also saw Wolves become a more cohesive unit.

With Neto and Traore now driving inside from the flanks and getting into more effective positions, centre forward Willian Jose – hoping to get off the mark in the north east – is no longer isolated.

Midfield duo Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho have more options to pass to, and the wing-backs have greater licence to express themselves.

Jonny Castro Otto has not missed a beat since returning from ACL surgery, although he is yet to complete a full 90 minutes while gradually worked back to full fitness.

Nelson Semedo, meanwhile, has started to show why Wolves paid so much money to bring in from Barcelona last summer.

The top form of Rui Patricio, stepping up between the sticks and showing his class, has helped considerably as well.

In the victory over Leeds last time out, gone was the knack of sitting back and looking to step things up in the second half.

Nuno had clearly instructed his players to attack from the off, and it resulted in one of the most complete 90 minutes they have put in this campaign.

And while Newcastle are far more conservative in their approach than Marcelo Bielsa’s men, perhaps that is the way for Wolves to go again.

After all, Steve Bruce’s lot are low in confidence and, in 17th, just three points above the drop zone following Fulham’s recent upturn in results.

Key striker Callum Wilson is out injured and they have also, most notably, not won a single match after falling behind throughout this term.

Wolves successfully fought fire with fire against Leeds, and now it might well be a case of not falling into the Magpies’ defensive-minded trap – as they did at Molineux in the reverse fixture, when Jacob Murphy scored a late free-kick to snatch a point.

The onus very much appears to be on flying out of the traps and getting it won early if the opportunity presents itself.

There does not seem to be any need to make a change to the starting line-up either – though young Fabio Silva may start to feel he should get another chance up front if Jose’s goalless steak carries on much longer.

Three points on Tyneside would make February a month to look back on fondly and stand Wolves in good stead for a testing March, which starts with a trip to champions-in-waiting Manchester City.

Then come clashes with Villa and Liverpool, before hosting surprise package West Ham.

Wolves, of course, have got to make the long journey and get the job done tomorrow night, but there are reasons for optimism going into this.

Certainly a lot more than there were a few weeks ago, anyway.

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