Newcastle United play host to Wolves on Friday night, and I’ve picked out three selections for a Bet Builder.
After months of fretting about their Premier League status, a remarkable run between January and March looks to have secured the Toon’s place in the top flight for next season.
The embarrassing FA Cup exit to Cambridge was the nadir of Newcastle’s season. Movement in the transfer window was slow and they’d still only won one of 19 Premier League games.
But what a turnaround it has been for Eddie Howe’s men since. For the following eight games – which started with a draw at home to Watford remember, causing even more alarm – only Liverpool took more points than Newcastle.
They’d gone from averaging less than 1xG and nearly 2xGA per game to averaging more than 1xG and slightly more than 1xGA per game.
A remarkable improvement, and despite Burnley’s late win against Everton bringing Newcastle to within seven points having played a game more, the Magpies can feel confident of another season in the Premier League.
However results of late have put paid to the notion of them making a late push for the top half, losing to Chelsea, then to an Everton side who’d picked up just three points in nine games (and have lost both games since), and last Sunday’s drubbing by Tottenham.
Meanwhile for visitors Wolves, they remain in the hunt for European football next season but are looking like coming up just short.
The crazy game against Leeds three Fridays ago will no doubt still sting, having led 2-0 at half time with Leeds players dropping like flies, only to lose 3-2. But they bounced back well after the break to beat Aston Villa 2-1.
They still have a home game with Manchester City as well as trips to Anfield and Stamford Bridge, so if Wolves are to embark on another European endeavour, tonight’s match may well be a must-win for Bruno Lage’s side.
They do have a bit of history on their side – Wolves haven’t failed to score a league goal at St James’ Park since 1991 when the evergreen John Burridge kept Steve Bull at bay in a 0-0 draw.
Clearly, Fabio Silva is no Bully; the eye-watering £35m transfer fee weighing heavy on his shoulders, but anybody who watched that win at Molineux last week against Aston Villa would’ve seen a different striker from the one earlier in the season.
Since mid-January, Silva’s averaging a shot every 25 minutes and with that in mind, I can sense his first goal of the campaign is just around the corner.
I never thought I’d say this – yes, I’m aware he scored in both games against the Albion last season – but Fabio Silva Anytime is where I’m starting.
Fan favourite Allan Saint-Maximin loves a dribble, but he’s also not afraid of having a shot either, averaging almost two a game, and the flamboyant Frenchman may well put on a show in front of the cameras – he’s my second pick, with him taking Over 1.5 Shots in the match.
Referee Peter Bankes is averaging over five bookings per game in the Premier League this season, and he’s issued 16 cards in the three games he’s taken charge of involving Newcastle and Wolves; I’m looking at that trend continuing with Over 4 Cards in this clash to complete my Bet Builder, boosted from 15/2 to 12/1.
Fabio Silva To Score Anytime - 13/5
Allan Saint-Maximin Over 1.5 Shots - 4/7
Over 4 Cards - 10/11
By Steve Freeth