Newcastle v Wolves: Sunday stalemate looks best
Dave Tindall thinks Newcastle and Wolves will play out a draw in Sunday's sole Premier League game...
"Wolves have already had three 1-1s this season while Newcastle played out that scoreline at Everton on Wednesday."
Newcastle v Wolves
Hammer blow shows Newcastle still vulnerable
I'm not sure if Rafa Benitez likes a bit of leather on willow but, if using cricket references to describe Newcastle's season, you'd say they spent the first few months eking out singles on the road but, more recently, have hit a few boundaries to get their total moving.
It remains the case that the only mention of boycott at St. James' refers to Mike Ashley rather than Geoff but three wins out of three in November - two on home soil - have lifted the Magpies into 14th place with 13 points from 15 games.
That still suggests a relegation battle and, psychologically, Rafa would love to get the win here that would make it 16 from 16 and put Newcastle bang on target for the 40-point mark - always the benchmark for sides trying to avoid the drop.
It won't be easy though. Just when Newcastle thought they'd sorted out their home problems, West Ham travelled up from the south last Saturday to gub them 3-0.
Wolves back on track
Wolves' story so far is almost a direct contrast to Newcastle's.
The men from Molineux started out brightly with just one defeat in their first eight Premier League games - a run which included four wins and 1-1 draws with Man City and Man Utd.
But they then lost five out of six, confidence being sapped to worrying levels with defeats in late November to Huddersfield and Cardiff.
Going 1-0 down at home to Chelsea on Wednesday night suggested the slide would continue but a second-half turnaround saw Nuno Espirito Santo's team claim a superb 2-1 win.
Although they're only two places above Newcastle, a win would see them stretch nine points clear of the Magpies.
Wolves marginal favourites
The betting is tight here but Wolves just shade it at [2.76] to bank all three points and condemn the hosts to a seventh home defeat out of nine this season.
Newcastle are [2.98] to triumph while The Draw - none so far at St. James' Park this season - is the outsider of the three results at [3.25].
It's their first meeting in the top-flight since 2012 and Newcastle have never lost to Wolves in the Premier League, winning two and drawing four.
They last played this fixture in the Championship in September 2016, Wolves returning back to the black country after a 2-0 win.
Wolves are the stronger team but seem set up better to play against the top sides, hence the win over Chelsea, the draws with the two Manchester clubs and Arsenal and a narrow home defeat to Spurs.
When sides have chomped at their heels a little - Huddersfield an obvious example - they haven't liked it. Rafa will be very aware what's needed here and that's why I'm siding with the draw.
Low-scoring draw looks best bet
As for what type of draw....
Wolves look to keep it tight on the road and only Cardiff have scored fewer away goals than Wanderers.
In addition, Newcastle's meagre tally of six home goals is the third lowest in the Premier League so I'll add an extra filter and say we're looking at 0-0 or 1-1.
Wolves have already had three 1-1s this season while Newcastle played out that scoreline at Everton on Wednesday. That's the preference so back 1-1 at [6.8].
Rondon better bet than Raul
In the goalscorer markets, I considered Raul Jimenez at 23/10 (Sportsbook) to find the net again after his equaliser against Chelsea. He's also scored against Spurs, Burnley and Everton but all his goals have come at Molineux.
However, I will play Salomon Rondon at 5/2 (Sportsbook).
The Venezuelan is a beast of a player and scored twice at home against another Bournemouth, another footballing side, recently.
He had eight shots in that game and touched the ball more times than any team-mate as the Cherries defence simply failed to cope with his strength.
Rondon bagged another at Everton in midweek to make it three in three so Rafa is getting a tune out of him now and this looks a good opportunity to cash in.
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has not lost any of his 22 home Premier League matches against a newly promoted club, winning his first 10 in the competition before drawing six and winning six of his last 12 such games.
Dave Tindall's P/L, 2018/19
1pt 1-1 draw at [6.8]
1pt Salomon Rondon to score at 5/2 (Sportsbook)