Wolves v Newcastle: Benitez's boys have motivation to claim a point at least
Despite some good recent results, Newcastle are only out of the bottom three on goal difference - and that need for points makes them a wager on Monday night, says Joe Dyer...
"Betfair punters have been gently nibbling at Wolves all week and from [1.88] they are now in to [1.72]. That move is easy to understand given their good run of results, lofty position in the table and status as the home side, but on the flip side I have to point to poor home form which reads: six wins, two draws and five defeats."
Wolves v Newcastle
Monday February 11
Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Wolves showing their teeth
Wolves look a real danger to any side right now. They come into the game having won their last three fixtures and a smattering of other notable recent results when we cast the net a little further, including defeats of Spurs and Liverpool (the latter in the FA Cup).
The league table shows them in seventh, four clear of Bournemouth but a full 12 behind sixth-placed Arsenal, and the goal should be to maintain that league placing through to the final day.
Of course, given the funds layed out by the club's Chinese owners Fosun International, a degree of success was expected but it doesn't always transpire that spending money guarantees that and, all in all, it is a happy picture at Molyneux right now.
The team news is positive save for one potential fly in the ointment, Wolves' small but settled squad is largely fit but there is a doubt about Diogo Jota which would be a loss. The Portuguese midfielder has scored all five of his Premier League goals since December including a hat-trick against Leicester in mid-January. For a club that doesn't score many his absence would be keenly felt.
Newcastle battling hard in relegation fight
Newcastle keep on scrapping for their Premier League survival and they come into this game on a relatively good run of form. Yes, they were beaten at Wembley last time out but it was another late show from Tottenham and don't forget that Manchester City and Cardiff were beaten in the games that preceded it. The six points seized from those three games matches their haul through the previous nine.
And even though the points return from that run looks bad, the 2-1 and 2-0 scorelines from defeats to Chelsea and Manchester United show that the Toon were rarely being rolled over.
Results have gone against Newcastle this weekend, however, and they go into the game 17th in the table, out of the drop zone only on goal difference, despite those good recent results.
Apart from the long-term injured pair of Jonjo Shelvey and goalkeeper Rob Elliot, the entire Newcastle first-team squad is fit and available to Rafa Benitez.
Wolves strong favourites but are they value?
Betfair punters have been gently nibbling at Wolves all week and from [1.88] they are now in to [1.72]. That move is easy to understand given their good run of results, lofty position in the table and status as the home side, but on the flip side I have to point to poor home form which reads: six wins, two draws and five defeats. That is hardly overwhelming stuff especially against a gritty side led by a canny coach that is scrapping for its top-flight survival.
Against a good ball-playing side, I expect the visitors to follow the blueprint we saw at Spurs - cede possession, frustrate and look to break.
Backing Newcastle - winners of just two fixtures from their 12 away trips this season - at [6.0] is pushing it a bit, but the draw at [3.85] is more appealing. Benitez's side have shared the points in five of those 12 games.
You can get both the win and draw onside by backing the visitors in the Double Chance market at [2.34]. That looks the bet to me, Newcastle have shown themselves to be in good form and can be competitive against the best. They also have the motivation of battling against the drop. Benitez knows that any points gained here could prove to be invaluable in the relegation dogfight.
Unders a warm favourite in goals betting
This is not a high-scoring pair of teams and the over/under 2.5 goals market is priced-up accordingly, the low total available to back at [1.75] and the high total at [2.3]. I'd certainly lean towards unders but I'm not sure I could take that price.
Back Newcastle in the Double Chance market @ [2.36]