Paul Merson predicted an easy win for Everton over Newcastle in midweek, but as we know, it didn’t quite work out like that.
Newcastle could even have won the game with late chances but a point was probably fair overall, Newcastle having more shots on target despite Everton’s overwhelming possession stat of 76.3%, their highest for 15 years.
The up to date Premier League form table (last six games) shows Newcastle fifth top with 11 points, whilst Wolves went into their midweek game rock bottom with only one point from a possible 18.
A surprise 2-1 home win over Chelsea means they now have four points from their last six matches and obviously a shot in the arm when it comes to confidence.
In games like this that involve two clubs who aren’t ‘big six’, the default for pundits/experts tends to be to go for a draw, and that is what Paul Merson has done.
However, he predicts a ‘very entertaining game’ ending in a 2-2 draw, I’m not so sure.
Obviously we all hope for an entertaining game but if there are four goals in the game it will be a surprise.
Both managers have built their season so far on solid defending, Wolves conceding 18 and Newcastle 20, in their 15 matches. Outside of the top four, only one club has conceded less than Wolves and only three (including Wolves) outside that top four have conceded less than Rafa’s team.
Wolves are 12th and Newcastle 14th at the minute and nobody in that top 14 have scored less goals than Wolves (15) or Newcastle (12). So a goal feast looks unlikely.
Only three times in 15 games have Newcastle managed two goals and Wolves have only done it five times.
Most important of all for Newcastle appears to be getting that first goal. When conceded first this season Newcastle have lost all eight games but when scoring first NUFC have only lost to Man U, picking up three wins and that draw at Everton in the other four.
Paul Merson says ‘Newcastle must come out and try to win’, well obviously we hope that this happens in every match but Rafa Benitez only has these same players available, so likely to be little significant change in tactics.
The big question is whether he will keep the three centre-backs who played so well at Everton, a similar story at Burnley when it was Clark instead of Lascelles.
If only Rafa Benitez had such positive choices/alternatives in the front third!
Paul Merson speaking to Sky Sports:
“This is a hard game to call. Newcastle were slaughtered at home by West Ham but then they go to Everton, who were very unlucky against Liverpool, and get a draw.
“It’s the same for Wolves.
“They could not win a game for toffee but then they go and get a great result after being a goal down to beat Chelsea.
“It’s so hard to predict and that’s why everybody loves the Premier League.
“I think this will be a very entertaining game.
“Newcastle must come out and try to win and Wolves play like that anyway, so I think there will be goals.
“Prediction is Newcastle 2 Wolves 2.”