Newcastle vs Wolves: Chris Wood scored from the penalty spot to hand the Magpies yet another impressive victory to their already-impressive turnaround at St. James’ Park on Friday.
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The victory sends Newcastle (34 points) up to 14th in the Premier League table, leapfrogging Brentford as they (briefly) pull level on 31 games played. Prior to their current run (more on that in a moment), they sat 19th in the table and looked a lost cause. They had just 12 points from their first 20 games.
Wolves, meanwhile, remain comfortable positioned in 8th place, with an eight-point gap between themselves and 9th place Crystal Palace and Leicester, though the Eagles and Foxes do have two and four games in hand, respectively.
Newcastle vs Wolves final score, stats, results
Final score: Newcastle 1, Wolves 0
Goal scorers: Newcastle (Wood 72′ – PK), Wolves (None)
Shots: Newcastle 12, Wolves 5
Shots on target: Newcastle 4, Wolves 2
Possession: Newcastle 41%, Wolves 59%
3 things we learned – Newcastle vs Wolves
1. Newcastle take the risks, earn their rewards: The opening half-hour of this game was downright ugly from the perspective that neither side appeared particularly interested in possessing the ball. Eddie Howe clearly sensed that the points were there for the taking with Wolves uncharacteristically poor, and the Magpies adjusted accordingly. The midfield pressed more aggressively, and Wood and Allan Saint-Maximin stayed a few yards higher out of possession, putting them into far more dangerous spaces to launch a quick counter-attack. Between Bruno Guimaraes, Joelinton and Jonjo Shelvey, there’s plenty of ball-winning and long-range passing in there to spring a few chances, and that they did.
2. Sluggish Wolves not even at the races: Wolves, on the other hand, never sensed the early timidness in Newcastle, never took the initiative to drive the game forward, and never looked a threat to score. It was an odd performance from Wolves, who are typically industrious and defend with true conviction — a.k.a., a nightmare to play against.
3. Safe from relegation, looking to the future: After some initial struggles, Howe has done quite well to galvanize a disjointed and downtrodden side to win seven of their last 11 Premier League games (7W-1D-3L) from mid-January onward. In games played since Jan. 21, Newcastle have won the second-most points (22) in the Premier League, behind only Liverpool (27). Even when accounting for sides with fewer games played during that stretch, the Magpies fall no lower than third in the form table, with Arsenal three points and two games fewer. Put another way, it’s form that, should they maintain it over the course of an entire 38-game season, would see them reach a mid-60s points total (when accounting for strength of opponents), which would have them near the UEFA Champions League race most seasons. An 11-game sample size isn’t everything, but 29 percent of the season isn’t nothing.