Weblog: The football punter

Wolves v Newcastle betting preview

Wolves haven't won four successive top-flight matches since 1972 and they could be denied that milestone by an improving Newcastle side who can dig out a draw at Molineux.

The fixture is a fantastic opportunity for Wolves, who have adapted superbly since their promotion from the Sky Bet Championship.

Victory would lift them four points above eighth-placed Watford and put them firmly in control of the battle to finish seventh.

They approach the game high on confidence after impressive league victories at home to West Ham (3-0) and away to Everton (3-1). However, the likelihood is that Newcastle will pose a stiffer challenge.

West Ham were way off the pace during their meek surrender at Molineux while Everton produced one of several dismal, disjointed performances this year.

Newcastle are likely to show more desire than the Hammers and will almost certainly be better organised than the Toffees, who were abysmal in defence against Wolves.

They are in the thick of a relegation battle with only a superior goal difference separating them from third-bottom Southampton but there have been no signs of panic in their recent outings.

Rafa Benitez's side were outstanding at home to Manchester City, holding their nerve and their shape despite Sergio Aguero's first-minute goal and securing a precious 2-1 victory.

And they were close to picking up another big result four days later when losing 1-0 to Tottenham at Wembley.

It was a game of fine margins at the national stadium and Newcastle came out on the wrong side with Salomon Rondon heading against the post and Martin Dubravka making a rare goalkeeping error for Heung-Min Son's late winner.

Newcastle were deflated by that result but there were plenty of positives to take from the game, including another impressive display from talented 21-year-old midfielder Sean Longstaff.

Benitez may be tempted to keep changes to a minimum but he has lots of options with record signing Miguel Almiron ready to make his debut and Karl Darlow, Sung-Yueng Ki, Paul Dummett and Mohamed Diame available after injuries.

It is probably the toughest selection Benitez has had to make all season but whichever players he chooses to start are likely to be highly motivated and aware of their responsibilities.

Wolves have better-quality players but haven't always flourished against opponents who sit in and play on the counter-attack.

Those tactics worked a treat for Watford, Huddersfield and Crystal Palace, who all achieved 2-0 victories at Molineux this season.

In the build-up to each of those defeats Wolves had been playing well, as they are now.

The key for manager Nuno Espirito Santo is to ensure his players don't repeat the same mistakes by playing an open game and allowing space for Newcastle to exploit.

It might be an occasion where Wolves have to grind out a result, as they did in December when Matt Doherty's injury-time goal gave them a 2-1 victory over ten-man Newcastle at St James' Park.

However, it is likely to be a tight affair, as is often the case with Newcastle's away matches, and there may be value in siding with the draw.


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Match in Focus

20:00 We 17Jul EURO

Tunisia v Nigeria

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
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Expert verdict
Tunisia have won only one of their six matches in 90 minutes at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations and their stubborn qualities may frustrate Nigeria in the battle for third place. The Eagles of Carthage dumped out Ghana on penalties in the last 16 and took Senegal to extra-time in the semi-finals.