Newcastle vs Wolves predictions: Lopetegui's men can take another positive step
- Newcastle have won only one of their last eight Premier League games
- Wolves have taken 17 of their 27 points from their 11 games under Julen Lopetegui
- Recommended bet: Back the draw
Newcastle's first full season under new ownership has been largely positive but they have dropped out of the Premier League top four and will be targeting a strong finish to the season, starting with the home match against Wolves.
Qualifying for the Champions League remains a realistic target for the Magpies, while Wolves are solely focused on accumulating enough points to stave off relegation.
Wolves have improved under Julen Lopetegui and head to the north east looking to build on last Saturday's 1-0 victory at home to Tottenham.
Joelinton starts a two-match ban for Newcastle after totting up 10 Premier League yellow cards.
Defenders Harrison Ashby (hamstring) and Emil Krafth (knee) are unavailable and winger Ryan Fraser continues to be out of favour as he continues to train with the club's Under-21s.
Long-term Wolves absentees Sasa Kalajdzic and Chiquinho are recovering from serious knee injuries and are unlikely to feature before next season.
Boubacar Traore is recovering from groin surgery and Hugo Bueno (hamstring) faces a spell on the sidelines.
There is more positive news regarding Hwang Hee-Chan (thigh), who has an outside chance of being involved, but Diego Costa (knee) is a major doubt after he was stretchered off last weekend.
Newcastle have won just one of their last eight Premier League games to leave themselves outside of the top four.
They are the lowest scorers among the top nine and have not scored more than once in any of their last eight league fixtures.
Eddie Howe's side have lost their last three fixtures by a 2-0 scoreline and have conceded the first goal in four consecutive matches.
Wolves have taken 17 points in 11 matches since the World Cup which averages out at 1.55 points per game.
Prior to the World Cup, they had mustered 10 points in 15 matches at 0.67 points per game.
Going into this weekend's fixtures, they were the division's joint-lowest scorers with just 19 goals.
Wolves have been a lot tougher to beat since appointing Julen Lopetegui and they can enhance their survival chances by taking a point at St James' Park.
Lopetegui arrived at a club rooted to the foot of the table and has lifted them to 13th with the help of some smart January signings.
Winter arrivals Craig Dawson, Mario Lemina and Pablo Sarabia quickly established themselves as key members of the team and were in the starting XI for last weekend's vital 1-0 win at home to Tottenham.
Since Lopetegui's arrival, Wolves have shown no fear against the big teams and they are unlikely to sit back against a Newcastle side which seems to be struggling to come to terms with raised expectations.
Defensive excellence has underpinned Newcastle's strong season, but the Magpies have lacked a cutting edge in recent weeks with centre-forward Callum Wilson scoring just once since the World Cup and top scorer Miguel Almiron netting only once in his last 13 appearances.
Newcastle have drawn 11 of 24 league games this season and might struggle to break down Wolves, who held them to a 1-1 at Molineux in August.
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