It was a largely anti-climactic end to Gameweek 26 as the host of popular Wolves options failed to deliver.
However, there was still enough from the newly-promoted side to suggest they can continue to secure positive results on this appealing run of fixtures they find themselves on.
We’ve assessed their key players’ performances against Newcastle in this latest Scout Notes article.
Wolves 1-1 Newcastle United
Goals: Willy Boly (£4.6m) | Isaac Hayden (£4.3m)
Assists: Adama Traoré (£5.1m) | Fabian Schär (£4.6m)
Raúl Jiménez (£6.8m) may have blanked for the first time since Gameweek 22, but he was as busy as ever in front of goal against Newcastle on Monday night. No player at Molineux matched his six shots in the penalty box, and neither did any other option in the whole of Gameweek 26. Jiménez sits top of that statistic for the entire division this weekend, level there with Wilfried Zaha (£6.7m). Unfortunately for his 32% ownership, just one of those was on target but he continues to offer the potential for assists as only Joao Moutinho (£5.3m) created more chances than him at Molineux. All of that does bode well for future Jiménez attacking returns, as Wolves continue on an appealing run of fixtures. Up next is a trip to Bournemouth before Huddersfield (away) and Cardiff (home) in Gameweeks 28 and 29 respectively.
Once again, Jiménez outperformed his colleague Diogo Jota (£6.0m) from a statistical point of view and justifying his loftier price tag in comparison. The Portuguese FPL midfielder was substituted in the 68th minute after receiving a yellow card for a coming together with Fabian Schär (£4.6m). That meant just one point in Gameweek 26 for Jota, although the appealing nature of Wolves’ run warrants keeping faith in him.
The same should be said of Moutinho who garnered transfer interest after recording five assists in the three matches prior to Gameweek 26. A match-up with Newcastle looked to be perfect for his attacking potential as no team had allowed more chances from set pieces, in which Moutinho is involved, than the Magpies between Gameweeks 22 and 25. However, the Portuguese’s delivery on Monday night was not quite up to scratch. His new owners will hope that was just a one-off.
Wolves probably should have won the game based on the balance of chances. They fashioned 22 chances to Newcastle’s nine, 16 of which were in the box and six were on target. Accordingly, they were ahead on expected goals (xG) too by a score of 2.41 to 0.43. However, they were unable to take their chances when they were on top of the game, a Rui Patrício (£4.5m) error allowing Isaac Hayden’s (£4.3m) second-half shot into the net. From that point onwards, Nuno had to go to ‘plan B’, introducing the usual suspects from the bench, Hélder Costa (£4.7m), Ivan Cavaleiro (£5.2m) and Adama Traoré (£5.1m). It was the latter whose speculative cross to the back-post in stoppage-time was nodded home by a high-rising Willy Boly (£4.6m)
“The performance deserved goals. We produced, we combined, we create situations but the final touch was not there but it something we must improve and be more clinical. The game requires that quality of the players.” – Nuno Espirito Santo
It was a disappointing night for the 25% of Fantasy managers invested in Matt Doherty (£5.4m). Patrício’s error ensured the first blank for the Irish wing-back since Gameweek 23, who was unable to play a part in Wolves’ efforts to rescue a point. It was Doherty who made way for Traoré in the 80th minute.
This was the sort of match in which Wolves defensive assets were expected to keep a clean sheet. Newcastle arrived at Molineux bottom of the league for goal attempts inside the box, efforts on target and total big chances in the four away matches prior to Gameweek 26. Obviously, Patrício’s error is partially to blame, as the Magpies failed to create a single big chance on Monday night, but Wolves continue to show better defensive strength away from home this season than in front of their away fans. At Molineux in 2018/19, they have conceded an average of 1.4 goals per league game, compared to 1.2 per away match.
The standout Fantasy asset for Newcastle was goalscorer Isaac Hayden (£4.3m) who has been making a strong case for inclusion as a fifth midfielder in recent weeks. All three of his attacking returns this season have now come in the last four Gameweeks after the 21-year-old has stepped up his performances of late. Having started the last eight in a row, Hayden is offering the potential for both goals and assists.
Of midfielders priced £4.5m or under, only Dwight McNeil (£4.4m) has created more chances than him since Gameweek 23. Jeffrey Schlupp (£4.4m), Adama Diakhaby (£4.5m) and the Burnley man are the only options from the chosen bracket to have shot more often in that time frame. Crucially, from those options, only McNeil can offer a similar healthy balance between the two statistics. With Huddersfield (home), Burnley (home), West Ham (away) and Everton (home) the next four opponents for Newcastle, there is definitely the possibility for further returns for Hayden.
Also of note is the recent performances of Schär, who picked up the assist for Hayden’s goal. Like his colleague, he now has three attacking returns in four matches, although his output feels slightly less sustainable. Schär’s pass to Hayden on Monday night was his only chance created in the last four Gameweeks, while he has shot on four occasions in that period.
Rafa Benitez continues to set his Newcastle side up to frustrate the opposition, which could easily account for the difficulties Wolves’ attacking players had on Monday night. The former Liverpool man has typically deployed 5-4-1 in recent weeks, but he went with a 4-4-2 led by Salomón Rondón (£5.7m) and Ayoze Pérez (£6.1m) at Molineux. Manchester City, Spurs and now Nuno’s newly-promoted side know how hard it can be to play against such an organised outfit. The Magpies should certainly not be overestimated when looking at upcoming opponents of our attacking assets in the final Gameweeks of the season, especially as Premier League survival is increasingly on the line for them.
New signing Miguel Almirón (£6.0m) made his debut for Newcastle when he came on for Christian Atsu (£5.1m) in the 72nd minute. He did inject some pace into the game but it might still be a short while before the former Atlanta United man gets his first Premier League start. Benitez explained after the match that he still needs to understand Newcastle’s style of play.
“We needed some fresh legs and energy and he could make the runs. He was fine. He needs to understand what we need to do.” – Rafa Benitez
Wolves XI (3-5-2): Patrício; Boly, Cody, Bennett; Jonny, Neves, Moutinho, Dendoncker (Cavaleiro 69′), Doherty (Traoré 81′); Jota (Costa 69′), Jiménez.
Newcastle United XI (4-4-2): Dubravka; Lejeune, Lascelles, Schär, Yedlin; Atsu (Almirón 72′), Longstaff, Hayden (Diamé 86′), Ritchie; Pérez (Manquillo 90+1′), Rondón.