Newcastle United travel to Molineux Stadium on Monday night to face an in-form Wolves side, who are looking for their fourth consecutive win in the league.
Wolves have scored 10 goals in their last three matches, trouncing and perhaps shocking Everton, West Ham and Leicester.
These results have seen Wanderers rise to seventh in the table, and they’re now hopeful they can qualify for a spot in Europe.
The Toon are arguably facing them at the worst possible time, but Rafa Benitez should still be relishing the fixture.
Despite Wanderers beating the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham this season, they’ve struggled against sides in the bottom half of the table.
Wolves poor record against PL strugglers
Surprisingly, Wolves have failed to beat any of the bottom three this season.
At the end of November last year the Wanderers fell to consecutive defeats against struggling sides Huddersfield and Cardiff.
Wolves have the distinction, along with Fulham, of being one of the only sides in the league to lose to Huddersfield.
Wolves also drew against Fulham on Boxing Day, meaning against the bottom three so far, they have taken just one point.
Against the top three sides in the league (Man City, Liverpool, Spurs) they have taken four points so far.
So why is it that Wolves struggle against the bottom teams but pull off regular upsets against the top sides?
The answer is probably due to their huge threat on the counter attack.
Wing-backs Jonny and Matt Doherty allow the team to break away with pace, and the passing range of deep-lying midfielders Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho means they stay compact in the middle.
When teams like Spurs or Chelsea dominate the possession, they often leave themselves at risk to effective counter play.
It was counter attacks that undid Newcastle in their home fixture against Wolves, and they must not make the same mistake again.
Wolves clearly struggle when they are on the front foot and not the underdog.
Benitez must set his team up to frustrate on Monday evening, and stick to the game plan.
Newcastle must replicate Burnley victory
In Newcastle’s previous Monday night away game, Benitez first debuted his now consistent five at the back formation.
At the time, it was a stroke of genius and Newcastle gave one of their best performances of the season.
While Burnley charged forward on home turf, the Toon sat back. This allowed the new-look Magpies to adeptly counter, particularly through Matt Ritchie in a new left back role.
They emerged victors in a 2-1 away win, and they must now repeat the Monday feat at the Molineux.
If Newcastle keep their temperament against Wolves and sit deep, they may well see similarly positive results.
Wolves’s attacking wing-backs means there will be plenty of space for Newcastle to exploit throughout the match.
It could even be a good opportunity to give new signing Miguel Almiron his debut for the club.
His speed and creativity are best suited to counter-attacking football and he could prove a huge asset against Wolves.
Away supporters will certainly be desperate to see the midfielder in action, but it remains to be seen how Newcastle will line up for the clash.