On the pitch, Newcastle United face Wolves at Molineux on Saturday still searching for that elusive first win of the season despite a much improved performance against Watford that would have yielded all three points but for some profligate finishing, while off the pitch, the club and owner Mike Ashley kicked off their Competition Appeal Tribunal preliminary hearing against the Premier League watched by a record number of fans in a case of this type reaching the tens of thousands across the world.
Early revelations included a January 3rd, 2022 date for the Arbitration hearing with the Newcastle United takeover by The Saudi Arabian PIF-led consortium potentially being approved if they can prove the Gulf state will not be a director of the club while The Premier League are being accused of delaying and denying a fair takeover due in part to behind the scenes influence by BeIN Sports' & "unnamed" Premier League clubs and that the Premier League even threatened to expel Newcastle United from the League.
Back to strictly football-related matters, a rocket launched from the right boot of Sean Longstaff gave The Magpies a richly-deserved lead in the 23rd minute against Watford last Saturday as the visitors to Vicarage Road dominated the game apart from an impressive double save early on from Karl Darlow:
It was to be the prevailing pattern of the game but Newcastle, despite huffing and puffing, couldn't blow The Hornet's house down & score that crucial second goal despite good chances falling to Longstaff again, Joe Willock, Ciaran Clark and - after Watford had equalised through Ismaila Sarr in the 72nd minute - Jacob Murphy, who chose to dink rather than hit the ball with any conviction this glorious last-minute chance to the chagrin of NUFC commentator & ex-player John Anderson:
Although it could have been worse until VAR denied a late Watford would-be winner, Newcastle's overall display was one of the best of the season so far and Alan Shearer was not exaggerating when he said that it could have been 5-0 but Newcastle remain one of a joint-record five Premier League clubs to still be awaiting that first win of the new season after six games:
Newcastle are still seeking a first win although often events off the field surrounding the St. James' Park club mirror those on it and Ben Jacobs' summary of Newcastle vs The Premier League hearing was a "first win of the season for Newcastle" so everyone connected with the club will be hoping victory follows on the pitch at Molineux.
Compared to the upheaval on and off the pitch at Newcastle, Wolves have enjoyed a relatively steady start to the season under new manager Bruno Lage and after beating Southampton 1-0 at St. Mary's Stadium on Sunday afternoon, find themselves 14th in The Premier League with two victories from their opening six games although they have lost the other four games narrowly to Brentford, Leicester, Tottenham and Man United.
Striker Raul Jimenez scored his first goal in a black and gold strip since that awful head injury suffered last season that looked to threaten his career initially and kept him on the sidelines for 9 months recuperation and it was actually his first Premier League goal since scoring against Newcastle in a 1-1 draw in October, 2020:
for which the striker received well-wishes from everyone around the football world:
Apart from bottom club Norwich City, who have only scored two Premier League goals this season, Wolves are the lowest scorers in the top flight having scored just three while Newcastle have scored seven goals, the highest total among teams in the bottom half, yet Lage's men have the best defence in the bottom half having conceded just five goals in their opening six games while Newcastle have let in a joint-second highest 14.
Exciting winger Adama Traore was only on the bench for Wolves' last match yet could make a return for Newcastle amid talk he is on the brink of signing a new contract at the Midlands club to ward off Liverpool and Spurs' interest in a £50M transfer while new boss Bruno Lage stressed the quality of Newcastle's attackers in his pre-match presser:
In his press conference on Friday morning, Newcastle manager Steve Bruce sidestepped questions about the NUFC takeover court case as well as football matters saying he "hasn't got a clue" about the ins and outs of the CAT case and was concentrating on trying to win at Wolves but, tellingly, corrected BBC reporter Alistair McGowan on the name of Newcastle's QC Daniel Jowell (not Justin Howell) and revealed he wouldn't be surprised at all if other big Premier League clubs had lobbied against the Saudi takeover that would make Newcastle the richest club in the world:
The Geordie manager, after revealing Saturday will come too soon for injured trio Martin Dubravka, JonJo Shelvey and Callum Wilson, paid tribute to an improving Joelinton:
and Allan Saint-Maximin, who has been nominated for The Premier League's Player of the Month award for September although faces stiff competition to win the award from the returning Cristiano Ronaldo at Man United:
Saint-Maximin was one of two Newcastle players listed in World Soccer magazine's new Top 500 Most Important Players on the Planet:
alongside new signing Santiago Munoz who was unveiled at St. James' Park and given the no. 30 shirt last night, telling fans on Twitter 'The Dream Begins' using the tag-line from the film Goal! that his fictional namesake Santiago Munez starred in:
If the hype surrounding Munoz's transfer translates into performances on the pitch then Newcastle fans are in for a treat and the dual-passport holding Mexican-American is a serious player with ambition to break through at St. James' Park & play in The Premier League and if he follows his namesake's Hollywood trajectory, will do it sooner rather than later.
Newcastle, Steve Bruce and all of the fans will be hoping they finally chalk up a win on Saturday and truly get the 2021/22 up and running after "arguably the best performance of the season" when Newcastle "had enough chances to win 2 games" at Watford and should approach Wolves with confidence after an excellent away display. FHWTL.
Prediction - Newcastle 3 Wolves 1