The Premier League Asia Trophy kicks off as Wolves and Newcastle face up in the first semi final of the pre-season tournament. With the winner of this match going on to face either Man City or West Ham on Saturday in Shanghai, in what is being seen as a great opportunity to showcase the Premier League’s high standards across Asia. This competition will really be the kickstarting of all four team’s pre-season, especially for Wolves who have a Europa League qualifying campaign to get their teeth into very soon.
Trials and tribulations have really surrounded Newcastle’s summer, with the departure of much-loved Rafael Benitez, the summer has been clouded by gossip and rumours about the new manager and who it would be. Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has really been at the forefront of much criticism and his style of running the club has been extremely criticised. With front runners including the likes of Steve Bruce, Roberto Martinez and Mikel Arteta most fans are already worried for a tough season ahead. With many claiming it was Benitez’s leadership and tactical knowledge which kept them safe last season. Academy coaches Ben Dawson and Neil Redfearn have been overseeing most of pre-season and I’d expect them to be in charge come Wednesday.
Wolves on the other hand have had quite a quiet summer so far, they’ve been linked with players here, there and everywhere. However, they’re still yet to dip their hand into the market and recruit some of the highly-rated personal that they’ve been linked with. With plenty of time left before the start of next season, you’d expect Nuno Esporito Santo and his board to invest and build on what was a fantastic return season last year. As I mentioned earlier, they’ve got a huge reward in their first European campaign for almost forty years.
Newcastle have travelled fairly heavily with squad numbers as they look to determine their base squad coming into the Premier League season. With star striker Salomon Rondon heading back to West Brom and want-a-way striker Dwight Gayle returning to the fray, it’ll be interesting how they lined up on Wednesday. Most eyes will be on Manchester United target Sean Longstaff, as both he and Manchester United look to seal a move. The young English midfielder was one of very few bright sparks last season and Newcastle will be desperate to hold onto him.
As I said previously, Wolves have been very quiet in the transfer market so far. They’ve let Ivan Cavaleiro and Helder Costa go out on loan but haven’t recruited in the other direction. They’ve been involved with loads of the top transfer targets this summer, including controversial Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, however no deals are yet to be done. They will be without star striker Raul Jimenez as the Mexican has been given additional leave following his nations success in the Gold Cup. This tournament really will be the perfect time for Nuno Esporito Santo to prepare for the Europa League qualifiers coming up just next week, so I’d expect to see a strong side play here. He will be looking to rotate players around and see what his best combination is.
With this being one of the last chances to impress the backroom staff, you’d expect many a player to put his hand up for contention this season. I’m expecting this to be a fairly open match and Both Teams to Score @ 1.83 looks a great price to me. Alongside that, with all the drama and controversy surrounding Newcastle, who knows where their heads will be, for this reason I’d also get behind the Wolves Win @ 1.95. If this was a Premier League match last season, you’d have expected a slightly higher price, but considering the turmoil at Newcastle, you’d hope Wolves would be focusses and get the job done.
For Goal-Scorers, I’ve got two that I like the look of, first up is Wolves talismanic attacker Diego Jota, who you can back at 2.87, the Portuguese man really did step up for Wolves last season and I’m expecting him to build on that starting here. Another player I fancy is the returning Dwight Gayle, I’m not 100% sure if he will be starting, so don’t fancy him as much as Jota, but @ 3.40, the Englishman can be very prolific.