Newcastle v Reading - Wednesday 19:45
Rafa Benitez has distanced himself from the here and now in his bid to reassure Newcastle fans he has everything under control, which suggests an end to the Magpies’ current rut might not be imminent just yet. Take the 14/5 on Reading to compound the current sense of frustration around St James's Park by holding out for a draw.
Nobody on Tyneside is overly concerned by defeats to Fulham and Huddersfield in the grand scheme of 46 matches and Newcastle are still worthy favourites for the title. The false start, if anything, only stresses the need for them to exercise their financial clout before the transfer window shuts and might even be a blessing in the long run.
But Benitez talked in future tense throughout his pre-match press conference for this game, as though pre-emptively drawing a line under the opening block of five matches. Judge us after the international break once we've completed all our business and everybody knows where they stand - that was the message, loud and clear.
Reading were on a hiding to nothing at Molineux on Saturday, up against a Wolves side inspired by a buoyant atmosphere following the recent £45m takeover by Fosun International. But the tension here could be much more to their liking, an ideal opportunity to portray their own fresh start under Jaap Stam in a positive light.