Newcastle United will be aiming to escape the Premier League’s bottom three at the expense of Bournemouth by continuing the Cherries’ losing streak when they meet in Saturday’s early kick-off.
The home side have lost all four of their matches in all competitions since the last international break and now lie just one place above the drop zone and a single point ahead of their opponents, so this is a critical encounter. They have struggled to compete against quality opposition in recent weeks, and although they showed some signs of improvement in the second half last time out away to local rivals Southampton, they were already effectively out of contention at 2-0 down.
What was interesting about Bournemouth at the St. Mary’s Stadium was that manager Eddie Howe veered away from his usual expansive system in favour of a more defensive approach. It did not work as they spent an overwhelming majority of the first half on the defensive with lone striker Glenn Murray isolated and lacking the pace to do any kind of damage. Josh King and Junior Stanislas made a difference after coming on so may earn starts here, but if they do, they must deliver.
Only a string of saves from Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland prevented Newcastle from lifting themselves out of the danger zone last weekend, and their failure to score in that match means they have had 36 attempts without scoring in their last two outings. With a couple of exceptions, it has largely been down to bad luck in front of goal, but after riding the inevitable early Bournemouth storm they will be intent on punishing what is the second most pourous defence in the top-flight this season.
Both of the goals Bournemouth conceded at Southampton came from crosses into the penalty area, so Aleksandar Mitrovic will fancy his chances of adding to his account here provided he gets the service he desires, while Georginio Wijnaldum has used his head to good effect lately. Moussa Sissoko starred against Stoke and appears to be regaining his best form, so Head Coach Steve McClaren will be looking to him to give the home defence a torrid time.
Bournemouth have doubts over the fitness of goalkeeper Artur Boruc and Steve Cook, who both missed the defeat at Southampton due to injury.
Rob Elliot has shaken off a minor injury and will start in goal for Newcastle, who are also boosted by the availability of full-backs Darryl Janmaat and Kevin Mbabu.