Newcastle United will be after a much-needed third successive home win as they look to haul themselves out of the drop zone, but may have their work cut out against a Bournemouth side that has travelled well of late.
This game marks the beginning of a vital run of fixtures which may play a major part in deciding the Magpies’ fate this season, as meetings with fellow relegation battlers Sunderland and Norwich City lie ahead following a trip to leaders Leicester City. They will be hoping to make the most of home comforts here, as it is their abysmal away record which is keeping them in severe danger of dropping down to the second tier, with just seven points accumulated from 14 matches on the road.
Many of these have been tight games where Steve McClaren’s men have been edged out due to their inferiority in both boxes, and that was the case again at Stoke City last time out. Their only serious attempt on goal came through substitute Seydou Doumbia in the dying stages, so it is obvious where the problems lie. And now, with the bottom four in the Premier League somewhat adrift of the rest, there is the utmost pressure on Newcastle to get results quickly.
The anxiety of the home supporters here will not be eased by Bournemouth, who will quickly set about trying to torment a brittle backline with their expansive style of football, and Benik Afobe will surely get at least one chance to add to the four goals he has already scored for the club since his arrival in January. His tendency to be in the right place in the right time and poach goals means he is just the player they needed in order to pull clear of danger.
His latest contribution was netting the second in what was a famous victory over rivals Southampton on Tuesday, a game where the Cherries’ greater desire shone through, and to come away with a second straight clean sheet was also massively pleasing. If they can keep things similarly tight in defence here, Bournemouth will stand a great chance of winning and thus moving closer to retaining top-flight status, but it will all come down to which side is more effective in the wide areas.
Siem De Jong is back for Newcastle after an eye injury, but they are likely to be without captain Fabricio Coloccini and winger Andros Townsend.
Bournemouth are set to again be without Junior Stanislas, while they have concerns over fellow forward Josh King and midfielder Harry Arter.