It feels like the last time we watched Premier League football Scott Parker was still kicking balls in the middle of Craven Cottage. That’s entirely wrong, though, or at least partly. Scott Parker was the one kicked out a few weeks ago, Craven Cottage is enjoying much better football than the one played by Bournemouth at Dean Court, and in fact, the last match both clubs played happened on September 3rd. It’s been more than two weeks of rest! And the worst is still ahead! Oh, dear...
Anyway, let’s keep calm and stay positive, enjoying this little sport some call soccer while we can. After a weekend of postponements because of the death of Queen Elizabeth II football is finally back—even though gentlemen seemingly would have preferred to play the good boy role rather than the macho one and to stay away from pitches.
Other than a couple of high-stakes games involving matches scheduled to take place in London and Manchester (?) everybody got the green light to go ahead with their MD8 affairs. So Newcastle avoided flying to London to face West Ham last weekend and will now entertain the Geordie folks at the comfy confines of St James’ Park. Couldn’t it always be this way, gents?
So instead of having to fight for three free points against 18th-place WHU it’s now about to be a battle for three half-gifted points against 13rd-place, no-manager-yet-still-improving AFCB.
I was happy with Newcastle’s start to the season because well, it’s not that you get to start campaigns without conceding a single goal in the first two games, drawing 3-3 with the reining champions, and finally are able to wrap it all up with a win in the first EFL Cup game. That was an impressive two-week span for the Men in Black, but what came after that wasn’t that great.
A tie against Wolves, a last-minute (laaaaast... minute) defeat against Liverpool, and another one-point game against Crystal Palace are far from the best possible outcome to extract from a three-game run compressed into a seven-day span.
There is the obvious positive view of having lost once in six games, but there is also the negative of not having won any game since the first of them all—against newly promoted Nott Forest of all clubs. The narrative surrounding the Magpies and that being written about the Cherries these days cannot be more diverse.
The Geordies are enjoying a good-not-great-but-still-positive start to the campaign and still signing players from everywhere. The Cherries were promoted (good!) only to fire their manager (bad!) after conceding 13 goals and scoring only two in their first four games back in the English top-flight division.
The truth, though, is that both teams are just even and boasting exactly the same seven points in the Premier League table with six games in the books and one postponed—and both clubs having faced Man. City and Liverpool. So, can it be said that Newcastle is in such a good position right now, or that Bournemouth is in such a bad one judging by how folks are making it look? Not sure, if you ask me.
Eyes closed, and before the 2022/23 season kicked off in early August, most Bournemouth fans would have signed on the dotted line to get exactly zero points from their games against City, Pool, and Arsenal in three of their first four games. In fact, getting three points out of those first four contests was probably the most they could ask for—and they got them.
Newcastle dominated City but ultimately bit the dust and had to conform with a point on a 3-3 draw. Newcastle played Liverpool to a draw for 117 minutes of playing time but ultimately had to go to sleep with no points at all. One could argue getting one point against then-Potterish Brighton was a stroke of luck, and that the ties against Wolves and Crystal Palace could have ended on more positive notes, but alas. Here we are.
Seven points for the Magpies, six for the Cherries, and a very (very) long season still ahead.
And hey, even more worryingly for a Newcastle team in the need of an instant boost by the way of a win, is the fact that AFCB has earned four of six available points in the past two games while the poor Magpies had to conform with one of six. Math 101 taught me that’s a 66% return for Bournemouth and a putrid 16% for Newcastle.
Want more? The Magpies are one of three teams (Leicester, Everton) without a W in the past five games. They are the only top-15 team on that streak. Congratulations if you’re a Cherry reading this preview. There are more than a few reasons for you to have high hopes of celebrating a nice result from this weekend’s game, to say the least.
First things first, Bournemouth is entering the weekend with a few banged-up players in the likes of Joe Rothwell, Benjamin Pearson, and David Brooks—all seemingly out until after the international break. Junior Stanislas might play against his former manager Eddie Howe, although he’s coming off a groin injury so we’ll have to wait a bit more to know if he’s available and ready to play or not.
Scott Parker, former manager of the Cherries, bitched a lot about the lack of signings by Bournemouth this summer in order to strengthen the squad for their Premier League return. It’s not hard to see his sacking coming though, as he was quoted saying heavy stuff such as labeling his team “short of where [it] needs to be”, “barely [having] any defenders”, and saying that “I can see some more [defeats like the 9-0 against Liverpool happening], to be honest with you.“ No bueno, sir.
At the end of the day, Parker was given five new players to work with—two of them costing the club more than €10 million to sign—including folks from top-tier clubs such as Feyenoord and Barcelona. Yes, veterans like Gary Cahill and Robbie Brady departed the organization, but it’s not that Bournemouth lost 15+ players like fellow PL newcomers from Nottingham.
Tavernier came with a high fee attached to him and while he has yet to score he’s at least played the third-most minutes of all AFCB players through six games only behind Jefferson Lerma and Chris Mepham. Neto, Senisi, and Frederick have appeared in two each. Rockwell and Stephens have yet to make their debuts this season.
The recent history between these two isn’t that recent because of Bournemouth getting relegated to the Championship by the end of the 2019/20 campaign. Their last meeting took place in July 2020 when the Magpies demolished the Cherries' four goals to one.
The last time Bournemouth defeated Newcastle in a two-game, Premier League series was back in the 2017/18 season when the Cherries earned four of the six points up for grabs after winning and then drawing in their affairs with NUFC.
Two weeks ago when previewing the game against Crystal Palace, I noticed one thing very easy to spot: both Palace and Newcastle hardly ever scored more than one goal in their games against each other. This is definitely not a matchup like that one, though.
Newcastle and Bournemouth have nearly always offered high entertainment to those watching them go against the other one, both at St James Park and at Dean Court. You have to go all the way back to Nov. 2017 (nearly five years ago) to find a one-goal game between these two, and even further down the timeline to find a no-goal draw: there is only one such precedent in the 1992 (!!!) FA Cup.
In other words: expect goals, and most probably, goals galore.
Or should you? Judging by the statistics posted by both Newcastle and Bournemouth this season, odds are there are goals but not a lot of them. No player has bagged twice for AFCB so far, and only one (Callum Wilson, injured) has done so for NUFC. So tame your expectations a bit, please, and don’t say we didn’t warn you when the ref blows the final whistle!
Dominick Solanke and Lloyd Kelly arrived at Bournemouth aged 20 and while not OG Academy Graduate Cherries they joined the club at a young-enough age to consider them part of the organization’s homegrown talents. They are the ones carrying the team forward entering their prime years, and it shows.
Jefferson Lerma, hailing from El Cerrito on Colombian ground, has also turned into a monster performer for Bournemouth and has logged 2,500+ minutes of playing time and at least 30 games played for the club in all four seasons he’s spent in England leading up to this one. Lerma, a never-resting ball-winning midfielder, might not be the flashiest of players out there but comes equipped with a Jeep-manufactured engine and would have no problem logging 100 minutes per game instead of the regular 90.
Along with Ryan Christie on attacking duties through the middle of the park, these two—with fellow Cherries Solanke and Lloyd—might be the players Newcastle will need to put the clamps on if they don’t want to suffer another setback in their run to get into European-football positions by the end of this season.
Don’t believe the hype about Newcastle, nor the folks playing Bournemouth down to the ground. These two are on much more equal terms than some people out there would lead you to think.
The best and very welcomed news surrounding Newcastle will be the expected return of Allan Saint-Maximin and Bruno to the field after long recovery periods aided by the postponement of last weekend's games. Isak had also shown a little bit of tiredness of late, so the extended rest should have done him good too.
Another not-so-easy game ahead for the Lads, though this is the type of match you have to authoritatively win if you really want to make the jump and become a serial, week-in-week-out scary team.
When and Where’s flowin’
- Date: Saturday, September 17th
- Kick-off: 15:00 BST / 10:00 EST / 8:00 PST
- Location: St James Park, Newcastle (England)
- TV: Talksport 2 Radio UK (UK), Universo, Peacock, USA Network (USA), fuboTV (Canada)
For all your international watching needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com.
How’s it goin’
Coming Home, Crystal Ball: Newcastle 3-0 Bournemouth
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Howay the Lads!