It’s payback time. Well, more or less. Eddie Howe and the lads in Black and White will host NUFC’s head coach former team Bournemouth at St James’ Park after skipping the visit to West Ham in London last weekend due to the passing of the queen. I don’t want to talk a lot about the whole “revenge game” thing because it doesn’t make sense and it’s been years since the last time Howe and AFC were linked to each other. Cold world.
One and only one very clear thing should be on the minds of every player clad in Newcastle’s stripes today: earn those freaking three points once and for all. It’s been more than a month since the last time the Magpies won a Premier League game—and that victory came against the Championship-looking Nottingham Forest, which is not the greatest of wins to claim and be too proud about.
The fact that Bournemouth has been better with a caretaker manager than it was under the guidance of Scott Parker might be concerning and threatening—to an extent, at least—but that’s no excuse for Howe’s lads to drop more points in a game that they should dominate and win without much trouble today.
St James’ Park has not seen any team other than Liverpool—with a measly 1-0 win—earn three points on it while playing away from home, so getting one point is the very minimum expectation today. That, though, would be an embarrassment for Howe and the rest of Newcastle’s staff and players. Yes, Bournemouth is tied with the Magpies in the table. But also yes, Bournemouth has conceded 18 goals in six games and if they allow NUFC to put three past them that’d make for an all-time record: 21 goals against in only seven games played.
Newcastle, as was the case last season, is finding it (very) hard to put the ball inside the goal. It’s just been seven goals in six games and no player (Callum Wilson) has scored more than two—adding wood to the fire, Wilson is now injured and out until after the international break while Sweden international Alexander Isak scored one in his debut but missed on it last time out against Palace.
We will have to wait to know about Allan Saint-Maximin’s availability after getting banged up against Wolves, and of course, ASM is the man boasting the highest assist-tally (2) among Magpies. Seriously, Newcastle haven’t truly—nor actually seem to know how to—caught a break.
The comeback against Nott. Forest that Bournemouth pulled off in their last game might scare some, but Nott. Forest is coming off another game lost 2-3 against Fulham yesterday after leading it 1-0 for 54 minutes. In other words: that comeback by AFCB might have not been so supremely great of an effort as thought-of first.
Let’s get three points, get the bodies rested and the minds cleared over the next couple of weeks full of meaningless international football, and come back fresh in October. We all need a break and we’re barely past mid-September these days. Sheesh.
FotMob.com best guess at the upcoming Starting XIs from the Magpies and the Cherries is in, so let’s go through it.
- Not Available: Emil Krafth (Knee), Jonjo Shelvey (thigh), Karl Darlow (ankle)
- Doubtful: Bruno (knock), Allan Saint-Maximin (knock), Bruno (thigh)
- Again, not a headache for Eddie Howe to decide who will be manning the goalposts this weekend—or any other weekend for the remainder of the season. It’s England international and recently called-up Nick Pope at goal.
- It looks to me like FotMob got the four-man defensive line completely right even though there are some doubts when it comes to the center-back pairing. That’s the only conundrum, but even then it feels like first-world problems all things considered.
- Easy picks when it comes to Matt Targett—now fully fit and ready to give it all for 90 minutes and change—and Kieran Trippier on both flanks. They are the clear starters and with the international break ahead there is no reason to leave any of them out of the lineup.
- With the 4-3-3 formation being the one of Howe’s preference there is always a decision to make when it comes to the center of a line that boasts three very capable players after the addition of Sven Botman this summer: the Dutch, Dan Burn, and Fabian Schar. The three defenders have already played 360+ minutes each this season and all three have appeared in at least five games while starting at least four each.
- With Bournemouth posing a little (in any at all) threat and this game being played in St James’ Park, I’m betting on the pairing of Schar and Botman manning the center of the D-line. I love Burn with a passion and will always defend him, but this looks like a great match for Sven Botman to keep building his Premier League knowledge next to Switzerland international and late call-up Fabian Schar.
- The midfield has been, along with the forwards line, the most injury-ravaged unit in Howe’s squad to date. Good for Eddie, the two-week hiatus the Premier League went through after the passing of Queen Elizabeth allowed an extended period of recovery time to the main piece of Howe’s oft-used midfield of three: Bruno Guimaraes. Also included by Tite in the latest list of names called up for international action with Brazil, everything points in the right direction for Bruno to start and play—at the very least—some 60 to 75 minutes today with a couple of weeks of rest ahead.
- One of the other two positions is expected to be filled by fellow Brazilian Joelinton and there is not much explaining to do about why that’s the case. Joelinton can do it all from defending, to short-circuit opposition attacks, to launching fastbreaks, to finishing plays on the rival’s box, etc... so he will be out there on the middle of the pitch and roaming it all this weekend.
- The remaining position should be a little bit more open. Assuming Bruno starts and plays the DM/holding role at the deepest level of the field among the trio of ballers deployed in this zone, there should be someone capable of generating danger going forward to compliment the two Brazilians. I still see Elliot Anderson as a green option more suited to second-half minutes than starting calls, but I would not be mad at him for getting into the XI. It’s down to Sean Longstaff and Joe Willock, then. And it’s the latter for me. Longstaff is hella solid, do what he’s asked to do without any glaring mistake, but that’s all he is: a dull dish in the middle of the pitch. You might find Longstaff interesting in games against sides that need to put the clamps on them, but not against Bournemouth. Newcastle needs the three points and Willock’s skill set is much more suited to an all-out, offensive effort than Longstaff is.
- Alexander Isak is the terror man up front and nothing will change that—not for now, at least. Callum Wilson is still out and Eddie Howe pretty much confirmed it with Gareth Southgate dropping the hammer and leaving him out of the England list for the two Nations League games ahead favoring former Magpie Ivan Toney instead. Until he’s back, we wait. And let Alex Isak cook.
- As long as Miguel Almirón is fit, he will feature and play as the starting right-winger for this team. There is nothing changing that, for the good or the bad. Almirón will run until he loses his breath, so there’s that.
- Doubts arise when it comes to the left wing mostly because we don’t really if Allan Saint-Maximin is fit, or if he’s not. Howe didn’t give us a single clue in yesterday’s press conference, so we have been left to guess—as is all of the AFC Bournemouth coaching staff when it comes to gameplan against NUFC, so that’s good! So this is a very black-or-white situation: ASM is fit, ASM plays; ASM is not fit, Ryan Fraser slides into the left wing. And I’m afraid the second scenario is more probable than the first one, if only for one more game before we go to bed during the international break.
CHN Predicted Lineup
DEF Trippier - Schar - Botman - Targett
MID Willock- Bruno- Joelinton
WNG Almirón - Fraser
Newcastle vs. Bournemouth
- 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)
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Howay the Lads!