After our first win of the season last weekend, we can finally come into a game at St James’ Park with a genuine spring in our step – but underestimate our opposition and we’ll not be so lucky this time around.
The Watford win included certain things we’ve lacked all season – fight, grit, determination and luck. It may have been a well earned win last weekend, but we’d be lying if we didn’t admit that they’d have won that comfortably had they taken their chances.
We can’t afford to give Bournemouth the same sort of openings this time around – especially when we look set to be without two key players in Lascelles and Shelvey, with us up against a side who’ve won their last two league away games 0-3 and 0-4.
They are enjoying their best start to a Premier League season, are full of pace and energy and have one of the most in-form attackers in the league up top in Callum Wilson. He, Fraser, King and Brooks have scored 16 goals between them in the league already this season – which is over double what we’ve managed as a team in our 10 games so far.
Muto, Shelvey and Lascelles all look set to miss out, but, fortunately, all three of their likely replacements will be coming into this one full of confidence after impressive second-half cameos against Watford last time out.
Perez (Muto’s replacement) came on and scored the winner, Ki (Shelvey’s replacement) turned the game on its head and looked a class act from midfield and Schar (Lascelles’ replacement) put in a monstrous display from the back, bullying Watford’s strikers and looking extremely confident on the ball.
Let’s hope they can all have the same impact this time around. We may need them to if we want to earn a similar outcome against this in-form Bournemouth side.
As ever, here’s the team I’d like to see, followed by the side I expect Rafa to go with:
Rondon proved his fitness after unexpectedly seeing out the entire 90 minutes last weekend, so he’ll start again – and with Muto set to miss out, Perez will almost certainly be recalled by Rafa. Let’s hope he can take confidence from last weekend’s winner and put in a much improved all-round display.
With Shelvey also out, Ki Sung-yueng looks nailed on to replace him in midfield alongside Mo Diame. This would’ve been a real concern a few weeks ago, but his game changing cameo last weekend has filled us all with hope that he can come in and do the business in Jonjo’s absence.
Kenedy and Ritchie seem pretty nailed on (although we need to see much more from the latter for me), but there’ll be a rare change to Benitez’s back five.
With Rafa confirming that it will be ‘difficult’ for Lascelles to recover in time for this one after aggravating a shoulder injury last weekend, Fabian Schar looks set to be handed what will be only his second league start of the season.
Hopefully he can come in and perform as he did against Watford. He didn’t put a foot wrong last time we saw him, winning all of his battles and being particularly impressive on the ball, so we’ll be in safe hands if he can continue that sort of form.
(4-4-1-1) – Dubravka – Yedlin, Schar, Fernandez, Dummett – Ritchie, Ki, Diame, Kenedy – Perez – Rondon.
Here’s a few ‘ones to watch’ in this in-form Bournemouth side:
Callum Wilson (ST): Recently called up to the England squad for the first time and rightly so, with him bagging an impressive 6 goals and 4 assists so far this season. He’ll be a handful and a real hard worker up top for the visitors.
Ryan Fraser (LM): Full of energy, pace and a winger whose first thought will be to run at his man. He’s been described as the ‘Scottish Messi’ and has an impressive tally of 3 goals and 5 assists so far this season – meaning he’s been involved in more goals than we’ve scored as a team!
Lerma (CDM): A player many may not have noticed so far this season, however he does a vital job in screening that Bournemouth defence while all others attack. The Colombian cost them £25m over the summer and is perhaps the signing they’ve been needing to make for a few years now.
Predicted Bournemouth XI – (4-2-3-1) Begovic – Francis, Cook, Ake, Smith – Lerma, Cook – Stanislas, Brooks, Fraser – Wilson.
Rafa has all but confirmed that Jonjo Shelvey, Jamaal Lascelels and Yoshinori Muto will miss out, with Florian Lejeune also out as he continues his comeback from a cruciate knee ligament injury.
For Eddie Howe, Joshua King is back in training and facing a late fitness test after three weeks out.
If I’m being brutally honest, I can’t see us getting anything from this unless we tighten up at the back and show a little bit more going forward. We may have got a clean sheet last time out, but Watford would’ve had a few goals at least if they’d had their shooting boots on last weekend.
If Schar and Ki can come in and perform and we can match Bournemouth’s intensity then we have every chance, but I have a feeling Bournemouth will be a little more ruthless than Watford were last weekend – so there can be no room for error.
I think we’ll score as they always give you a chance, but I can see them outscoring us unfortunately. Let’s hope I’m proved wrong!
Prediction: Newcastle 1-2 Bournemouth
One final thought. Remember that there will be a minute’s SILENCE before kick off ahead of Remembrance Sunday. Please stay silent and reflect on those who gave their lives for freedom – don’t start applauding.
Howay the lads!