We head into this one in a similar position to the West Ham away game two weeks ago, arriving on the back of another massive home win – only this time, we must learn from our mistakes.
Last weekend’s win over Everton was incredible and perhaps the most electric evening of our season at St James’ Park, but it’s worth noting that results elsewhere meant we were just THREE points above the relegation zone before Ayoze’s late double.
We were sloppy against the Hammers in our last appearance on the road – everything we haven’t been in recent months – and were punished for it, so the players must take Rafa’s advice, put thoughts of their summer holidays to one side and focus on the task in hand.
We’ll be without Lascelles and Schar, but I have plenty of faith in the likes of Fernandez and Dummett – two reliable players who’ve been unlucky to miss out in recent weeks. That says a lot about how our defence has improved under Rafa!
Win and we’ll leapfrog Bournemouth, seem all but safe and will have every reason to have one eye on a top 10 finish, but with Cardiff and Southampton pulling off surprise wins last weekend, we can’t believe we’re safe just yet.
I expect Federico Fernandez to play and it would not surprise me if Rafa brought in Dummett at left-back, went back to a 4-2-3-1 and then paired the the Argentinian alongside Lejeune at centre-back – meaning Ritchie could be deployed further forward.
I’d like to see Fernandez return – a player who was one of our top performers earlier in the season and someone who must feel hard done by after a recent drop down to the bench. Clark is also back, a player who’s done well when called upon, but I’d be very surprised if the side didn’t include Dummett – whether it be at the left-side of a three-man defence or at left-back in a flat back four.
In midfield I’d be surprised if Ki played after his lacklustre display against Everton. Shelvey will be knocking on the door after changing the game against the Toffees, while big Mo needs starts and quickly if he’s going to get this one-year extension (something which will be triggered after THREE more starts by all accounts).
Preferred NUFC XI – (3-4–2-1) – Dubravka– Lejeune, Fernandez, Dummett – Yedlin, Hayden, Shelvey, Ritchie – Perez, Almiron – Rondon.
Here’s a few ‘ones to watch’ in Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side:
Ryan Fraser: He gets called the ‘Scottish Messi’ and without wanting to go over the top, I can sometimes see why. A diminutive winger who’s very quick, direct and has an eye for a pass or a goal – with an impressive 6 goals and 10 assists this season.
Callum Wilson – A real handful and a player Rafa missed the boat on at Newcastle after being linked the summer we got promoted. He’s just return from injury and bagged a goal and an assist on his return in their much needed win at Huddersfield last weekend. Keep him and Fraser quiet and we could be in business.
David Brooks – The 21-year-old was signed from Sheffield United over the summer, but he’s not taken long to look the part at this level. He’s got good movement and seems a very intelligent and composed player for his age and relative inexperience.
Predicted Bournemouth XI – (4-2-2-2) – Boruc – Clyne, Ake, Mepham, Daniels – Lerma, Surman – Brooks, Fraser – King, Wilson.
Fabian Schar starts his two-match ban after receiving his 10th booking last weekend, Jamaal Lascelles has been ruled out with a minor knee and injury,Sean Longstaff is ruled out once again.
Ciaran Clark is available after several weeks out and Federico Fernandez could be set for a recall, but Rob Elliot has been ruled out once again.
Bournemouth’s right-back Adam Smith will miss out with a hamstring strain – so Liverpool loanee Nathaniel Clyne looks set to start.
I think we’ll cause each other problems at both ends in this one, with Bournemouth being devastating and dynamic in attack on their day – but also being pretty suspect at the back.
This one could end up like the West Ham away game did if we aren’t switched on, but you’d like to think they’ll heed Rafa’s warning this time and stay focused on the task in hand.
Prediction: Bournemouth 2-2 Newcastle
Howay the lads!