The constant stream of matches continues this week, as we travel to face Bournemouth on the South Coast.
Steve Bruce confirmed in his pre-match press conference that he would ‘freshen’ the team up. This suggests that a number of fringe players will be given a chance to stake a claim for more regular football.
Below we detail the team that we expect to start at the Vitality Stadium tonight:
It was a surprise at the weekend when Karl Darlow was given a chance in the FA Cup. Although this was likely rotation, Martin Dubravka did make an error against Aston Villa.
The Slovakian has made a league high 119 saves this season. However, he has also made five errors leading to goals, more than any other player. He is no doubt overworked, but he will be hoping to finish the season strongly.
Despite Bruce’s comments, it would be a surprise to see too much rotation at the back. DeAndre Yedlin could be one who is brought in. The USA international has made appearances from the bench, but Javier Manquillo has been the regular starter. The Spaniard could be rested here. It gives a big opportunity for Yedlin to impress.
There could have been rotation at the back, but Fabian Schar’s poor performance against Manchester City will restrict further opportunities for him. Florian Lejeune and Ciaran Clark remain on the sidelines. This means the reliable pairing of Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez should continue. They have only conceded once in four Premier League fixtures as a pairing in a back four.
The lack of options at left back should mean Danny Rose gets another chance. There has been a steady improvement in his performance levels since the sport resumed. This could be a game where he gets to show more in the attacking half.
Two changes look likely in central midfield. Isaac Hayden needs a rest and it would be asking a lot of Sean Longstaff to start twice in a matter of days after an injury.
Jonjo Shelvey should be brought back into the team with the formation being moved back to a 4-2-3-1. He has the creativity to break down a shaky Bournemouth defence. Before lockdown, he was a class above against Southampton. A similar performance on the South Coast wouldn’t go amiss.
He could be partnered by Nabil Bentaleb, who missed the City game through suspension. An average of 3.4 ball recoveries per game in the black and white shows that he can cover the Hayden role. However, Bruce will want better distribution from him when he has possession.
There could be a rest for Allan Saint-Maximin, as Bruce comments that the winger is ‘extremely tired’, while it may come too soon for Matt Ritchie, despite his desire to start.
This could give a chance to Valentino Lazaro. Many on social media want to see the on-loan Inter Milan player get more playing time and they could get their wish on Wednesday. For a player with a combined five goals and 11 assists across the previous two Bundesliga seasons, there is certainly more to come in the Premier League.
Miguel Almiron was withdrawn early against City, therefore he should maintain his place in the number ten role. He has yet to score following the lockdown, but without Saint-Maximin – who looks set to be rested – he could be our primary threat against Bournemouth.
On the left, Joelinton is likely to be given a chance to show what he can do. Many believe this is the best position for the Brazilian, as he will have players ahead of him and be able to get on the ball more. He will be hoping to add another Premier League goal to his tally.
With Joelinton on the wing and Andy Carroll unlikely to start two matches in a matter of days, the pantomime villain from Sunday, Dwight Gayle, should start. Bruce suggested that he would get a chance to redeem himself against Bournemouth. In this fixture in 2018, the striker scored a brace. A similar goal-scoring feat would be welcomed tonight!
(4-2-3-1): Dubravka – Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Rose – Bentaleb, Shelvey – Lazaro, Almiron, Joelinton – Gayle.