I never thought I’d say it, but roll on the international break. A miserable night for Newcastle as our threadbare side looked flat, fatigued and off it in all departments in a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Bournemouth.
A Dominic Solanke brace ends our run of seven games unbeaten in the league and is our first domestic defeat since that 3-1 loss at Brighton over two months ago. We were miles off it physically and looked like a team struggling to gel with the volume of injuries and suspensions in the midst of such a busy schedule.
The result sees us slip to 7th, which could become 8th if Brighton beat Sheffield United on Sunday, after Man Utd moved a point above us following their 1-0 win over Luton earlier today.
Lewis Miley looking assured on his Premier League debut was possibly the one positive on the night, but Miguel Almiron became the latest casualty with a suspected hamstring injury, while Longstaff and Schar also went down in pain before soldiering on. There were so many mitigating factors – injuries, suspensions, fatigue and the hectic schedule – but it was a concerning display, with Bournemouth threatening to make it three or four late on.
Howe made three changes from midweek, with Anthony Gordon and Almiron recalled and Miley handed a chance to impress in Bruno’s absence. Callum Wilson missed out of the squad, Tino Livramento dropped to the bench.
It was a poor first half, which all kicked with Pope making two saves in the opening two minutes. Longstaff’s effort from range and a blocked Lascelles header were our only real glimpses of goal in the first 45, which also featured a huge block from the skipper to deny Solanke and more injury worries.
First, Schar went down holding his hamstring and shaking his head. Thankfully, he shook that off and was able to continue, but Almiron became our 12th casualty (yes, TWELVE) as he hobbled off with what looked to be a hamstring problem, seeing Matt Ritchie come on against his former club.
Livramento replaced Hall at the break, with this being the third time this season our summer signing from Chelsea has been hooked at the break by Howe. Our sluggish play continued just 90 seconds after the restart, as Trippier’s awful back pass should’ve been punished by Solanke, who took a heavy touch just as he looked to round Pope.
That would be the last time Solanke would let us get away with it, however. His first saw him react fastest to a fortunate deflection off Willock, while the second was another poor one to concede, seeing the striker poke home from a corner-kick scramble we failed to deal with.
It showed the extent of our injury crisis that 18-year-old youngster Ben Parkinson came on for his Premier League debut in search of a goal, with the U21 talent one of three academy prospects named on the bench. We looked beaten and never came close to getting back in the game, relying on a few big saves from Pope to stop it becoming three or four.
A night to forget for Newcastle. Let’s hope we can get Isak, Barnes, Botman and others back ASAP after the break, with fingers crossed all over Tyneside that Almiron’s hamstring injury isn’t too bad. Next up, a much-needed break and home clash with Chelsea in two weeks time.
STARTING XI: Pope – Trippier, Lascelles, Schar, Hall – Miley, Longstaff, Willock – Almiron, Gordon, Joelinton.
SUBS: Dubravka, Gillespie, Dummett, Ritchie, Krafth, Livramento, A.Murphy, Diallo, Parkinson