Bare AFC Bournemouth Brace For Newcastle United
Cherries On The Brink
The Cherries find themselves in a scramble for their Premier League safety, occupying 18th position ahead of the visit of the Magpies.
Successive post-lockdown defeats at home to Crystal Palace and away to Wolverhampton Wanderers have left the south coast side clinging to their top-flight lives and with games against four of the top seven immediately following, Wednesday night’s tie must surely be classified as win or bust.
On the other hand, their opponents travel south buoyed by four league points in two games that have alleviated any relegation worries fans may have harboured over the enforced break.
The 3-0 victory over Sheffield United and subsequent 1-1 draw with Aston Villa was complimented by a spirited second-half performance before eventually succumbing to the class of Manchester City in an FA Cup quarter-final at the weekend. Manager Steve Bruce has further cemented the credentials behind his appointment pre-season.
The home side are sweating on the fitness of striker Josh King. The Norweigian suffered an ankle injury during the defeat to Crystal Palace, missing the trip to Wolves. His inclusion would be a welcome boost for manager Howe, who is definitely without the services of King’s fellow front-man Callum Wilson – suspended after collecting his tenth yellow card of the season – and want-away playmaker Ryan Fraser.
Captain Simon Francis and long-term absentee Charlie Daniels remain sidelined by respective knee injuries, but Howe was at least able to confirm the availability of Philip Billing after the combative midfielder suffered a dead leg in the weekend defeat at Molineux.
Bruce looks set to ring the changes to his side for what will be their fourth game in eleven days. Still missing are Florian Lejeune and Ciaran Clark whilst Matt Ritchie is rated as “touch and go” having sat out the City defeat with a tight hamstring.
Amongst those potentially coming into the side will be Matty Longstaff. The Toon have offered the youngster a new contract after speculation linking him with a move away from the club.
The 3-0 victory over the Blades was only the second time Newcastle have managed more than one goal in a Premier League encounter since the beginning of December. £40 million man Joelinton scored only his second league goal in that victory and looks likely to fill the lone striker berth with Andy Carroll set to drop to the bench after playing in the defeat to the recently dethroned Premier League champions.
Should King not make it for Bournemouth, Dominic Solanke looks set to deputise in both his and Wilson’s absence. The former Liverpool starlet has only managed a goal in a 4-0 FA Cup rout against Luton Town since his move to the Vitality Stadium 18 months ago.
Viewers seeking goalmouth action may want to avoid at all costs.
Bournemouth 0 – 0 Newcastle