Newcastle United will aim to snap a five-game Premier League winless streak when they face a manager-less Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon at St James’ Park.

The Premier League returns to action following a pause as a mark of respect to the late Queen Elizabeth II. Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe welcomes his former club Bournemouth to St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon.

Newcastle United presently sit 11th in the Premier League, with 7 points from their first six games. The Magpies’ promising start has kind of faded, as they have drawn with Wolves and Crystal Palace in their previous three games, with an injury-time 2-1 loss to Liverpool at Anfield.

However, they got on the wrong end of poor refereeing and VAR calls in each of those games, while injuries to star players like Bruno Guimaraes, Allan Saint-Maximin, and Callum Wilson have also played a big part in their staleness in the creative department.

Nonetheless, Eddie Howe’s men will look to put things right this weekend back at St James’ Park, where they are a different beast altogether. Their only victory of the 2022–23 Premier League campaign was against Nottingham Forest on the opening Saturday at St James’ Park. Another home encounter against a newly promoted side could set the tone for the club’s second win.

Meanwhile, in a drastic change of early-season fortunes, relegation favourites Bournemouth have managed to pick themselves up since they were humiliated when they crashed to a 9-0 loss at Liverpool, which culminated the end of Scott Parker’s managerial stint at the Vitality Stadium.

Since Scott Parker was sacked following his side’s combined 16-0 battering at the hands of Man City, Arsenal, and Liverpool, Bournemouth have been undefeated in the league, picking up a point at home to Wolves before taking all three against Nottingham Forest, overturning a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 in what was a morale-boosting, memorable comeback.

This could well be Gary O’Neil’s final audition as caretaker boss for Bournemouth amid takeover talks, with new the Cherries’ hierarchy likely to make an announcement on the next managerial appointment during the international break, even if that means handing the permanent keys to O’Neil given his positive short stint so far.

And ahead of his side’s matchup against Newcastle on Saturday at St James’ Park, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both sides.

Team News & Tactics

Newcastle United

Newcastle United will be without the services of backup goalkeeper Karl Darlow for around six to eight weeks after the 31-year-old suffered an ankle injury in training.

With just Nick Pope and Mark Gillespie as senior goalkeepers, the Magpies moved to sign former Liverpool shot-stopper Loris Karius on a Bosman transfer. Karius, 29, has signed a short-term deal until January, with the Toon having the option to extend his stay for the remainder of the season.

Elsewhere, Toon manager Eddie Howe remained coy in his pre-match presser when asked for an injury update on Allan Saint-Maximin, Bruno Guimaraes, and Callum Wilson, and suggested he would make a late call ahead of the game. Even if fit, it is unlikely that he will risk any of the star trio from the start.

Newcastle are likely to set up in their customary 4-3-3 formation, with a high-tempo, vertical, and attacking brand of football as their identity. There is no looking past Pope in between the sticks for the Magpies, with the former Burnley shot-stopper receiving yet another England call-up, and with Jordan Pickford sidelined due to an injury, he is likely to get a chance to stake a claim for the starting role at the World Cup.

Fabian Schar and Sven Botman will form the central defensive pairing, flanked by the full-back duo of Matt Targett and Kieran Trippier. Sean Longstaff will anchor the midfield-three, with Joelinton and Joe Willock should be the enforcers on either side of him, doing most of the ball-recovery work and stifling Bournemouth’s danger on the counter-attack, as well as arriving late in the box to offer additional attacking presence.

There should only be one change in the frontline. 19-year-old Geordie attacker Elliot Anderson, who has impressed with his bright cameos from the bench in recent weeks, could be handed his first Premier League start in place of Ryan Fraser. Summer signing Alexander Isak will continue to spearhead the line, as should Miguel Almiron’s irrepressible work rate down the right.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Targett; Willock, Longstaff, Joelinton; Almiron, Isak, Anderson

Bournemouth

Unlike his counterpart in the Newcastle dugout, Bournemouth caretaker manager Gary O’Neil has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the trip to St James’ Park. Junior Stanislas returned to training last week and is pushing for a first-team return, but other long-term casualties Ben Pearson and Joe Rothwell remain sidelined.

David Brooks is working his way back to full fitness and has featured in a couple of Under-21 games, but he is unlikely to be involved this weekend. O’Neil will probably opt for the 4-4-2 deep-block formation and is likely to name the same starting XI that bagged four points out of a possible six on offer under his watch.

Captain Lloyd Kelly and Chris Mepham are automatic picks at the heart of Bournemouth’s defence. Adam Smith and Jordan Zemura ought to be the two full-backs, with former Barcelona shot-stopper Neto establishing himself as a first-choice goalkeeping pick since Mark Travers lost his place following a 9-0 drubbing at Liverpool.

Up ahead in midfield, Lewis Cook will continue his partnership alongside Jefferson Lerma in the double pivot. With both defensive-minded players, shoring up the defensive side of things and providing cover to the backline will be their priority tasks. Boyhood Newcastle fan Marcus Tavernier and Ryan Christie will take up the wide positions, playing down the right and left-wing, respectively.

While they have picked up crucial results lately, that does not hide away from the fact that they are massively overperforming in an attacking sense. Dominic Solanke opened his account for the campaign in the comeback win at Forest and will look to double his season tally here. Philip Billing will be the man in support in front-two, with the 24-year-old dropping deep but charging forward during transition moments.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Neto; Smith, Mepham, Kelly, Zemura; Tavernier, Cook, Lerma, Christie; Billing, Solanke

Key Stats

  • Newcastle have lost just two of their eight Premier League meetings with Bournemouth (W4 D2), while they are unbeaten at home this season (W1, D2).
  • The Magpies, in fact, are undefeated in 12 of their last 13 home Premier League matches (W8, D4).
  • However, the Tynesiders are currently also winless in five league matches (D4 L1), with their last win coming against newly-promoted Nottingham Forest.
  • Bournemouth have shipped 18 goals in their six Premier League games so far this season, which is the joint-most in the competition’s history. At this rate, they will concede 114 times over the whole season.
  • The Cherries have taken just 34 shots in the Premier League this season, at least 22 fewer than any other side so far. The visitors also had a league-low 12 attempts on target but had the third-highest conversion rate of 14.7%.

Player to Watch

Alexander Isak

The Swedish striker made the move to Tyneside for a club-record £58 million late in the summer transfer window and made an instant impact for his new club in the Premier League. He netted a well-taken goal at Anfield and could have sealed the tie with another one, but that was ruled off for a close offside call.

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Against Palace, he had a golden opportunity that he created in the first place, but he fluffed his lines in a one-on-one against the goalkeeper. Indeed, he has taken to life in the Premier League like a duck to water, and his explosive and energetic style suits the English top-flight, which tends to be intense and full of transitions.

The new boy will be a key player for Eddie Howe’s side on Saturday and will certainly be looking to get on the scoresheet against an underperforming visitors’ backline.

Prediction

Newcastle United 3-0 Bournemouth

Newcastle’s point tally of only seven points from six games doesn’t reflect just how impressive their performances have been this season, especially in the games against Liverpool and Manchester City. While injuries to key players in the last couple of games have played their part, Eddie Howe’s side need to be ruthless against clubs outside the big six to be regarded as the best of the rest.

St James’ Park has been a fortress for the Toon, with the mentality of “us against the world” brewing on Tyneside, making it difficult to see the manager-less Bournemouth getting anything from this one. The Hard Tackle predicts a clean sweep, with a 3-0 victory for the hosts in front of an expectant home crowd.

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