Premier League football returns after a brief hiatus following the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II. All competitive football games were postponed in England as a mark of respect for the late queen, but this weekend’s fixtures are set to go ahead as fans wait eagerly for their favorite teams to return to the pitch and pay respects the right way – a stadium full screaming their cords off to her name. A packed St. James Park doing so is quite the rhythm, as Newcastle United welcome newly promoted and rather struggling AFC Bournemouth.
Newcastle United, for all their investment, have had a mixed start to the season – despite playing good football they haven’t had the ideal results on the whistle. The Magpies opened the season with a convincing 2-0 win, but since then have failed to win a single game in the league, having drawn 4 and lost once since – an undeserved 2-1 loss at Anfield against Liverpool. The 3-3 draw against defending champions Manchester City was evidence of their quality and woeful luck. They had done superbly well to go 3-1 up in that game, but eventually could not keep the Blues at bay who were just too good for the Magpies. They now face an unsettled Bournemouth team, who are without a permanent manager, and Eddie Howe will be hoping to break their winless duck on Saturday.
Bournemouth’s last game in the league was a brilliant 3-2 comeback win against Nottingham Forest, almost a couple of weeks ago, as they registered their first win in the league since the opening day. They lost three on the bounce since that three pointer against Aston Villa, including a 9-0 demolition at Anfield. That led to the sacking of manager Scott Parker, which left the fans and pundits in shock. However, interim manager Gary O’Neil has somewhat steadied the ship since, picking up 4 points out of 6 in two games. The Cherries had to work hard for their win against Forest, it was a game of two halves – with them going down two goals in the first half and the following forty-five was a completely different story as they controlled and dominated Forest scoring three goals, including a beautiful strike from 30 yards by Phillp Billings and a wonderful bicycle kick by Dominic Solanke. That win will have certainly boosted morale in the squad, as they prepare to take on Newcastle United away, a hostile ground that gives you shivers down your spine.
WHEN AND WHERE?
Date: Saturday, 17th September 2022.
Time: 3.00 pm BST
Venue: St. James’ Park, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Referee: Craig Pawson.
Assistants: Marc Perry, Scott Ledger.
Fourth official: Chris Kavanagh.
VAR: Stuart Attwell.
Assistant VAR: Constantine Hatzidakis.
For the hosts, midfielder Bruno Guimaraes injured his hamstring in the EFL Cup game against Tranmere Rovers, but is said to be very close to a full recovery. He has been called up to the Brazil national team for the international break which starts following this weekend, suggesting he could return to the squad on Saturday.
Similarly, talisman Allan Saint-Maximin also injured his hamstring in their draw against Wolves and he could also return along with Bruno for the game against Bournemouth. However, striker Callum Wilson will have to wait a little longer, as his injury is said to be a bit more serious and a potential return date post the international break is on the horizon for the Englishman.
Bournemouth also have a few players on the treatment table with the likes of Joe Rothwell, Benjamin Pearson and David Brooks all said to be returning only following the international hiatus. However, there could be a possible return on the cards for Junior Stanislas, who has been training with the team and could well be included in the trip to Newcastle.
Newcastle United vs Bournemouth is all set for a fantastic clash of tactical setups and strategical plays. United manager Eddie Howe is gradually imprinting his identity on the Magpies, often lining up in a 4-3-3 and preferring a possession styled approach to the game. However, the manager has shown his tactical flexibility as well, showing he is not afraid to give up possession and play on the break when needed. The Magpies have the pace and power to hurt teams on the counter, but at the same time have players who can fashion openings and create spaces against teams that setup in a low block.
Gary O’Neil has only been in charge of Bournemouth for a couple of games, his tactical tweak at halftime against Nottingham Forest is what won them the game, as he introduced Ryan Fredricks to play at right-wing back and Adam Smith became the third centre-back. The two wing-backs were deployed high up the field and the Cherries style of play from the first half changed dramatically in the second half. They stopped bombing aimless crosses into the box and instead play short quick passes. As their control of the ball increased, so did their confidence, and the Cherries began advancing up the field threateningly as they nearly dominated and dictated the play. Forest barely got a look in and the Cherries went on to score three goals to complete the comeback in some style.
O’Neil has emphasized the strength of belief and urged his players to believe in themselves even when they looked down and out. The Cherries will need that belief throughout the season if they are to survive in the league for another year, and a positive result against Newcastle United will be the right step in that direction. The Magpies are a tough team to beat with the way they are playing right now, and despite results saying otherwise, Newcastle United can go toe-to-toe with some of the top teams in the league. The Cherries will have to keep their wits about them and come up with something special to beat a strong Newcastle team.
The Swedish striker made the move from La Liga to Premier League for a club-record £58 million just a few days before the deadline day, and made his mark instantly in England. He scored in his first appearance for the Magpies, at Anfield against Liverpool, and could have had a second if the offside flag had not denied him. Anfield is one of the most hostile stadiums in Europe and scoring there will have given him a world of confidence.
He has linked up well with the likes of Joe Willock, Ryan Fraser and Joelinton in his two appearances so far, and he looks comfortable and at home at Newcastle. Bournemouth do not have the best of defences and they will be wary of the Swede, especially after the way he has troubled defenders in his two games for the club so far.
Bournemouth have not had a great form in front of goal and had gone over 400 minutes of Premier League football without finding the back of the net. It’s made for some bleak viewing so far, but they broke that duck in some fashion against Nottingham Forest last time out. The return of Solanke instantly improves Bournemouth’s attacking threat, and he was unstoppable for the Cherries last season, scoring 29 goals in the Championship – a returned only bettered by Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic. The English forward scored his first of the season with an outstanding bicycle kick, and he did look comfortable leading the line for the Cherries. He boosted his chances of getting picked regularly by scoring, and he will be expected to lead the line again on Saturday.
Newcastle United predicted lineup vs AFC Bournemouth: Nick Pope; Kieran Trippier, Jamal Lascelles, Sven Botman, Matt Targett; Joe Willock, Sean Longstaff, Joelinton; Miguel Almiron, Alexander Isak, Ryan Fraser.
AFC Bournemouth predicted lineup vs Newcastle United: Neto; Adam Smith, Chris Mepham, Lloyd Kelly, Jordan Zemura; Lewis Cook, Jefferson Lerma; Ryan Christie, Phillip Billings, Matt Tavernier; Dominic Solanke.