This weekend sees Newcastle travel to Premier League boys Bournemouth on the South Coast for what is an early six pointer. The gap between mid table and the bottom five is growing rapidly and neither side can afford to be cut adrift at this stage. Newcastle could get out of the relegation zone with a victory over the side that is directly above them and that could kickstart our season. 2015 has been a write off for Steve McClaren’s side, but a strong finish to the year could give us impetus to ensure next year is much much better.
Performances have been improved recently and we probably should have taken more points from the last five matches, but it’s starting to get past the point where playing well is enough. We need to start getting points on the board and this weekend is a great opportunity for that. Our opponents have only taken one point from the last five matches and have very little confidence, whereas ours is growing week by week.
“We have a tough away game. We have put ourselves in the position where this is an opportunity.”
– Steve McClaren
As usual, McClaren isn’t trying to build expectations too much ahead of this game, but he will know that he is running out of time and needs results to take a turn for the better. There is only so many times the board and the fans will accept that the team needs time to adjust. It’s clear that we are playing better than we have for a long time, but football is a results business and we desperately need points on the board.
Bournemouth are in 17th and we are in 18th position, which makes this a real opportunity for both to get points. I expect both sides to play within themselves for the majority of the game with defeat for either being a huge blow, even in November.
The home side are a new opposition for us, with the last time the clubs were in the same league being in the 1989/90 season and that was in division two. On that occasion, the sides had a victory apiece over the season, with both winning their home matches.
Kevin Mbabu, Daryl Janmaat and Rob Elliot are all available and in the squad. Freddie Woodman was expected to make his debut for the club, but Elliot looks like he will be able to play at Dean Court. Rolando Aarons and Massadio Haidara are expected to be missing until December.
Jack Colback, Karl Darlow, Tim Krul and Gabriel Obertan are still on the long term injury list. Steve McClaren may be tempted to bring Florian Thauvin into the fold to add some creativity as the side have struggled to score in recent weeks.
Bournemouth have injury problems of their own, with Artur Boruc and Steve Cook being doubts for the lunchtime kick off. Max Gradel, Callum Wilson, Tyrone Mings and Christian Atsu have all been hit with long term injuries, which has depleted an already inexperienced squad.
Former Newcastle player Dan Gosling is likely to start at the weekend, which will be interesting as he rarely got a chance at St James Park.
Predicted Line Up
I expect Steve McClaren to go into the the match with the same team that played against Stoke City. We were unlucky on the day and the performance was enough to give the coaching staff belief that they can win this weekend. Ayoze Perez is central to our attacking play, as he is always involved in our play in the final third. He has the technical ability to make a difference at Saturday lunchtime.
Florian Thauvin and Papiss Cisse are both pushing for a return, but Steve McClaren has told them to be patient as they try and break into the starting eleven. If the side struggle to score again this weekend, then options will be there for McClaren on the bench.
I’d be tempted to bring Thauvin in from the start for Anita and move Wijnaldum into the middle, which will give the side more attacking options.
We have played well recently and we haven’t had luck on our side. Football has a way of levelling itself out and at some point, we will get the results to match our performances. I think Mitrovic will have a field day on the South Coast and will get at least two goals. 1-3.
How do you think we’ll get on in this game? Have your say in our discussion thread.