A Vitality Stadium homecoming awaits Eddie Howe on Saturday, as Newcastle United make the trip south to take on Bournemouth in the Premier League’s evening kickoff.
Both Bournemouth and Newcastle United are aiming to bounce back from demoralising losses, as the Cherries were mauled 6-1 by Manchester City last time out, while the Magpies suffered a 2-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday.
With both teams desperate to go into the November international hiatus on a high, let us take a look at the key battles that could define the outcome of this exciting game on the south coast.
#Joelinton vs Bournemouth centre-backs
Callum Wilson only lasted until half time against Borussia Dortmund and is a doubt for the weekend. The England international’s potential absence would leave Eddie Howe without a recognised striker against Bournemouth, so there is a chance of Joelinton being shoe-horned into a No.9 role.
Joelinton has operated as a centre-forward during his Hoffenheim days and should not find much problem leading the Newcastle attack at the Vitality Stadium. With his physicality and hold-up play, the Brazilian could give Bournemouth defenders a headache.
If Joelinton has to be stopped from being a threat in the box, Bournemouth’s centre-back pairing of Illia Zabarnyi and Marco Senesi will have to be on their toes throughout the game.
#Milos Kerkez vs Miguel Almiron
Solid in defence and tenacious in the challenge, Milos Kerkez is comfortable in one-on-one situations at the back, but also loves to get forward. He can provide good deliveries from the flank and is an asset for the Cherries during transitions.
However, the young Hungarian left-back will likely be up against the unpredictable and pacey Miguel Almiron on Saturday, and it’s those aforementioned defensive duties that are sure to be put to the test. Almiron has been among Newcastle’s best performers this season, and the Paraguayan’s industry, flair, running power and energy could make life difficult for Kerkez and his fellow Bournemouth defenders.
So, how Kerkez deals with Almiron will be an interesting watch.
#Sean Longstaff vs Philip Billing
Bruno Guimaraes is suspended for the trip to Bournemouth after picking up his fifth booking of the league season against Arsenal, so Howe could start Sean Longstaff in a deeper role on Saturday. Longstaff has performed consistently this season but dictating the tempo of play from the base of the midfield will be a difficult task, especially away from home.
After Bournemouth’s five-man defence was exposed and carved at will by Man City last weekend, Andoni Iraola may consider reverting to a four-man defensive setup here. A change in shape should see Philip Billing find himself back in his preferred No.10 role from where he could link play and take pops on Nick Pope’s goal.
Thus, the task of stopping Billing from influencing Bournemouth’s attacks will fall on the shoulders of Longstaff. How the 26-year-old Englishman does in defensive midfield against the Cherries will be interesting to see, and if he can nullify Billing, the Toon Army will stand a good chance to win all points at the south coast.
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