Newcastle v Bournemouth preview: Mikel Merino sidelined for Magpies
Last Updated: 04/11/17 2:37pm
Mikel Merino will not be available for Newcastle when they host Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday.
The midfielder has picked up a back injury, with Rafa Benitez admitting that the player will be sidelined for "a couple of weeks at least" and will not join up with Spain's U21s during the forthcoming international break.
Saturday's meeting will be just the fifth league meeting between the sides and only the third in the Premier League - both teams won one game each in the 2015/16 campaign, with Bournemouth winning 3-1 at St. James' Park in Steve McClaren's last game in charge of Newcastle.
The Cherries will be hoping for a similar performance at the weekend as they look to pull themselves out of the relegation places, with just seven points from their opening ten games of the season.
They could be in luck if history is anything to go by, with Newcastle last beating Bournemouth at St. James' Park in February 1990 when a Mick Quinn brace helped them to a 3-0 win. They've drawn one and lost one in all competitions since that victory.
Although Merino will be sidelined, Isaac Hayden has recovered from a minor calf problem while full-back Paul Dummett is back in training after a hamstring injury, although is not yet available for selection.
Bournemouth will be without Benik Afobe (thigh) and Junior Stanislas (groin) after both were forced off in the defeat to Chelsea last weekend.
However, Howe is boosted by the potential return of Callum Wilson, who could make his first league start in more than a year following a serious knee injury.
The last home match before Rafa Benitez took charge of Newcastle was a 3-1 defeat to Bournemouth in March 2016 - in the 38 matches he's managed at St. James' Park in all competitions, the Magpies have won 25 with a win ratio of 66%, while in the 38 before he took over they won just 13 (34%).
Benitez has managed five home Premier League matches for Newcastle on a Saturday and won all five - indeed, the Spaniard has lost only one of his last 58 home Premier League matches on Saturday (W47 D10), losing 1-0 to Man Utd in March 2007.
Bournemouth won their last away Premier League game at Stoke, but have only managed back-to-back away victories in the competition once before - in December 2015 when they won at Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion.
Bournemouth have handed Premier League appearances to 13 different English players in the Premier League this season; more than any other side.
The Cherries have made their worst start to a Premier League campaign after 10 games (seven points); fewer than in 2016-17 (12) and 2015-16 (8). They had also scored twice as many goals at this stage in both their previous Premier League seasons (12, compared to six this season).
Newcastle United have averaged the youngest starting XI in the Premier League this season (25y 258d old).
Jermain Defoe has scored on each of his last three Premier League visits to St James' Park - in October 2011 and August 2012 with Tottenham, and with Sunderland in March 2016.
Defoe's next goal will be his 200th in league competition. He's currently scored 91 for Spurs, 34 for Sunderland, 29 for West Ham, 19 for Bournemouth, 15 for Portsmouth and 11 for Toronto FC.
I was really disappointed with Newcastle on Monday night (in their 1-0 loss at Burnley) if I'm being honest, the only plan they looked like having was Jonjo Shelvey. It was a game you thought, 'go and try and win here and kick on,' but it did not look good to me. Bournemouth got a good result at Stoke, but I am going to go 2-1 to Newcastle.
Paul predicts: 2-1 (Sky Bet odds 15/8)
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Newcastle are 19/20 to beat Bournemouth at St James' Park this weekend, with Sky Bet pricing the visitors at 14/5 to cause an upset and 5/2 to grab a point. Home trio Joselu, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dwight Gayle are all 4/1 to score first, while Jermain Defoe is considered Bournemouth's main threat at 11/2.