Simon Mail previews a vital game for relegation-threatened Bournemouth with the hosts facing mid-table Newcastle United...
"Newcastle defeated Bournemouth 2-1 at home in November and are unbeaten in their last four meetings which suggests the smart money is on the outsiders."
Bournemouth v Newcastle
Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Cherries in huge struggle to avoid drop
Bournemouth face a huge challenge to avoid relegation from the Premier League with Eddie Howe's side third bottom with seven matches remaining. Their five-year stay in the top-flight is in severe jeopardy and their performances since the resumption offer few positives. A 2-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace was followed by a 1-0 loss at Wolves.
Time is running out for Bournemouth and this match is a crucial game during their run-in. With Manchester United, Tottenham, Man City and Leicester to follow, it is hard to see the Cherries taking many points over this period. Bournemouth, who have lost attacker Ryan Fraser with his contract expiring, have not won since defeating fellow strugglers Aston Villa at the start of February at the Vitality Stadium.
Bruce guiding Newcastle towards top half
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce deserves credit for guiding Newcastle to safety this season. The club have been linked with Mauricio Pochettino, should their proposed takeover go through, but Bruce arguably deserves to remain in his role after steering Newcastle to ten wins in 31 matches. An impressive 3-0 home win over Sheffield United marked their return to action in June before a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.
There is little doubt Bruce has extracted the most from his squad, with the team widely expected to be involved in a relegation battle at the start of the season. Allan Saint-Maximin has provided Newcastle with much-needed pace and creativity in their attack although the team were understandably forced onto the defensive during their 2-0 home defeat to Man City in Sunday's quarter-final defeat.
Hard to trust Bournemouth at short odds
Bournemouth are [2.5] favourites but this looks exceptionally short for a team in dire form. The Cherries have gone six matches without a victory and all the pressure is on them with games starting to run out. Any significant advantage has been wiped out, with no fans in attendance and Bournemouth have only managed to win four of their 15 home games.
Newcastle are deemed less likely winners at [3.35] and this looks worth strong consideration. The Magpies have won two of their last three league games and have already claimed a respectable four away victories this season. Newcastle defeated Bournemouth 2-1 at home in November and are unbeaten in their last four meetings which suggests the smart money is on the outsiders.
The draw is available at [3.25] and Newcastle have been held on nine occasions this season. Bournemouth badly need a victory though and will surely have to push for maximum points. This should give Newcastle opportunities to strike on the break and the visitors look worth backing. The last two trips to Bournemouth have ended level and it looks worth siding with Newcastle in the draw no bet market.
Goals could be in short supply
Both of these teams have struggled in the final third with Bournemouth and Newcastle each scoring just 29 goals in 31 matches. The Cherries have failed to find the net since the league's resumption and worryingly for them have hardly looked like scoring either. Bournemouth's last two games both featured under three goals and there looks a strong chance of another low-scoring match.
Newcastle have only managed 13 goals in 15 away league matches and there looks a strong likelihood of another low-scoring contest this week. Bruce's team are not renowned for being overly expansive and will probably set out to frustrate the desperate hosts. Under 2.5 goals looks a solid wager but the odds are not exactly enticing at just [1.64].
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P/L 2019-20 season