MX23RW : Friday, July 30 23:42:41| >> :120:11426:11426:
Mar 5, 2016 at 3pm UK at St James' Park
Attendance: 52,107
NewcastleNewcastle United
1-3
Bournemouth
Perez (79')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Taylor (28' og.), King (70'), Daniels (92')

Preview: Newcastle United vs. Bournemouth

Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's relegation battle between Newcastle United and Bournemouth at St James' Park.

Two relegation candidates will go head to head at St James' Park on Saturday as Newcastle United host Bournemouth in the Premier League.

A full eight points separate the two sides in the table before kickoff, but a home victory may be enough to drag the Magpies out of the bottom three and prevent the Cherries from escaping the mire.


Newcastle

Newcastle United's English head coach Steve McClaren applauds on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United at White Hart Lane in north London on December 13, 2015.© Getty Images

When Steve McClaren took on the Newcastle job last summer, he would surely have expected the Magpies to be in a better position come March than the one they currently find themselves in.

The tone was set in the opening weeks of the campaign, though, with no wins in their first eight games being followed by just six since, leaving them 19th in the table.

It is only goal difference that separates them from safety, a position currently occupied by their bitter North-East rivals Sunderland, whom they will face in a huge derby match later this month.

They also have a game in hand over both the Black Cats and Norwich City, although with that coming against Manchester City, there is no guarantee of making it count.

McClaren oversaw an alarming collapse towards the latter stages of last season when trying to get into the Premier League with Derby County, and it is looking increasingly like he will need the opposite in order to stay in the top flight this time around.

The Magpies returned from an 18-day break with a match against Stoke City on Wednesday evening, but it ended in a similar story as the Potters, with the help of goalkeeper Jack Butland, edged to a 1-0 victory at the Britannia Stadium.

McClaren said after the match that he was pleased that his side didn't have to play against Butland every week, but in truth they have struggled against most goalkeepers this season, with only Aston Villa having scored fewer goals in the Premier League.

Newcastle have now lost four of their last five league matches and have only won two of their last 12 in all competitions - a record that simply must improve going into games against Bournemouth, Sunderland and Norwich in three of their next four.

Fortunately for the Magpies, they take on four of the bottom seven at home between now and the end of the season, and their form at St James' Park is the only reason that they still stand a chance of survival this term.

This weekend they will be bidding for three consecutive home league wins for the first time since December 2014, while they have only lost one of their last six dating back to November.

Recent form: WLLWLL


Bournemouth

Steve Cook celebrates scoring during the Premier League game between Bournemouth and Southampton on March 1, 2016© Getty Images

While not completely away from trouble just yet, Bournemouth will be breathing a lot easier going into this match than their opponents will.

The gap to the bottom three currently stands at eight points, and a victory over Newcastle this weekend would not only serve to increase their cushion over at least one of the teams below them in the table, but would also edge them within five points of the 40-point mark.

With Sunderland and Norwich both facing away games on the Saturday, defeat for those two coupled with a Bournemouth win would leave the Cherries with an 11-point gap to defend over the final 10 games of the season.

On the evidence of this season so far, that would be a task well within the capabilities of Eddie Howe's side, who have lost just four of their last 16 Premier League outings.

They may have been beginning to glance over their shoulders again following a three-match winless streak in February, but their opening fixture of March brought with it a return to winning ways.

The Cherries welcomed south coast rivals Southampton to town and, while the Saints were not at their best, Bournemouth's 2-0 victory was an impressive result against a side who went into that game still harbouring European ambitions.

Those three points mean that Bournemouth have exactly the same record at home as they do on the road this season, but they are actually unbeaten on their travels in all competitions so far this calendar year - a run of six matches.

In the Premier League, Arsenal are the only home team to have beaten Bournemouth in eight games since the start of November, with the Cherries having picked up points at Stamford Bridge, the King Power Stadium and Vicarage Road in that time.

Recent form: DWLLDW
Recent form (all competitions): WLLLDW


Team News

Fabricio Coloccini of Newcastle United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Southampton at St James Park on August 9, 2015 in Newcastle, England. © Getty Images

Newcastle skipper Fabricio Coloccini missed out on Wednesday night with a calf injury and is a major doubt for this weekend too, which should see Jonjo Shelvey keep the armband.

McClaren also has question marks over the fitness of Andros Townsend (knock), Cheick Tiote (hamstring) and Papiss Cisse (groin), who are all expected to undergo late tests before Saturday.

There are no new injury concerns for the Magpies, though, which is at least a sliver of good news for a team who have the lengthiest list of absentees in the league at the moment.

As for Bournemouth, both Harry Arter (Achilles) and Josh King (ankle) are being assessed following Tuesday's win over Southampton and could miss out this weekend.

Junior Stanislas (hamstring) is definitely out, joining long-term absentees Tyrone Mings and Callum Wilson on the sidelines.

Newcastle possible starting lineup:
Elliot; Janmaat, Lascelles, Taylor, Dummett; Colback, Shelvey, Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Townsend; Mitrovic

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Boruc; Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels; Ritchie, Surman, Gosling, Gradel; Afobe, Grabban


Head To Head

These two sides have met on seven previous occasions in all competitions before, with three wins apiece and a solitary draw in that time.

The reverse fixture in November was the first time that they had met in the league since 1990, with Newcastle running out 1-0 winners courtesy of an Ayoze Perez goal with his side's only on-target shot of the game.

Bournemouth have won one and lost two of their previous away games against Newcastle, although on their only league visit to St James' Park they were beaten 3-0.


The Dugout Podcast

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We say: Newcastle 1-1 Bournemouth

Newcastle need the win more than Bournemouth this weekend, but better teams have tried and failed to put away the visiting Cherries in recent months. The Magpies are in good form at St James' Park and Bournemouth are doing well on the road, so we can see these two sides cancelling each other out.



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Steve McClaren shakes hands with Jonjo Shelvey on January 16, 2016
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Saturday's key events


TRIATHLON
· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

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· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

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· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
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· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

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