A love for Eddie Howe remains at former club Bournemouth, says interim boss Gary O’Neil, but that will have no bearing on their attempts to dethrone the former favourite and his current club Newcastle United when the pair meet in the Premier League this weekend.
Following an unexpected week off following the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II, the Cherries make the trip up north to face the Magpies looking to twist their fortunes back on track after a mixed return to the top-flight.
Scott Parker was dismissed after a record loss to Liverpool, with O’Neil placed in his stead, while Newcastle under Howe have lost just one top-flight game this term – but despite the latter’s hero status on the south coast for taking them through the football pyramid, there will be no love lost here.
“You can always feel the appreciation towards Eddie from everyone connected with the club,” he stated. “Look at where the club was when he took over to where it is now and a huge part of that is down to his work. The job he did here was incredible.
“The fans are obviously very grateful for that – but we go there to cause them some problems. They are a very good side and it’s a really tough place to go. I expect them to be around the top eight this season. It’s another big test for us but one we’re definitely looking forward to.”
Howe meanwhile has been talking up new recruit Loris Karius, after the ex-Liverpool goalkeeper was drafted in at St James’ Park following an ankle injury to goalkeeper Karl Darlow, though the Magpies boss was unwilling to say whether he would offer serious competition for Nick Pope.
“Loris was the outstanding candidate when we looked at the goalkeepers available which was quite a small pool,” he added. “He’s at a really good age, he’s had some incredible experiences in his career and he’s come in and trained very well.”
“You don’t want to bring someone in who doesn’t want to play and who can’t play. He can do both. He’s pushing. He has come in and he’s trained very well. He has improved with every session we’ve had and he has been really good with the team.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Newcastle – Kieran Trippier
Included in Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad and with an increased chance of making the plane to the Qatar 2022 World Cup, the defender will want to ensure he delivers a suitably watertight showcase up front and at the back in this last match before the international break.
Bournemouth – Dominic Solanke
The Cherries man has scored 49 goals in English league football (1 for Liverpool, 48 for Bournemouth). 45 of these strikes have come in his last three seasons (90 appearances), compared to just four in his first three campaigns (63 apps).
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Newcastle have lost just two of their eight Premier League meetings with Bournemouth (W4 D2), though both of those defeats came at St James’ Park (March 2016, November 2017).
– After failing to score in their first Premier League meeting with Newcastle, Bournemouth have found the net in each of their last seven against them. However, they’ve only kept one clean sheet in their eight top-flight meetings with the Magpies.
– Newcastle have won their last three Premier League games against promoted sides, their longest such run since a run of seven between October 2013 and November 2014.
– Newcastle have lost just one of their last eight Premier League games (W3 D4), a 2-1 loss to Liverpool last month. However, the Magpies are currently also winless in five league matches (D4 L1).
– Newcastle have lost just one of their last 13 Premier League home games (W8 D4), going down 1-0 against Liverpool in April. They’ve only conceded more than one goal in one of those 13 games, doing so in their 3-3 draw with Manchester City last month.