Newcastle United supporters in the Transfer Tavern are relishing their side’s trip to Bournemouth in the Premier League this afternoon, as the North East giants look to back up their stunning victory over Manchester United last time out with another this weekend.
Rafa Benitez’s men produced an inspired performance to edge the Red Devils 1-0 in their previous league encounter, a result which moved them out of the relegation zone and up to the dizzy heights of 13th place. And the North East giants can move another three points closer to Premier League safety when they travel to Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth later today, with the Benitez’s side knowing that victory over the South Coast club would take them above the Cherries in the Premier League table, and potentially five points clear of danger.
Consequently, there are many hopeful Newcastle fans in the Tavern at present, several of whom are sincerely hoping their team produce the same level of performance against Bournemouth as they did against Jose Mourinho’s United a fortnight ago.
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In the meantime though, there has been much for our resident Magpies supporters to get their teeth into, not least the news that Islam Slimani will not feature for the club after suffering a setback on his return from a thigh problem.
As such, Benitez simply must forget about the 29-year-old and instead keep faith with fellow striker Dwight Gayle.
And that’s because the former Crystal Palace forward has led the line well for the Magpies in the last few games, and carries the sort of goal threat they will need to get the better of Howe’s Bournemouth this afternoon.
Ultimately, the 27-year-old played a huge part in helping Newcastle return to the Premier League this term with 23 goals in the Championship last time round, but there have always been question marks over his suitability to replicate that form in the top-flight.
And those doubts came to the fore at the start of the campaign, but Gayle has started to put those to bed with impressive efforts upfront for Benitez’s side in the last few months, netting against Chelsea and Leicester City, as well as grabbing an assist in the win over United.
Add in his tireless work rate and predatory instincts in front of goal, and the 27-year-old deserves to retain his place against the Cherries, and surely has to now given the recent setback suffered by Slimani.
And against a Bournemouth side that have kept just one clean sheet in their last 14 Premier League matches, and in that time have shipped 27 goals including four against Huddersfield Town last week, there will be opportunities for Newcastle. And who better to get on the end of them than Gayle.
While Slimani’s injury will certainly be a blow to Benitez, in Gayle he has a forward who is improving under his guidance and carries a genuine goal threat whenever he is in the final third of the pitch.
And against a Cherries team not renowned for being the best defence in the league, selecting the Englishman could seriously reap the rewards for the North East outfit this afternoon.
Newcastle fans… what do you think? Let us know!