Newcastle vs Bournemouth predictions: Howe has a roadmap to victory
Bournemouth fans will embark on the most arduous road trip of this season's Premier League when they head to Newcastle on Saturday for the first 'Eddie Howe derby'.
The former Cherries boss seems to be in for the long haul on Tyneside after keeping the Magpies up last season on the back of some sterling home performances.
Liverpool and Manchester City remain the only teams to have found a route to victory at fortress St James' Park in 17 home games since Howe took the reins — so Bournemouth cannot expect an easy ride.
They will start Saturday's game level on points with their hosts after picking up a draw and a win from two games with temporary boss Gary O'Neil in the driver's seat.
After drawing four of their last five top-flight fixtures, Newcastle will see this clash as a superb opportunity to kickstart their campaign.
Howe was tight-lipped on the status of Allan Saint-Maximin, Bruno Guimaraes and Callum Wilson and their respective hamstring injuries in his pre-match press conference.
The French forward remains a doubt to face the Cherries, according to local reports, but Guimaraes has a better chance of returning this weekend.
The Brazilian midfielder has missed the last three games while it is almost a month since Wilson, who limped off midway through his side's 3-3 draw with Manchester City in August, last wore the black and white stripes.
Record signing Alexander Isak looks set to start up front again, despite being frustrated in his attempts to mark his home debut with a goal against Crystal Palace last time out.
Left-back Jamal Lewis is fit again but reserve keeper Karl Darlow has been ruled out after twisting his ankle in training, opening up a space on the bench for new signing Loris Karius.
For Bournemouth, the game has come too soon for Ben Pearson and Joe Rothwell to return from their respective injuries, but Junior Stanislas is available after rejoining first-team training this week.
However, there has been a setback for David Brooks, who felt a tweak in his hamstring after taking part in a development squad game last week.
The Cherries began in a 4-2-3-1 formation against Nottingham Forest last time out, but it was not until O'Neil brought Ryan Fredricks on and switched to a back three that they got on top.
With Newcastle unlikely to play with two out-and-out strikers from the start, however, the interim coach could keep faith with his back four and tweak the midfield options.
Jaidon Anthony, who scored his first ever Premier League goal at the City Ground one minute and 51 seconds after coming off the bench, is pushing to start instead of Ryan Christie on the right-hand side.
Newcastle recorded 20 shots from inside the penalty area in their last game — the 0-0 home draw with Crystal Palace.
By contrast, Bournemouth have the lowest shot total of all Premier League clubs this season (34) — a number that is 22 fewer than the next least on the list.
Nick Pope has made the most saves (28) in the top flight this season.
He has kept two clean sheets at home since he joined the Magpies — making it seven in total for Newcastle in 17 matches at St James' Park under Howe.
Kieran Trippier has provided the third-most crosses in the Premier League this season (50), behind only Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Ward-Prowse.
Chris Mepham has recorded the second-most clearances (42) and headed clearances (21) this season, behind Crystal Palace's Joachim Andersen in both categories.
Newcastle have lost only one of their last 13 home Premier League games, 12 of those coming after Howe had made significant additions in last season's winter transfer window.
The Magpies have a strong core and greater depth that has enabled them to stay competitive when key players are absent.
But if even one of the three big players that have been missing lately are back for this game then the game could be up for Bournemouth's recent revival.
The draw at Wolves owed much to the failings of their hosts while the win at Nottingham Forest came about when the home team collapsed under some desperate pressure.
Newcastle can ensure they return to winning ways by relying on their greater defensive structure to keep a clean sheet.