Eddie Howe is working hard to ensure his Newcastle United players – and his children – are not distracted by the upcoming EFL Cup final.

Howe will return to former club Bournemouth for the first time as Newcastle coach on Saturday, hoping to boost his side’s Champions League hopes and bury the Cherries further in the relegation mire.

But focus on Tyneside has started to drift towards a bigger fixture at the end of the month, when Newcastle will play Manchester United in their first final since 1999.

Howe at least recognises it is not a distraction the Magpies can afford as they cling to a top-four place in the Premier League.

“The final is in two weeks, and there’s two games (before that),” he said. “I’m not thinking about the final at all – other than, like with everyone else around Newcastle, the tickets. I think that’s been the focus of everyone. Obviously we’ve urged the players, and we’ve tried to help the players with that, to make sure that’s not a distraction.

“Apart from that, we can’t look beyond Bournemouth. Once Bournemouth’s done, we can’t look beyond Liverpool. The final build-up will take care of itself in the final week.”

Howe said he’s even prohibited discussion of the final in his own household.

“They’ve got their homework to do,” Howe said of his children. “There’s no talk of the cup final. I’ve banned it from the house.”

Howe had no interest in discussing the pressure on now Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil, who played with his opposite number at Portsmouth and saw qualities that made it “no surprise to see the success he has had in the managerial world”.

Bournemouth badly need results, but O’Neil believes their fans will take a moment to salute Howe.

“I expect him to get the warm welcome his work here deserves,” O’Neil said.


Bournemouth – Dango Outtara

Goals have been hard to come by for Bournemouth since the World Cup, scoring just once as they have taken only a point from six matches. New signing Outtara might be the man to help in that regard, having attempted nine shots across his first two Premier League matches.

Newcastle United – Callum Wilson

Wilson was a reliable Bournemouth scorer in their previous Premier League seasons, but he is now at Newcastle and back on the goal trail after netting against West Ham last week. He will this week aim to become the fourth player to score both for and against the Cherries in the competition.


– After winning two of their first three Premier League games against Newcastle (L1), Bournemouth are now winless in their last six against the Magpies (D3 L3).

– Newcastle have never failed to score in their five away league games against Bournemouth (W2 D2 L1), winning their last visit 4-1 in July 2020.

– Newcastle are unbeaten in their last 16 Premier League games (W9 D7), the longest current run without defeat in the competition. The Magpies have not conceded the first goal in any of their last 14 league games, with Bournemouth the last side to open the scoring against them back in September.

– Bournemouth have conceded more Premier League goals than any other side this season (43), while Newcastle have conceded the fewest in the division (12). Indeed, Bournemouth had conceded as many goals in their first three and a half games as the Magpies have all season.

– After winning just two of his first 10 matches against sides he has formerly managed (D2 L6, all vs Burnley between 2013 and 2020), Howe has won three of his last four against his former clubs (D1).