Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has called on his goal-shy side to rediscover their scoring touch ahead of what he described as a season-defining trip to Newcastle on Saturday.
The Cherries have scored just six times from their opening 10 Premier League fixtures and head to St James’ Park above only Crystal Palace in the table.
Following defeats against Tottenham and Chelsea last month, Bournemouth’s visit to the promoted Magpies is the first in a run of six matches – which include fixtures against struggling Swansea and Palace – in which Howe hopes his team can turn their stuttering campaign around.
“These games will define our season in the respect of what kind of season we’ll go on to have,” Howe said. “We’ve had a tough start, but then every start in the Premier League is a tough one, but we go into these games looking to pick up points.
“In the Premier League finding ways to pick up points will always be an indicator of how you do, and we haven’t done that well enough so far.
“We’ve scored six goals, that’s not enough and we’ve not been potent enough in the final third. That is not down to one individual, but as a team. We’ve always been a team that has attacked with everyone and we need to get our fluidity back in that sense.”
Bournemouth will be without Benik Afobe and Junior Stanislas on Saturday – both were injured in the defeat against Chelsea last weekend – but Callum Wilson is back in the reckoning after a 15-month lay-off following a serious knee injury.
The Cherries finished an impressive ninth in only their second season in England’s top flight, but after a testing start – which has included defeats against Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs – the south coast club are languishing in the relegation places.
And with just two league victories so far this season, Howe has conceded that his side’s confidence has been affected.
“Maybe it’s taken a jolt,” Howe added. “But now it’s not so much of an issue as our performances have been a lot stronger.
“You reflect on the recent games and the points we could have had – even against Chelsea we could have drawn and come out of the game in high spirits.
“Scoring goals breeds confidence and we’re working on that but I don’t think it’s a huge issue in terms of confidence at this stage.”