Newcastle United welcome West Ham United to St James’ Park for this Sunday 3pm kick-off on the banks of the Tyne.
As Zoe has pointed out in an earlier article, this is a game that is saddled with sub-plots as numerous players, and indeed both managers, feature against their respective former clubs.
In the black and white corner we have Alan Pardew and Demba Ba, who managed and played for the Hammers respectively, whilst in the claret and blue corner we have Sam Allardyce, Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll who now ply their trade in East London after spells in the North East.
There is plenty to prove on both sides of the divide come tomorrow afternoon. Sam Allardyce will be wanting to show that Newcastle made a mistake by disposing of his services just eight months after he was hired. Kevin Nolan will be wanting to show that he was deserving of a new deal, and Andy Carroll will be wanting to show that he can still score in the Premier League – his last competitive goal came in Euro 2012 against Sweden.
Meanwhile Alan Pardew will be keen to demonstrate he has moved on from the club he once took back to the Premier League and to an FA Cup final, whilst Demba Ba will be keen to show that he made the right decision to move from Upton Park following their relegation a couple of seasons ago.
Fabricio Coloccini starts his three game ban after his dismissal against Liverpool last week, whilst Cheik Tiote completes the final game of his three game ban for his sending off against Sunderland. James Perch is out with a thigh injury whilst Danny Simpson is doubtful with a shoulder problem. Dan Gosling, Ryan Taylor and Haris Vuckic are still all sidelined.
The good news is that Yohan Cabaye is fine after limping off at Anfield last week and even managed a late cameo against Club Brugge on Thursday. Demba Ba should also be fit after limping out in that same game although he was left at home midweek as a precaution.
James Collins and James Tomkins will undergo fitness tests ahead of the match to ascertain whether they are fit enough to play. Guy Demel could return after overcoming a hernia problem, but Ricardo Vaz Te, Matt Taylor and Jack Collison are definitely out.
It’s been a while since West Ham visited St James’ Park owing to their relegation and subsequent promotion back to the Premier League. The last time they played on Tyneside was in January 2011 when they lost 5-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Leon Best.
You have to go back 14 years to find their last success on Tyneside – a 3-0 win for the Hammers on Halloween night in 1998. However that result is one rare bright spot in what has generally been years of misery in the North East for West Ham. In 61 games at St James’ Park in all competitions, West Ham have won just eight games compared to Newcastle’s 34 victories.
Overall Newcastle have the better head-to-head record. Of 121 meetings in all competitions, Newcastle have won 49, West Ham 37, with the 35 results being a draw, obviously.
Stats and facts:
Newcastle are looking for their 50th victory over West Ham in all competitions.
Newcastle are unbeaten when they’ve scored the first goal in a match this season but are yet to win when conceding the first goal of the game. The last time Newcastle came from behind to win a match was against West Ham at Upton Park over two years ago.
West Ham haven’t won outside London this season. Their only away league triumph came at Loftus Road.
West Ham have scored in the first half of a game just four times so far this season.
Sam Allardyce won eight of his 24 games in charge of Newcastle giving him a win percentage of 33.33%. Alan Pardew’s winning percentage at Newcastle is 40.96% having guided his side to victory in 34 of his 83 matches in charge.
Once more we are likely to see a return to a stronger starting line up after our European exploits. Steven Taylor will come back in to the team after only appearing from the bench in Brugge on Thursday, and will team up with Mike Williamson due to the absence of Fabricio Coloccini.
If Danny Simpson makes the game he will come back in at right-back with Vurnon Anita, who is starting to look like he is starting to find his feet at last, moved into central midfield to partner Yohan Cabaye. Jonas Gutierrez and Hatem Ben Arfa both missed out completely in midweek but will likely take a place on the left and right wing respectively while Papiss Cisse, and unused substitute in Belgium, will more than likely partner a fit again Demba Ba up front.
The only change to that team I can see is if Danny Simpson doesn’t make the game. Without James Perch we are short of cover both in midfield and at right-back so one way around that is to play Anita in Simpson’s place again with perhaps a start for young Gael Bigirimana in midfield.
I hate these games with all these sub-plots and you can bet your bottom dollar that players and managers returning to St James’ Park will want to prove a point, especially Kevin Nolan, who has seen fit to complain about life on Tyneside after he has moved, and after he played a large part in “selling” a move to Liverpool to Andy Carroll. No doubt Nolan will want to prove he was worthy of a longer deal at St James’ Park…
However Newcastle have to rise above all this and get a win that would see up jump up at least one league position, leapfrogging the Hammers in the process. In fact a win for Newcastle could see them hit the top six if every result goes their way this weekend, but first things first we need to sort our own house and worry about the rest later.
Results haven’t been too bad this season, but the performances have left a lot to be desired and sooner or later that needs to be addressed. Mind you, it’s also worth pointing out that we only really started playing well after Christmas last season so all is not lost yet.
Three points is a must though.
Howay the lads!
Date: Sunday, 11th November, 2012
Time: 3pm UK time
Venue: St James’ Park