After a week away, the ‘The Opposition Opposition Opinion’ is back once again ahead of our crucial encounter with West Ham, bringing you some thoughts from East London ahead of tomorrow’s trip to the London Stadium.
Here we’re looking to bring you a view from the other side before tomorrow’s game, interviewing an opposing fan to gain their opinions on NUFC, some insights into their own club and their thoughts on of our upcoming match.
This week we’ve been speaking to Hammers fan Geo, who has had the following to say ahead of our their trip to face David Moyes’ men tomorrow:
Q1) What have you made of your season so far and what sort of shape do you feel you’re coming into Saturday’s game in?
“We started very poorly and by the end of the ‘super’ Slav regime, we weren’t sure where our next points were coming from.
“In came Moyes and he has done well in a short period to get this side organised. He’s gone and got the players effort levels increased at the flick of a switch.
“Our biggest issue for this weekend is Lanzini being banned, who is by far our most creative player. It raises the question as to who will step into that role. If Noble is also missing, our ball retention will suffer drastically without them two”
Q2) What do you make of our start to the season & Newcastle’s current side? Who do you see as our threats & is there any weak links in our team that you feel you can exploit tomorrow?
“Merino has been a superb acquisition for your club. He looks a player destined for bigger things for sure.
“You had a good start but have certainly been very disappointing of late with 8 defeats in 9. You can see what Benitez is trying to do but I’m unsure there is enough ‘game changers’ in your squad.
“As for weaknesses, I’d say your lack of finishing. I won’t claim to watch every Newcastle game, but I’ve seen Perez and Joselu miss enough good opportunities. You get punished in this league.”
Q3) Likewise, who do you feel are the strengths & weaknesses in your West Ham side? Any players for us to watch out for tomorrow for any particular reason?
“Some of our weaknesses will be the same as we saw at St James’ in the 3-0 defeat earlier in the season..
“Zabaleta’s lack of pace for one. It took Atsu about half an hour to realise this in August, but once he had, he simply kept knocking it past and running and it was very effective.
“The middle of our pitch could be iffy should Noble miss out, but our strength is we are now organised at the back and Arnautovic is coming into this one in great form.
“Left-wing back Masauku has been outstanding recently, but also look out for 18-year old midfielder Declan Rice. He will be a big player in years to come.”
Q4) What sort of game do you see it being and how do you see the match panning out? Score prediction?
“Wouldn’t be surprised to see a 0-0 here to be honest for reasons above (our good defence/your lack of finishing).
“My main worry is how we’ll cope without Lanzini’s creativity, however, we have enough strikers and attacking midfielders to do some damage.
“You’ve lost by 1 goal in your last 3 and I think it’ll be another of those.
“1-0 to West Ham, but a boring game.”
Q5) How do you think both our sides will fare over the remainder of the season? Predictions for our rough league position & the three sides you think will be relegated?
“I think we may scrape top half or just miss out. 12th or thereabouts.
“I think you’ll be safe. Your manager is a bit like Dyche – worth a few points a season. I expect you to swerve a serious relegation battle but think you’ll finish just above it – maybe 16th or so.
“Who goes down? I think Swansea and West Brom are bang in trouble already but can see Brighton or Huddersfield being the other side that falls into the bottom 3. I’ll go for Brighton.”
Q6) Andy Carroll – A former Mag whose always linked with a return to Tyneside but is currently with you guys. What are your thoughts on him?
“Personally I still like Andy. Always have but a lot of fans are fed up due to his injuries, high wages and to be honest, he hasn’t been his usually troublesome self for defenders. He finally had run of games and avoided injury but is yet to score.
“His red card at Burnley didn’t help matters at all and while I’d be sorry to see him go – as he had talent – I’ll understand it as there are a lot of questions as to if he still has it and whether he can use it effectively.”
Q7) Adrian – Benitez was desperate for a new keeper over the summer and he recently admitted that Rafa held an interest, however it came to nothing as we know. What are your thoughts on him and us potentially reigniting our interest?
“I think you and other clubs have missed your chance to get Adrian.
“He would have been a steal at the rumoured £5m or so but he’s now our number 1 again after Hart has failed to set the world alight – and due to wages etc, I would expect West Ham to keep Adrian and not pursue Hart permanently.
“Should you go for Adrian if you need a new keeper? Yes. Will you get him? I don’t think so.”
Q8) And finally, what would be your combined XI if you had to pick the best team between our two sides?
“(3-4-2-1) Adrian – Reid, Lascelles, Ogbonna – Zabaleta, Merino, Lanzini, Masuaku – Ritchie, Arnautovic – Hernandez
“Hopefully that isn’t TOO harsh on Newcastle but I don’t watch you guys every week! I really like Merino though!
A nice little look into the opposition ahead of tomorrow’s massive game. They’re in-form, but he clearly feels they might struggling badly without Manuel Lanzini and Mark Noble – although he doesn’t seem particularly phased by our attacking options (especially when they’ve kept clean sheets in their last three!).
Yeh again, we have another opposition fan who likes the look of Mikel Merino, with there only being room for him, Lascelles and Ritchie in his ‘combined XI’ above. Perhaps that shows just where we’re at if only three of our players would get into a side we’re battling relegation with?!
We’ll be back early next week with the thoughts of a Man City fan ahead of Wednesday’s visit daunting of Pep Guardiola’s Man City to St. James’ Park.
In the mean time, have a great Christmas and let’s hope for an early present and much needed result in tomorrow’s huge game with the Hammers- HWTL!