West Ham (A): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted XI’s

I don’t like to build up games too much given we’re only half way into the season, but this for me is our biggest one yet.

We slipped into the relegation zone last weekend, with big away wins for Palace (0-3), Huddersfield (1-4) and West Ham (0-3) giving us a slightly frightening example of just what we’re up against in this fight for survival.

Getting a result in this one is essential. Win and we’d leapfrog the Hammers and almost certainly get our confidence back, but lose and it’d start to look unbearably grim for us down at the bottom.

With Swansea (20th) playing Palace (14th), Stoke (17th) playing West Brom (19th), Brighton at home to an out of form Watford and Southampton facing Huddersfield, it’s a weekend where those around us are sure to pick up points. We cannot afford to be the team who comes home empty handed once again.

We showed some positive signs in the 1-0 defeat at Arsenal, fighting to the end and competing better than we have done, however points keep you up, not performances, and we’re in desperate need of a few to get to that 20 point target before the year is out.



 

The Team

Rotation will commence soon enough, but I don’t anticipate too many changes from the side that lost to Arsenal for this one.

Elliot to continue in goal. He did well at Arsenal on his return and is our most reliable option.

 I expect Lascelles to partner Lejeune again. The latter had a few unconvincing moments in the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal, but the return of the skipper appears to have stopped the rot as far as shipping goals are concerned.
 Dummett could make a return at left-back, however I’m unsure if Rafa will throw him back in, meaning we could see Manquillo once again. He doesn’t seem to fancy Mbemba despite him tending to do a decent job.
Yedlin did well at Arsenal and looked far more switched on that he has in recent weeks. They were way below their best, but he kept Sanchez relatively quiet which is no mean feat.

With Shelvey serving the last game of his two-match ban, you’d think Merino and Hayden will operate in front of the back four once again. The Spaniard was sensational at the Emirates last week. Having him back to his best could be huge with the Hammers set to be without influential midfielders Noble and Lanzini.

Ritchie was rested last week so he’ll no doubt return. He made a real impact off the bench last week so hopefully he’s back ‘at it’ after a quiet few weeks by his standards. It’s essential he’s back at his best – especially without Shelvey’s creativity.
It’s then a toss up between Murphy and Atsu on the other flank. Both showed glimpses last weekend but struggled with their final ball. I’d favour Atsu for this one, with him having the beating of the ageing Zabaleta every time he ran at him in the 3-0 win at St James’ back in August.
Perez has been criticised a lot this season but he put in a good shift at Arsenal, doing more than just run around. He carried the ball, drew fouls and made a nuisance of himself.
I read post-Arsenal that Joselu won an incredible 21 aerial duels last weekend (more than any other PL player that gameweek), but that and decent work rate was just about all he offered last week. He needs to offer much more of a goal threat and improve his build up play if we’re to trouble a West Ham defence that’ve shut out Arsenal and Chelsea in their last two home games.
Dwight Gayle is an obvious option to unlock the door, but we’re yet to win a single point this season in the 8 games he’s started! Make of that what you will.

The Opposition

I saw Paul Merson say we might not be able to handle Marko Arnautovic in this one. The £25m man has scored 2 in his last three, but they are his only two goals for the club since his record breaking move. He’s got that arrogance and maverick mentality about him, so he’ll either score two and be the match winner or barely get a kick all game. He’s that sort of player.

A random one, but wing-back Arthur Masauku has impressed me massively whenever I’ve watched them recently. He plays on the left of their 4-man midfield in their 3-4-2-1 system. He’ll run at us and look to whip crosses in down Ritchie/Yedlin’s side.

Adrian has been in inspired form since his return to the side in goal. He’s a keeper Rafa was linked with over the summer, so hopefully he doesn’t put in a performance that leaves us wondering what might have been. I’d far prefer to see Joe Hart between their sticks!

Lanzini and Noble are key players – with the former assisting all three of their goals in their latest 3-0 win at Stoke – however both are ruled out, as is Antonio by all acc ounts. A welcome boost given he’s a player with the pace and power to hurt any team.

CLICK HERE for an inside look at our opponents from a West Ham perspective in this week’s  ‘Opposition Opinion’ piece. A recommended read before tomorrow’s game.

 

Form

Newcastle – 18th (15 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 0 / Drawn: 1 / Lost: 4

West Ham – 15th – (17 pts) – Last 5 in the league /  Won: 2  / Drawn: 1 / Lost: 2

Team News

Shelvey banned, Mitrovic and Gamez missing through injury and Paul Dummett in contention to return to the squad.

For the Hammers, key trio Mark Noble (hamstring), Manuel Lanzini (diving ban) and Michail Antonio (calf) look set to miss out.

Predicted Line-ups

Newcastle XI – (4-2-3-1) – Elliot – Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Manquillo – Merino, Hayden – Ritchie, Perez, Atsu– Joselu

West Ham XI – (3-4-2-1) – Adrian – Reid, Collins, Ogbonna– Zabaleta, Kouyate, Obiang, Masauku – Ayew, Arnautovic– Sakho.

 

Head-to-Heads

We tend to beat them at home, but we’ve failed to score in our last few away trips to West Ham. This will be our first visit to the ‘London Stadium’ however so hopefully that changes.

 

Match Prediction

 

This is a huge game for both sides. With that in mind, I expect a cagey game and one that’ll be settled by the odd goal if there’s to be a winner.

A win would be the perfect Christmas present to give us a much needed confidence boost and get us back on track, but I’m not too sure where the goals are coming from at the moment.

I think they’ll struggle without Lanzini, Noble and Antonio and I think we’ll come away from this one with a point – which wouldn’t be the win we crave, but would keep us ticking over in a game we can’t afford to lose.

Prediction: West Ham 0-0 Newcastle

Howay the lads!

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Born in Gateshead, Olly was a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan – he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

52 thoughts on “West Ham (A): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted XI’s

  1. NOT a new thread but worth a read ⬇️ This week’s chat with a West Ham fan for the ‘Opposition Opinion’. Give it a read folks – I’ve been considering making these a ‘featured’ piece each week but don’t know how that’d work given the match preview and this piece tend to be posted on the same day

    http://www.nufcblog.co.uk/2017/12/22/the-opposition-opinion-west-ham-a/

    Give it a read and comment on the above threat with any thoughts (keep discussion on here though).

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  2. thanks Olly, hate these nerve shredding affairs, surely we are due both a win and change of luck by now ?
    Would settle for a point being away from home but really want the 3.

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  3. kimtoon:
    Olly, the site keeps telling me I have made a duplicate comment ?

    That’s happening to me also mate,also page keeps re-loading while type ping comment👹

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  4. The Chronic are reporting that Aarons is available in January. I hope it is only for a loan because most times I have seen him he has produced something out of nothing. That’s different to most of our other forwards who produce nothing out of something – yes, that means you Joeselu and Perez and Atsu to an extent because he has Sissoko-itus, i.e. does all the hard work and then fluffs the final ball.

    Aarons must be cheap as well because he signed as a 20 year old when he was coming off a major injury. I just don’t see the point of selling him if it will be for a couple of million.

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  5. Nobody is raving about Tom Cairney anymore. He is probably a decent player but they were wanting 25 million for a player with 1 game in the PL.

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  6. Apart from Aarons, the Chronic named the usual suspects as players Rafa wanted to sell. Yes we bloody well know that Colback, Hadiara, Saivet and Diame are surplus to requirements!!!!

    Typical Chronic lazy journalism. What is of consequence is whether Rafa is wanting to shift Shelvey, Mbemba, Mitro or Gayle. They are the one’s that would actually bring in real money and would reshape the squad. The ones mentioned in the Chronic are peripheral so who fcking cares. I know I bang on about the Chronic and they have to fill up space and get clicks but write something that is meaningful. Are there actually any offers for Mitro? Are the Championship playoff teams interested in Gayle? Make a few phone calls, ask your contacts.

    Icedog on here has more information than the Chronic.

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  7. Icedog on here has more information than the Chronic.

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    Only because i have a sneaky pal in there,sometime he gets a whisper not always getting it right but as he says it must be talked about to get a whisper

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  8. Can I believe my eyes? I get the impression on here that Rafa is the only manager who’s ever got transfers wrong. He’s probably a 70% success rate manager with his transfers. I think that’s as good as it gets. But I go back to my comment on the previous thread. When he was backed he achieved something that looks more and more impossible. Promotion straight away. Players like Diame, Gamez and Hanley all played their part. Where I feel sorry for him is that he clearly thought he could build a team to get ya out if he Championship and then he would be backed to build a team for the PL. when actually he’s been left with his championship players.

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  9. Somebody should be sacked at Chelsea. I watched Salah for Roma quite a bit last year and thought he was brilliant. Now Liverpool are reaping the benefits. What idiot sold De Bruyne and Lukaku? I don’t think it was Mourinho as they have a Director of Football.

    Bloody hell Mignolet!

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  10. Stuart79:
    Can I believe my eyes? I get the impression on here that Rafa is the only manager who’s ever got transfers wrong. He’s probably a 70% success rate manager with his transfers. I think that’s as good as it gets. But I go back to my comment on the previous thread. When he was backed he achieved something that looks more and more impossible. Promotion straight away. Players like Diame, Gamez and Hanley all played their part. Where I feel sorry for him is that he clearly thought he could build a team to get ya out if he Championship and then he would be backed to build a team for the PL. when actually he’s been left with his championship players.

    We all knew it though. There have always been doubts about Gayle in the PL. So much so they were willing to sell him in the last week of the transfer window.

    What the hell are Liverpool doing !!!!

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  11. I suppose Rafa may have thought Joselu could play the Emile Heskey role. He looks good in the build up but as soon as he has a sight of goal he fluffs his lines. There also isn’t a Michael Owen, Torres or even Dirk Kuyt.

    I don’t think all of our players are crap, we just need that extra bit of quality to raise the whole team. Rafa’s record at Liverpool was quite good but there were a few failures. Having Gerrard and Xavi Alonso in their prime helped a bit 🙂

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  12. One week until the transfer window opens and Rafa still doesn’t know what his budget is! Can someone please tell me how any manager on the planet is suppose to succeed under these conditions?

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  13. Olly Hawkins:
    This week’s chat with a West Ham fan for the ‘Opposition Opinion’. Give it a read folks – I’ve been considering making these a ‘featured’ piece each week but don’t know how that’d work given the match preview and this piece tend to be posted on the same day.

    http://www.nufcblog.co.uk/2017/12/22/the-opposition-opinion-west-ham-a/

    Give it a read and comment on the above threat with any thoughts (keep discussion on here though).

    I think it would be fine maybe the day before the matchbthread mate. They are a good read.

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  14. Benitez has said he basically needs to sell to buy if he is going to have a decent budget. Thats probably fair because as usual we are carrying a lot of dead wood. I suspect a deal for Mitro is already in place, hence his injury. He is playing hard ball with the squad members that he wants to replace. I just hope deals are done quickly so that ee can crack on…

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  15. Sham, he’s had a conference call with Jabba too and he still doesn’t know his budget! It’s farcical. How on Earth are the scouts suppose to plan for this?

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  16. Stu it’s a bit late surely. I’d expect the players to have already been approached, terms agreed etc by now. Not possible if Rafa still has no idea about a budget…

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  17. Each target will slowly but surely fall by the wayside. Rafa will have done his work like he did in the summer and then the clubs/players demands will become apparent and the club will say “can’t afford that, prices are mental”

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  18. Well, didn’t Jabbas team say if we weren’t sold by Christmas the club would be taken off the market ?, soon find out then lads and lasses.

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  19. mind that KEYS must really hate Rafa he has really stuck the knife in all the toon problems are down to him he should be removed jabba has given him 110mil since hes been there ect ect,even over -rode Bellamy who tried to defend him

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  20. Ice , he’s a ****, who understands nowt about football and what he does know is the warped version his mate gray has taught him.
    Pair of fecking useless muppets, who belong well in the past .

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  21. Hi all, watching the Everton match at the moment. Nervous today. These games against the bottom teams are getting more and more vital and we keep blowing it. Really need a win today just to build some confidence for the Christmas fixtures.

    No chance to go to a match this time as I’m staying in Dubai over Christmas for the first time. Maybe just as well.

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  22. kimtoon:
    Ice, He’s a red isn’t he, hence the Rafa hate .
    Typical Manure mentality really

    Aye mate and we all know what the pair think of women,tossers

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  23. No Merino… 😳. Saivet starts with Diame in midfield and going 442 with Gayle and Joselu. Lejeune dropped and Clark in with Lascelles.

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  24. There is a trial on at the moment for the guy who bombed the Dortmund bus, which Merino was on… could be why he is not even on the bench.

    Doesn’t look good for us today with that midfield.

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  25. That’s the weakest team I’ve seen us put out in decades. No chance of anything today.
    Manqillo, Daime, Saivet,Joselu. None of them should be playing. Dreadful.

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  26. That’s why Saivet doesn’t get in the team…. 😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡

    Now we have a real challenge

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  27. Well finally managed to get back on, this site would not load, really frustrating and it’s every match day this happens lately.

    Good result so far, no less than we deserve by sounds of it.

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  28. Get in… we needed that. Saivet did really well after that initial fault. Site was really bad.

    Ref gave us nothing in that game. Even their pen looked outside the area. Well done to Eliot saving the pen. Great team effort.

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  29. Dubai Toon:
    Get in… we needed that. Saivet did really well after that initial fault. Site was really bad.

    Ref gave us nothing in that game. Even their pen looked outside the area. Well done to Eliot saving the pen. Great team effort.

    No hero. Team work is all we have.

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  30. funrafa: No hero. Team work is all we have.

    Rafa – that’s the point I’ve been making for the past few weeks now. A lack of talent means greater work rate – it won’t pay off every week, but the boys done OK today 👍🏻

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  31. This sites been horrendous today, every matchday it won’t load properly. Ruins the chance to talk to other bloggers during game . Any one else had problems today ?

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  32. Sharpy17: Rafa – that’s the point I’ve been making for the past few weeks now.A lack of talent means greater work rate – it won’t pay off every week, but the boys done OK today
    Agree mate.

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