West Ham (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

Just a few weeks on from us reflecting on our worst start to the season for over 100 years, we weren’t far from cloud nine on Monday night, with the final whistle at Turf Moor signalling our third win on the trot, taking us up to 13th and FOUR clear of the drop zone all of a sudden.

It was a game we should’ve won much more comfortably, but that’s almost a positive sign given we have often struggled to create chances away from home this season.

This weekend we welcome an out of sorts West Ham side who’ve won just ONCE in their last seven – although they’re bound to find form soon enough, with a generous set of festive fixtures, a top manager in Pellegrini and a squad full of talented players after some big spending over the summer.

It’s fair to say tomorrow will be decided on what NUFC side turns up. Play like we did against Leicester and Brighton (two home defeats to nil) and we’ll be put away, but there’s been more evidence recently to suggest we could get the better of West Ham – with us beating better sides in Watford and Bournemouth in our last two at home.

Preferred XI

As ever, here’s the team I’d like to see, followed by the side I expect Rafa to go with:



Benitez is facing TWO big dilemmas ahead of this one:

1) Does he stick with five/three at the back (as used at Burnley) or revert to 4-2-3-1; a system that’s got us back to back wins at home?

2) Now they’re fit, does he bring Lascelles or Shelvey back into a winning team?

Personally, I’m hoping he sticks with the side that beat Burnley – although I would be in favour of him putting Lascelles in for Clark, with he, Fernandez and Schar clearly looking like our best three CB’s when fit (while Lejeune is still out at least).

Five at the back may seem negative, but we created so many chances at Burnley and looked good both on the ball and off it. Not only that, this system allows us to be strong defensively without the ball, and expansive offensively on the ball – as displayed below:

Shelvey’s back, but there’s no way he should be dislodging Ki OR Diame from that team after how impressive they were at Burnley.

Perez, Kenedy and Yedlin – three players who’ve had real ups and downs this season – were all much better on Monday night, so let’s hope we get more of the same from them.

Predicted NUFC team – (3-4-2-1) – Dubravka – Schar, Fernandez, Clark – Yedlin, Ki, Diame, Ritchie – Kenedy, Perez – Rondon.

The Opposition

Here’s a few ‘ones to watch’ in this West Ham side:

Marko Arnautovic: The enigmatic Austrian hasn’t been training much, has been on pain-killing injections and was initially a doubt for this one, but he’s now been passed fit. He’s their match winner and their main man, but work rate is often questionable, so it will be interesting to see which Arnautovic turns up.

Felipe Anderson: The Brazilian winger cost them just shy of £40m over the summer and has been coming into form of late, with four goals in the league so far. DeAndre Yedlin will need to be on his game.

Isaa Diop: The big French centre-back cost them £22m over the summer and he looks the part – with PSG already linked with big money moves to sign him in January. Salomon Rondon has a tough task on his hands, with Diop looking quick, strong and good on the ground.

Lukasz Fabianski: One of the best goalkeepers outside the top 6. A brilliant shot stopper and the sort of keeper who, on his day, looks like nothing will get past him.

Predicted West Ham XI  (4-2-3-1) – Fabianski – Zabaleta, Diop, Balbuena, Cresswell – Noble, Rice – Anderson, Antonio, Diangana – Arnautovic. 

Team news

Paul Dummett has been ruled out once again with a hamstring injury – however Rafa said he was ‘very close’ – with Jonjo ShelveyJamaal Lascelles and Yoshinori Muto all in contention again after returning to training.

Florian Lejeune was in full training again this week but this one will come too soon for him again.

For West Ham, Marko Arnautovic has overcome a knock after being initially rated as a doubt, while Andy Carroll and Jack Wilshere could be on the bench after months out.

Winston Reid (Knee), Carlos Sanchez (Knee), Andriy Yarmolenko (Achilles), Manuel Lanzini (ACL) and Ryan Fredericks (Fibula) are all ruled out with longer term injuries.

Match Prediction

With us winning three on the spin and them winning just once in seven, we are quite clearly the form team coming into this one, with an added spring in our step on the back of a well deserved 2-1 win at Burnley on Monday.

That said, they have a talented group of players at West Ham and an experienced manager, so a part of me feels like they’re going to get onto something good soon enough, however they still look a bit fragile to me and a soft touch.

If we can get into them, play with the intensity we’ve shown in the last three AND keep creating chances as we have done recently, I think we may have a bit much for them – but we can’t be complacent with the quality they possess.

Head says 2-2 but I’ve often said draws and we’ve then won, so I’m following my heart this time and saying we’ll win again!

Prediction: Newcastle 2-1 West Ham

 

Pre-game punts

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

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

54 thoughts on “West Ham (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

  1. Second attempt to post this, was half way through my last post when yet again got redirected to a link showing a fake ? window message saying my computer was infected with a virus ! 2 further pop up boxes came up. You can not click off or return to this page or shut down the pc. Had to shut down pc at wall socket 👿
    This only happens on this site Olly ?

    Hard to predict this game, can’t see Arnautovic not scoring tbh, need to be on it today.
    Hard earned draw for me.
    Right I’m away now , as really don’t trust this site anymore. May attempt comments during game.

      (Quote)

  2. Eric, what’s this Almiron like? Seems Rafa is keen. Be surprised if we sign him like for that money but seems to be legs in it.

    As for today, it’s a game most fans are expecting something from. Usually means we will be completely underwhelming.

    Think 1-1

      (Quote)

  3. Stuart: I have only watched Almiron twice and he has been exceptional both times. You always have to wonder about the quality of opposition because even Rooney is doing well in MLS.

    He’s a bit scrawny which leads a lot of pundits to say he will not suited to the PL. Who knows. Mesut Ozil isn’t exactly a tank or Santi Cazorla? Peter Crouch?

      (Quote)

  4. I would stick with the 3 at the back. I’d probably stick with the 11 that started against Burnley too, I know Lascelles and Shelvey are 2 of our better players, but it should be stay loyal to a winning team.

      (Quote)

  5. Stuart79:
    Eric, what’s this Almiron like? Seems Rafa is keen. Be surprised if we sign him like for that money but seems to be legs in it.

    As for today, it’s a game most fans are expecting something from. Usually means we will be completely underwhelming.

    Think 1-1

    Stu – don’t read too much into us going out to America to try and strike a deal – I don’t know when that’s ever worked out. Didn’t we send someone out to sign PEA, we’ve sent some over to Holland for Bony I think, and who can forget Loic Remy?!
    I think the lad is quality, but I’d be amazed if we sign him – 1. Because of the fee, and 2. Because there are other ‘bigger’ clubs reportedly interested in him.
    He could well be seen as Ramsey’s replacement at Arsenal.

      (Quote)

  6. Wolves clearly have talented players in there side, but do they have players with grit?. Having just lost to Huddersfield and now Cardiff last night, have we given them too much credit? I’m not sure they are relegation candidates, but maybe survival for them won’t be as easy as we may have thought for them.

      (Quote)

  7. I think 4-2-3-1 is a foolish move against a front 3 of Arnautovic, Hernandez and Anderson.
    I think the CBs and Diame sat in front of them would have been better equipped to snuff them out and stop them playing. But with the forward players we had (including the wing backs) would have been good enough to win the game.

    I hope I’m wrong, but I think that change in formation and playing Manquillo has made this much harder – and if I were Pelligrini I’d be telling his players to target Manquillo

      (Quote)

  8. Not trying to jinx anything but Rice and Noble in midfield don’t worry me.

    Listening to Radio Newcastle. Since when is John Anderson a LEGEND? They throw that label out willy nilly.

      (Quote)

  9. I know some might think I am being picky criticizing the Chronic for calling Mick Quinn a legend and Radio Newcastle doing the same with Anderson. I think it cheapens the label for real legends like Shearer, Keegan, McDonald and Beardsley. I think Quinn played like 3 seasons and they were mainly division 2.

      (Quote)

  10. Eric Sykes:
    Not trying to jinx anything but Rice and Noble in midfield don’t worry me.

    Listening to Radio Newcastle. Since when is John Anderson a LEGEND? They throw that label out willy nilly.

    Eric – you might not rate them mate but them 2 and Snodgrass in midfield will do all the graft and allow the likes of Hernandez, Arnautovic and Anderson to focus solely on offence.

    That said, this is a fixture we could and should be winning. I’m really annoyed with Rafa pi$$ing about with the team to bring Manquillo in – Shelvey or Lascelles I could understand (though I think the team shouldn’t have been changed) but not the worst full back we have.

      (Quote)

  11. Well that was ****… normal service resumed then… Perez runs a lot but cannot hit a barn door with a banjo. Not holding out much hope today … ☹️

      (Quote)

  12. Just saw the goal. We had 3 on 2 and Hernandez was still unmarked. A lot of miscommunication. Might teach some people to stop anointing our defenders the next Beckenbauer after a couple of wins.

    That has been a feature of our play this season, leaving people unmarked. Especially from set plays. We haven’t let in that many but we have been lucky on quite a few occasions – that for Palace open net etc.

      (Quote)

  13. And now Rafa is back to pi$$ing Ritchie off – hooked on 55mins for Atsu – Ritchie is steaming – clearly not injured and he’s been playing well.

      (Quote)

  14. Hells bells WH could have had another couple there. God I’m raging watching this – I just don’t get what Rafa is playing at????

      (Quote)

  15. I am not watching the game but we played well with a back 3 and wing backs and I don’t really understand why we didn’t stick with it. When Chelsea won the league they were leaking goals until they changed to a back 3 and the rest is history. Has Rafa out-tacticed himself this time?

      (Quote)

  16. I’d be interested to hear what happened with the 11th minute protest. Where did they wait? How many participated? How long did it actually take them to get in?

      (Quote)

  17. That was F.UCKING dreadful. Absolute … total … S.hite.. 😡😡😡😡😡😡

    No heart, no soul, no skill, no desire… f.ucking pile of cr.ap.

      (Quote)

  18. kimtoon:
    Sharpy, at least Fatty won’t be feeling so comfy anymore, he only just put his wallet back in his pocket.

    Kim – do you really think it would make a difference either way?.
    I really don’t care about Ashley or his intentions for January to be honest. I have next to no confidence he will put money up in January and little more confidence that Rafa will spend it well even if he does.
    But there are a lot of points between now and then anyway and these were 3 we had a chance of getting – and maybe more importantly, could have kept that winning momentum going.
    0-3 at home against WHU is a thumping and we went back to looking pi$$ poor.

    Rafa is an idiot for changing it today like.

      (Quote)

  19. Eric Sykes:
    I’d be interested to hear what happened with the 11th minute protest. Where did they wait? How many participated? How long did it actually take them to get in?

    I think there was about 5 people came in late… probably wish they had bothered to come in at all.

      (Quote)

  20. Dubai Toon: I think there was about 5 people came in late… probably wish they had bothered to come in at all.

    They can wait for the Wolves game then 🙂 Magpie Group said 3 weeks ago they expected 25,000 to boycott. I said yesterday that they should cancel and that today would be an embarrassment.

    Wasn’t expecting the game itself to be such an embarrassment but I totally disagree with matchday stadium protests as it sets a bad tone. Demonstrate on Northumberland St or call Sports Direct, just keep your negativity away from the ground.

      (Quote)

  21. kimtoon:
    Comprehensive walloping this.
    Ah well
    still **** then.

    Kim – I disagree. I don’t think it’s a case of still $hit then. The team was set up in a formation that doesn’t get the best out of the group of players he has. It was an awful decision to go back to 4-2-3-1. He should have known WH would go 4-3-3 coz they have the last few games (maybe not the same players, but same formation). Ki and Mo were always gonna get overrun by their 3 midfielders and 2 CBs with a RB who’s better going forward than defending and bringing back in one of the worst FBs I’ve ever seen in a B&W shirt against 3 quality forwards. It was naive and he has to be held to account for his poor decision making imo.

      (Quote)

  22. Worth pointing out West Ham spent about £55m in the two players who made a big difference. Anderson and Autounivich or whatever he’s called.

      (Quote)

  23. A few weeks ago I thought we might get 15 points by Christmas. I am a bit more positive now even after a bad result. I reckon 20 after Man U and that will give us a good chance of survival, mainly because we have a tough January. 16-19 and it will be touch and go. Either way, I think the Fatman has to put his chubby hand into his pocket.

      (Quote)

  24. Share – you still seem to think Rafa should be buying better players with no money.

    We clactually created just as many chances as them – we just couldn’t finish because the quality isn’t there. Criticise Rafa by all means but you need to give good reasons for your criticism. It’s about goals and we don’t score them. That’s not Rafas fault.

      (Quote)

  25. I don’t care that it was only Burnley, I think the 3 CBs and 2 Wing Backs suited our personnel and we should have stuck with it. One thing I do not understand about Rafa is that he is loathe to change things during a game. He could have started with the Burnley system and then switched to 4-2-3-1 if it wasn’t working.

    Still need a striker, and from the highlights Perez needs some time off. I think that is 1 goal in 15 which is simply not good enough, especially when our midfielders don’t score either.

      (Quote)

  26. At least we have a guaranteed 3 points on January 2nd.

    Man U 2 down after 20 minutes. I was banking on Southampton getting relegated.

      (Quote)

  27. Stuart79:
    Share – you still seem to think Rafa should be buying better players with no money.

    We clactually created just as many chances as them – we just couldn’t finish because the quality isn’t there. Criticise Rafa by all means but you need to give good reasons for your criticism. It’s about goals and we don’t score them. That’s not Rafas fault.

    Stu – you may not agree but changing a winning side and formation to bring in Manquillo – who hasn’t even had a good game for us is good reason. Against Burnley we looked defensively sound and offensively threatening – Clark may not be everyone cup of tea, but he played well enough to get another start – and the 3 CBs worked well together overall.
    Can you offer any logical reason as to why he would have changed that to bring Manquillo in?.
    Can you offer any reason why he keeps taking Ritchie off – our most creative player in terms of crosses for Rondon, and one of the hardest working players we have – and keeps putting Atsu on – who so far has done nothing when he comes on?.

      (Quote)

  28. Southampton are 2-0 up and out playing Man U.

    90 million on Pogba and 80 million on Lukaku FFS.

    How much has Jose spent – 400 million?

    I know we are sometimes shyte but Rafa has had a negative net spend in his time with us.

      (Quote)

  29. Stuart: we are not getting a striker in January because there just aren’t any available so we have to make do with Muto and Rondon. Perez needs a rest. If we get Almiron he is more a creator than scorer.

    Need Dummett back or else I agree with Sharpy and we should go back to 3 CBs.

      (Quote)

  30. 2-2

    Oh well, shows you how crap Southampton really are. I find it difficult to root for Man U but I want Southampton to lose.

      (Quote)

  31. Eric Sykes:
    Southampton are 2-0 up and out playing Man U.

    90 million on Pogba and 80 million on Lukaku FFS.

    How much has Jose spent – 400 million?

    I know we are sometimes shyte but Rafa has had a negative net spend in his time with us.

    Eric – a point I have always acknowledged – he has still spent £120m in his time with us though and how many of his signings have really improved the team?.
    Added to that, Manquillo was one of his.
    But this neither about the money he’s had or players he’s brought in for me, this is his tactical decision making and switching the formation when last week (or Monday) seemed to suit the players he has – even Ritchie who was out of position at LWB.
    His strongest position in the squad is CB – he has 5 very decent ones at his disposal. One of the weakest is FB and LB in particular – so to take a solid player out the team for a weak one – I just don’t get in.

      (Quote)

  32. We should not buy Rondón or Kenedy. Rondón was a bit better today than against Burnley but he is not going to get any faster at his age. Perez I don’t want to watch anymore. Ki is great we have got a bargain there. Rafa must find room for Roberts but will he? We are absolutely awful up front. Atsu can also go for me. Sorry to be so down. We did play some nice approach play but we were terrible in the final third and never looked like scoring.

      (Quote)

  33. Does Rafa get credit for changing the formation when we win? Were anybody waxing lyrical about his change to 3 at the back on Monday? I can only assume he made that change due to something he saw in Burnley and then did the same again as he saw something in West Ham. It didn’t work but imo it wasn’t due to the formation change. It was because we didn’t take our chances and they did.

    Sharpy – you talk about money spent but he’s brought in more than that in sales and players who he’s sold to finance his purchases aren’t generally of a high standard due to the limit the club have on transfer spends. West Ham spent £100m in 3 months. Compare that to Rafas £120m in three years. They also didn’t have to sell any of their better players to spend the money to.

    It always comes down to money in the end and quality.

    I will concede about the Ritchie substations though. I don’t understand it.

      (Quote)

  34. Aubamayang proving what a shrewd football owner Mike Ashley is. Jabba refuses to sanction his signing because he was more than £12m. At the time his club wanted £14m.

    Very wise, Mike.

      (Quote)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green