Another disappointing defeat at the hands of Championship Nottingham Forest on Wednesday ended our hopes of a morale boosting league cup run this season. Newcastle do return to action tomorrow at St. James’ Park for a rare but traditional 3pm kick off.
We have had a week of negative press, more unfounded transfer rumours and members of the media all having a say on NUFC. It is important we get a result to get off the mark and dispel some of the negativity on and off the field at the moment. Newcastle fans will deliver another great atmosphere as usual, which will hopefully make all the difference in a game between two sides who have started the season poorly.
Newcastle team news
Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey is still suspended after his red card against Spurs. Former Stoke striker Joselu could make his first start for Newcastle; Rafa has a big call to make on whether it is he or Dwight Gayle who leads the line. Mitrovic scored a good goal in midweek but just doesn’t appear to be in the manager’s plans.
Aarons is a slight doubt for Saturday after going off with cramp in midweek but could well start after an impressive showing. He will be vying with Atsu and Ritchie to start and it will be interesting to see if he persists with Perez in the number 10 role.
In defence, Dummett remains out and it looks too early for Lejeune to come back yet too. Yedlin may return, which would be a boost, but it is likely to be the same back four that played in the defeat to Huddersfield.
Rafa may opt to go with the same side as our last league game, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see an unchanged side; giving the current crop another chance to impress before new recruits hopefully arrive before the end of August.
Predicted Newcastle XI: Elliott, Mbemba, Clark, Lascelles, Manquillo, Merino, Hayden, Perez, Ritchie, Atsu, Gayle.
West Ham team news
Record signing Marko Arnautovic continues his three-match suspension for a straight red at St Mary’s for an elbow.
Key players such as Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Michail Antonio were rested midweek and are expected to return to Slaven Bilic’s side. Youngster Declan Rice may continue in the middle of the park while the Irons try and bring in a new midfielder, with former NUFC target William Carvalho linked.
Saturday will come too soon for Winston Reid, who is now targeting a return after the international break. Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll are fitness doubts, despite the pair resuming full training. Expect another mixed resorption for big Andy if he does come off the bench.
West Ham XI: Hart, Hart; Zabaleta, Fonte, Ogbonna; Antonio, Noble, Rice, Obiang, Cresswell; Ayew, Hernandez.
Javier Hernandez is a proven Premier League striker after a successful spell at Manchester United and again underlined his quality with a brace at St. Mary’s last time out during the Hammers 3-2 defeat to Southampton. Newcastle need to watch him carefully to get anything out the game.
In the last 13 meetings at St James’ Park between Newcastle and West Ham, the Hammers have won just once.
That victory, a 1-0 success in November 2012, was ensured by Kevin Nolan who of course was a former toon skipper.
Newcastle’s Premier League home record against the Hammers since 2000 is seven wins, five draws and that sole defeat.
It’s a tough one to call and already feels like an important game this season. Both sides are winless and won’t want to lose. Newcastle need some positivity and momentum and any sort of result will hopefully get things going again. I am in danger of going with my heart and not my head here but I think it may end in a draw.
What is your prediction?
Howay the lads!