The ‘Opposition Opinion’ is back again ahead of another home game at St James’ Park, with us getting some thoughts from London ahead of today’s game with West Ham.
As ever, we are looking to bring you a view from the other side before this week’s game, interviewing an opposing fan to gain their opinions on NUFC, some insights into their own side and their thoughts on of our upcoming match.
Q1 – What short of shape do you feel West Ham are in coming into this game? You have a big name manager in Pellegrini and have spent big in the summer, but do you feel there’s been much to show for it so far?
“I think all of us West Ham fans expected us to be higher up the table and be in a better position that we are currently. However, even with the hiring of a world-class manager like Pellegrini and spending around £100 million in the summer, we have to be realistic and understand that it will take time for us to get to where we want to be.
“With the injury of Yarmalenko on the right, it has given youngster Grady Diangana an opportunity that he has taken very well.
“Also, at the RB position we are extremely thin going down with Ryan Fredericks out, leaving us only Pablo Zabaleta who is fantastic, but cannot play week in and out.
“With all the chances we create per game (nearly 12 shots on goal per game) and with barely over a goal per game (13 games and 14 goals), we need to put those chances away.
“Finally, considering Arnautovic and Felipe Anderson have contributed to 11 of our 13 goals (9 goals and 2 assists), we need to find them some help going forward. Therefore, I think we need to be realistic going into the coming weeks about our position in the table and a potential result at St. James Park tomorrow.”
Q2 – Who are the strengths and weaknesses in your current side? Any ‘ones to watch’ (for good or for bad) that us NUFC fans wouldn’t know about from watching you on Match of the Day?
“We have one of the best forwards in the league in Arnautovic.
“Felipe Anderson is a top signing for us, and while he’s shown some inconsistency, he will be a top player once he fully adjusts himself to the Premier League.
“I also think that Fabianski in goal has saved more than his fair share of shots for us this year, helping us gain points where we sometimes didn’t deserve too.
“Our CB’s of Diop and Balbuena are really coming together and I think our lack of strength and consistency in the midfield is more of a reflection on our goals conceded than our CB’s.
“Our youngsters Diangana, Rice and Diop have been great for us this season. Antonio hasn’t been up to scratch since his amazing season with us back in the Boleyn and he isn’t loved as much by us West Ham fans at the moment.”
“Another weakness outside of the lack of depth and consistency in the midfield, as a lot of West Ham fans will state is at LB due to the inconsistency of both Masuaku and Cresswell. I think this will be a crucial matchup tomorrow and it could affect the outcome of the game for both teams.”
Q3 – Which players do you see as the strengths AND weaknesses in this Newcastle’s side? Anyone you’re wary of and anyone you don’t rate?
“I’ve seen some great things from Federico Fernandez of late, with you defending brilliantly in the last few games.
“Rondon is a great threat up front but with our defence, he may find it hard when challenging in the air against Diop and Balbuena.
“Ki has been a great little maestro for you so could be a danger to our team.”
“I could see Yedlin causing us some issues due to our inconsistency at LB and wingers who have still have mental lapses tracking back in defence. Here’s to hoping Anderson keeps him occupied so he won’t be able to get down the field too often.
“While you have some excellent defenders but I believe it to be a tall task for them as a whole to handle Arnautovic – and especially Andy Carroll should he come on.
“Just as with us, I believe another weakness of Newcastle is at the LB position.”
Q4 – What sort of game do you think it’ll be and how do you see it panning out? Score prediction?
“I expect the game to be very tight the whole way through and am sure it will be a physical match.
“Even though you’re on a 4 game unbeaten streak and West Ham have only won 1 away game this season, the key deciders for me are a combination of a 6 factors:
- 1. Who controls the midfield?
- 2. Can Newcastle or West Ham exploit the right side of the field and cause problems for the left back?
- 3. Who makes the most of their opportunities in front of goal?
- 4. Do the Newcastle defenders have enough to stop Arnautovic?
- 5.Can Yedlin and the Newcastle midfield stop Felipe Anderson and keep him off the ball?
“While this game has the potential to go either way I think that West Ham will come in and get the win.
“Predicted Result: 2-1 West Ham”
Q5 – I see Mark Arnautovic was initially a doubt for this one but is now expected to play. There’s little doubt that he’s one of if not your most talented player and a real match winner, but I’ve heard he’s not been looking anywhere near fit enough of late. He’s someone I’m wary of based on his ability, but is he actually in any state to play?
“Marko Arnautovic is just as you’ve stated – a match winner.
“He has had a nagging issue throughout the season but has been deemed fit. Pellegrini has already stated he is fit and will be in the squad tomorrow in the press conference this week.
“I would be very wary of him because I feel that he is one of the best forwards in the Premier League when he is 100% – and he seems ready to go tomorrow, and while he might not be at 100%, he is always a threat for any opponent.
“However, as I’ve stated in a previous answer, he needs some support up front so we can rest him should the need arise.”
Q6 – If you could sign one player from this NUFC side, who would you like to see Pellegrini go for?
“I think Schar has been a great talent for you recently and Ki has played very well in the games I’ve watched recently too.
“Both would probably fit in our system fairly well.”
Q7 – Finally, if you had our two squads to choose from and were asked to pick the best possible side, what would you starting 11 be? (BE HONEST!)
(4-4-2) – Fabianski – Zabaleta, Schar, Diop, Cresswell – Ritchie, Ki, Rice, Anderson – Arnautovic, Rondon.
I found his five-part assessment of the factors that will decide the match very interesting, and thought I’d answer them myself..
- 1. “Who controls the midfield?” Us. He said it’s their weak area – & Diame and Ki have won every midfield battle in the last 3.
- 2. “Can Newcastle or West Ham exploit the right side of the field and cause problems for the left back?” I think we both will
- 3. “Who makes the most of their opportunities in front of goal?” If Anderson/Arnie are on their game then they could – but our defence is better than West Ham’s and it’ll all depend on who’s allowed to CREATE the most chances.
- 4. Do the Newcastle defenders have enough to stop Arnautovic? Yes – especially if he’s isolated and/or not fully fit.
- 5.Can Yedlin and the NUFC midfield stop Felipe Anderson and keep him off the ball? Depends which DeAndre Yedlin turns up.
A big thanks to the Hammers fans for taking some time to chat to us this week!
Next up will be the thoughts of a Wolves fan ahead of our ‘Super Sunday’ clash with them a week tomorrow.