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

It’s not often we’ve said it this season, but this Newcastle United team really have been a joy to watch of late.

We saw commitment to the cause, team spirit and some outstanding defensive work against the likes of Man City, Spurs and Wolves, but the arrival of Almiron has also given us both balance and flare – meaning we now look a competent side all over the pitch.

Back to back wins over Huddersfield and Burnley has given us some much needed breathing space and a 6 point lead over the bottom three (7 points if you factor in Cardiff’s goal difference), but the work can’t stop there – with this being Rafa Benitez’s big message since our win on Tuesday night.

Another top 10 finish is being talked about – and it isn’t out of the question given our form and the fact we’d be just two points off the likes of West Ham and Everton with a win here – however the main focus must be survival.

As we’ve seen, it just takes us to be 10 or 20% below our best and we’ll be beaten, so complacency can not creep n – no matter how safe we may feel in 13th on this form.

Predicted XI

Rafa surprised a few by bringing Manquillo into the side in midweek and resting Yedlin, but I expect the American to come back in for this one – especially when we’ll need every ounce of his pace when up against their £35m man Felipe Anderson.

Elsewhere, you’d normally expect Rafa to rotate given this will be our third game in a week, however it feels like we’re playing too well to even consider making any changes right now – unless certain players are clearly fatigued that is.

The likes of Dummett, Ki, Fernandez, Diame, Atsu and Kenedy will all be pushing for game time, but until Benitez is given a reason to drop one of the 11 below, I can’t see them starting any time soon! A nice problem to have for Rafa.

Preferred NUFC XI – (3-4–2-1) – Dubravka– Schar, Lascelles, Lejeune – Yedlin, Longstaff, Hayden, Ritchie – Perez, Almiron – Rondon.

The Opposition

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

Felipe Anderson – The Brazilian arrived for huge money over the summer and he’s delivered. He’s quick, but he doesn’t rely on his pace, with his intelligence on and off the ball, his wicked right peg and his impressive footwork meaning Yedlin could have his hands full for this one. He’ll certainly need to be better than he was in our last away outing at Wolves if he plans to keep him quiet.

Marko Arnautovic – A maverick and a player who can look frustrated and uninterested one day, but electric, all energy and devastating on another. Let’s hope we see the latter for this one – otherwise Lascelles, Lejeune and Schar will have a real task on their hands!

Declan Rice – The young midfielder has been outstanding recently and it’s being reported that this game could be his ‘audition’ for an England call up. He’ll be up against fellow Three Lions hopeful Sean Longstaff in the middle of the park, so this is a battle to keep a close eye on.

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

Team news

Jonjo Shelvey will miss out once again, but only because he is due to play with the U-23’s against Fulham on Friday night to build up his match fitness. Clark and Elliot are the only other players ruled out through injury.

For West Ham, Mark Arnautovic could return from illness, Manuel Lanzini could make his first league start of the season, Javier Hernandez and Mark Noble look set to be recalled and Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku are both fit after missing out recently.


Win and we’ll see no reason why we can’t have a late surge towards the top 10, but lose and it’ll be a reminder that we’re far from safe just yet – especially if results don’t go our way elsewhere.

I see no reason why we couldn’t come away with 3 points on current form and fancy Almiron to give Zabaleta a tough time IF the ageing Argentine starts, however I’m fearful that Felipe Anderson will tear Yedlin apart at the other end.

I don’t see us getting beat, but West Ham will give our back 5 much more problems than Huddersfield and Burnley have done, so I see this one being a score draw.

Prediction: West Ham 1-1 Newcastle.

Howay the lads!

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & 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.

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

  1. Ryder, Olly and Merse have all gone 1-1 and it looks like a 1-1. So it will probably be 3-3.

    I am hoping we can carry on this good form and get a win so 2-1 to NUFC.


  2. Good to see Shelvey playing in the U23s to get his fitness up. I think he could do OK in the current system as he was asked to sit back out of necessity at the start of the season when we had few options up front. He is better playing further up the field but the more goals and assists his midfield competition get the more under the spotlight Jonjo’s failures in these areas become. It depends on Rafa wanting to rotate and Longstaff is still a young lad and there is a tendency for form to be up and down as other teams see more of him. It is Ki, Longstaff and Shevley for one spot now with the recoveries from injury, and to state the obvious that is a good problem to have.


  3. Depends on which wham team turns up,imo Anderson will try and out shine our new little gem need to try and tie him up


  4. ERIC Daft storey going round Mayweather looking to buy the toon,heard owt,think that’s just what it is a storey


  5. Icedog:
    Depends on which wham team turns up,imo Anderson will try and out shine our new little gem need to try and tie him up

    Ice this first did the rounds back in the spring of 2018 . non story sadly mate.
    Could you imagine the negotiations man lol, He’d probs knock out jabba if he played hardball.


  6. ARRGH Try again

    ERIC Daft storey going round Mayweather looking to buy the toon,heard owt,think that’s just what it is a storey

    Ice this first did the rounds back in the spring of 2018 . non story sadly mate.
    Could you imagine the negotiations man lol, He’d probs knock out jabba if he played hardball.


  7. Caulkin talks to Hayden

    Hayden wanted to leave Newcastle last summer and again in January
    Hayden wanted to leave Newcastle last summer and again in January
    The Times, March 1 2019, 12:00pm
    His first answer lasts almost 13 minutes, a jumbled torrent of words that reflect just how much Isaac Hayden needs to talk, to explain. The question was not exactly Jeremy Paxman, not quite David Frost or Jonathan Dimbleby, but the gentlest of dollies about whether the Newcastle United midfield player is enjoying his football. Enjoyment, it turns out, is not a straightforward concept. In Hayden’s existence, nothing is.

    Hayden is playing for “a huge club with fantastic fans,” but satisfaction is tempered. This is “not a place you’d willingly give up,” he says, but it is what he tried to do, pushing to leave Newcastle last summer and again in January, driven to sacrifice something for his family, which is not the way football usually works. And yet his story at St James’ Park is not done. The curtain has risen on a second act.

    Hayden, 23, has a one-year old daughter who has changed his outlook on life
    Hayden, 23, has a one-year old daughter who has changed his outlook on life
    There he was on Tuesday, excelling in a 2-0 victory over Burnley, saluting the crowd afterwards, one of the last to step from the field. And here he is now, picking through his dilemma. If 2018 was the most traumatic year of his life and career, then 2019 has begun very differently, with ten consecutive league appearances for Rafa Benítez’s team. When you think about it — and Hayden does, often — it is all pretty strange.

    Hayden arrived on Tyneside in the summer of 2016, when Newcastle were preparing for the Sky Bet Championship. An Essex boy, he joined from Arsenal on a five-year contract. “I was single and I had a ‘world is my oyster’ mentality,” he says. He found a city which craved connection. “People want you to relate to their club, to understand it, maybe to fall in love with it,” he says. “I’ve done those things.”

    Hayden is still only 23, but there are others to love now; Lauren, his fiancé, and Adriana, their one-year-old daughter. Fatherhood has “massively” changed the way he looks at things. “As a player, you do what’s best for the team, but I’m a human being, too, and sometimes you have to do what’s best for your individual circumstances,” he says. “I don’t want to be the kind of person who hides away from saying that, who isn’t honest.”

    Truth pours from him. At Newcastle’s training ground, Hayden is described as a nice lad, smart and quiet, but having tried to protect his family, he now wants supporters to understand. To do that takes detail. “My daughter’s birth and everything leading up to it was very traumatic; not many people know what it was really like,” he says. “My fiancé was very, very ill for the whole term of her pregnancy, the whole 9 months.

    “She was bed-ridden, couldn’t do anything. She was being sick 20-30 times a day. She had hyperemesis gravidarum, the condition that Kate Middleton had. She was going into hospital to be put on drips. She was in Newcastle at that point, but her family is based in the south west, mine’s in Essex and she really had no support. I remember we played Stoke [City] at home and I was at hospital with her at 5am and then played after three hours sleep. It was carnage.

    “When Adriana was born in December 2017, she was six weeks premature and then she was in neonatal care. She had ongoing problems with her breathing and temperature control. She was in the Portland Hospital in London. While all that was happening, trying to play football was difficult. She’s doing okay now, but there’re still a lot of things, little checks and stuff, and we like to use the same hospital for her specific needs.

    Hayden excelled in thre 2-0 victory over Burnley on Tuesday nightHayden excelled in thre 2-0 victory over Burnley on Tuesday night
    “They come and see me quite regularly, but I want to be in a place for my daughter to settle down and have a happy home environment and not be moving around too much. Lauren has done an awful lot for me and given up a lot to have a child, especially in the situation we did. Looking back, I don’t know how she did it. She deserves to be in a position where she’s happy, where’s she’s closer to her family and closer to the hospital.”

    Because of the skewed way we look at football, some might not accept this logic. Hayden can afford it; buy help, get a nanny. “We tried, but it’s not something we want to do,” he says. So suck it up; he can afford discomfort, too. “People will say, ‘you earn thousands of pounds a week, you’re an hour’s flight away from your child, what’s the problem’, but the whole point of being a dad is to be there,” he says.

    “When she’s older, I don’t want her to say ‘dad paid for everything, but I only saw him once every three weeks’. I want her to say ‘I did this with daddy, we went there together’. Money isn’t everything. It’s about the time you spend with children, the effort you put in. I want to know her. I don’t want to miss her walking for the first time, talking, all those things. I want to be a proper dad.”

    In July, Brighton & Hove Albion tried to sign him. It made sense. “It’s frustrating; when people saw Brighton were interested, they assumed I must want more money,” Hayden says. “No. I would have taken a pay cut. It was exactly the same in January. The manager knows that. Everyone at the club knows my situation, my character.”

    There was empathy from Benítez, from Lee Charnley, Newcastle’s managing director, but the club’s attempts to find a replacement fell through. Pre-season had been a write-off and then Hayden found himself stuck and out of the squad, “a double whammy,” as he puts it. When he was needed at Cardiff City in August, his head was scrambled. His appearance as a half-time substitute was calamitous.

    “It was a whirlwind,” he says. “I didn’t go on purposefully thinking about getting sent off, that wouldn’t cross my mind, but Josh Murphy was causing us problems, taking players on, skinning players and I thought ‘well, he needs to get whacked’. I couldn’t let him take the piss, but my challenge was too firm, the wrong type of tackle and I knew the red card was coming.

    “I sat in the dressing-room on my own. I knew what I’d done was wrong, that I was going to get stick. After coming out publicly saying I wanted a transfer to getting sent off, I was at the lowest of lows. It reflected where I was mentally. It just highlighted everything I was feeling, compounding the misery.

    “When I look back on it now, 2018 as a whole was just terrible. Professionally, I only started two games, I got the first red card of my career and personally, it was difficult as well. I made some mistakes. It was a very stressful period. I hope I’ve improved as a man and as a father since then.”

    Hayden, from Essex, came through the Arsenal academyHayden, from Essex, came through the Arsenal academy
    Lauren, 28, was there for him. “It was some year, but she’s been so supportive,” Hayden says. “She’s done so much for me, especially in terms of the mentality thing. When I was at my lowest she told me to keep my head screwed on, to keep working hard. She’s done more than anybody can ever know.”

    It has given him perspective. “I wouldn’t say my life has been on hold because you can always find little solutions to improve things, but limbo is the word,” Hayden says. “You don’t know whether you’re coming or going. You’re always in that strange place. I don’t blame the club. They had to do what’s best for them and I completely respect that. You have to respect the fans most of all. When you’re contracted to do a job, you fulfil your duties.”

    In the meantime, Hayden has found prominence again. Injuries and international call-ups cleared space in Newcastle’s midfield and he has filled it, less newsworthy, perhaps, than Sean Longstaff beside him, but just as impressive and, in a way, more startling. “The manager said to me, ‘you’re good enough to play here, there’s no pecking order, you have a clean slate’,” Hayden says. “He’s been really good with me.”

    Hayden has been good in return. He is solid, professional, aware of his surroundings. “It’s not like I’ve downed tools,” he says. “I would never do that. I get where people are coming from. They’re Newcastle through and through and if a player comes out and says ‘I want to leave’ for whatever reason, they’re always going to have that angst. But it’s never been the case that I don’t like the club, the city or the fans. I do. It’s nothing to do with that.

    “This is a huge club. It’s also a frustrating club, because it’s got the infrastructure to be in the Champions League, 52,000 fans at every home game, all the away ends packed out wherever we go, it’s a one-club city. It’s got all the makings to be enormous but for whatever reasons it’s not reaching its potential. It’s not the kind of club you’d want to leave.”

    The irony of that is not lost on Hayden, a sportsman living a privileged life but still just a person, with the same concerns that each of us have about family and love and guilt and responsibility. A man being pulled in different directions. “You have all these questions in your head,” he says, “but until the summer, that’s it. It’s head down, full focus, doing everything I can to help Newcastle. And I know I can do more. It’s not finished.”

    In spite of it all, here Hayden is, reborn and reenergised when he least expected it. Here he is, thriving in the Premier League, soaking up applause. “Here I am,” he repeats. “Yeah, exactly.” A smile flickers on his lips. And after all those words, after all that explanation and to return to where we started, is he enjoying his football? Can he? Hayden reconsiders and, this time, his answer is brief. “Yeah,” he says. “I am.


  8. Kimtoon: seems Hayden had a difficult time with medical issues which you suspected. It seems that he is past most of them now although if they want another kid it would probably happen again. His girlfriend moved to Newcastle so they did try to settle in the Toon but events took over and I can understand her moving back to be with family. He also admits his head was elsewhere but now he is a bit better.

    It seems a lot like the David Silva situation but he had more time to put down roots in Manchester.

    With the medical issues having mainly past he can concentrate 100% on the games if he is selected and I think we would all wish him luck if he can find a club in the summer.

    I am still not sure how it would work logistically if they have a home in South Wales. I just looked it up on Google maps and Brighton to Cardiff for example is 191 miles. Says the journey is 3 hours and 20 minutes. And that would be each way which would not be doable on a training day for him, at least. I understand the lads predicament but I don’t see that as a complete solution unless the whole extended family moved.


  9. The ideal solution would probably be Cardiff but they most likely will be relegated. If he was willing to drop down to the Championship they could probably afford him with this years PL money and then the parachute payments.

    They would automatically be favourites for promotion because of all that cash and a decent squad to build on.

    Although Hayden has done well in the last few games he hasn’t proved anything yet. He didn’t tear it up at NUFC even in The Championship. But he was younger then so we should give him a chance and see what he does in the next 10 games (if selected) as Diame is getting on. Who knows, if he is in the team he may even have a change of heart because his domestic situation is also better. You never know.

    I have a feeling that Hayden was one of the players that Rafa wanted to upgrade anyway so I doubt his place in the side would be assured.


  10. Chronic had a story today featuring a company called Oddsmonkey. They had checked and the average number of points needed to stay up was 36. They acted like this was a revelation when it is quite well known and anybody paying attention knows that this magic 40 points is a myth. They also said NUFC were now 500 to 1 to go down. That seemed very high, and it is a Chronicle story after all, so I checked. We are actually about 40 to 1 which is still very high odds. Barring a complete meltdown we are safe and Rafa has even mentioned 38 points.


  11. The journos were deliberately confusing an England U21 call-up for Longstaff with the full squad. They knew Aidy Boothryd was there so they knew what was going on. Rafa didn’t correct them 🙂 Actually, a couple of good performances in the U21s for Sean or Declan Rice could fast track them.

    These are the central midfielders taken to the WC:

    Eric Dier
    Jordan Henderson
    Fabian Delph

    Standby: Lallana, Jake Livermore

    This must be England’s weakest position by far.


  12. Not that farfetched is it when none of the midfielders considered for Russia are even in their teams! Henderson is Captain of Liverpool but seems to be chosen as an afterthought and they tried to replace him anyway with Keita or Fabinho. And he fell out with Klopp.


  13. Just checked The Guardian preview and they quote the odds as:

    Home: Evens
    Away: 3 to 1
    Draw 5 to 2

    That seems a bit generous to West Ham.


  14. kimtoon:
    ARRGH Try again

    Ice this first did the rounds back in the spring of 2018 . non story sadly mate.
    Could you imagine the negotiations man lol, He’d probs knock out jabba if he played hardball.

    as i said its just a storey


  15. is there really going to be an Oasis versus Blur (tedious and utterly meaningless today)?

    Longstaff versus Rice

    It is obvious Longstaff is better 🙂


  16. Eric, as i understand it, his child is still attending appointments at a London hospital quite regularly .
    I can imagine that he could possibly want a club in or near London ( he was all set for Brighton in jan ) But we failed to secure a replacement . He would relocate family there and easy enough to get back to south wales from there.
    I know there are excellent medical facilities in the NE, but it’s not that simple.
    From a purely personal point of view i can totally understand where he’s coming from. Our Lew has been under the same teams at local hospitals for all his 28 years, they know him and me really well now and the thought of a new city and hospital team is not nice. It’s also the reason getting a bungalow is taking so long, they are rarer than hens teeth in BS3 area and i want to stay in the gp catchment zone so i don’t have to change his GP.

    Good luck to Hayden anyway, he is putting family first and i don’t blame him .


  17. I am getting a bit sick of people writing off Shelvey (Eds and The Chronic comments among other places). When he was fit in our 1st dozen games he was on a hiding to nothing as he was sat 30 yards out and asked to relieve all the pressure but with nobody upfield to pass to.

    He is better played further forward in my opinion and needs runners or people in space. Pirlo or Hoddle weren’t exactly quick (I know, I know…).

    Some NUFC fans eh!!!!! From calling for him to go to the World Cup to calling him useless when he was in a team with no strikers and then got injured.


  18. It really is the Oasis/Blur syndrome and is so simple minded. You can’t like Longstaff AND Shelvey???? Rafa actually MIGHT be phasing Shelvey out, I don’t know but he also might use him in rotation when fully fit and the lad helped us gain promotion and to stay up.


  19. I know I have used Oasis/Blur twice but it just perfectly sums up how some people cannot hold 2 thoughts in their mind at the same time or cannot praise someone without trashing someone else.


  20. I think Rafa can have the Spurs job if he wants it. Look at the Managers before Poch:

    Tim Sherwood
    Andre Villas Boas
    Harry Redknapp
    Juande Ramos
    Martin Jol

    They have a really good squad but will not have much money. And are desperate for a trophy. Remember Rafa took on the Chelsea job as a stop-gap and won them the Europa League.


  21. Really hoping for a third win on the trot this evening… will be a tough ask but let’s see.


  22. There is such a thing as scoring too early though 😉 and we did come back from being a goal down to City.


  23. kimtoon:
    Ice, how’s pup doing, has he relocated back to uk yet ?

    1st April mate just bought a house in Scotland on Thur came over for two days to sort it,its in a lovely small village outside Perth only a dozen houses there,got kids booked into school already


  24. icedog: 1st April mate just bought a house in Scotland on Thur came over for two days to sort it,its in a lovely small village outside Perthonly a dozen houses there,got kids booked into school already

    Sounds lush Ice . You not been on much so thought maybe he was back already and you was busy .


  25. Well that was a s.hit first half… we are being totally outplayed at the moment. Need to really step up in the second half. ☹️☹️☹️


  26. Very poor scrappy first half. Our passing has been off and WHU have played with more intensity imo.

    However another big difference – Hernandez, Lanzini, Anderson up front with Arnautovic, Nasri and Antonio on the bench … bit of a difference when your owners invest innit.


  27. I don’t think Longstaff is injured – at least I hope not.

    Think it’s more the game time has caught up with him. He didn’t look himself in the 1st half – or as slick and comfortable as he has at least.


  28. Rafa making the point – how was that a foul on the keeper when Bolys wasn’t a few weeks ago


  29. How ****e is Muto if Atsu is getting on ahead of him????.

    Again though – they take Hernandez off and bring Arnautovic on – we bring on Atsu 🤷🏼‍♂️


  30. We were back to being awful again. No pressing forward, sideways and backwards passing,no running. Even in the last ten minutes our build up was so pedestrian. Ref must have been given a box of yellow cards for Xmas. We looked tired from the off.


  31. kimtoon: Sounds lush Ice . You not been on much so thought maybe he was back already and you was busy .

    Been suffering with my vertigo mate,fed up with it


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