West Ham (H) Pre-match thoughts, team news, possible line-ups & score prediction

After several months away, never-ending takeover talk and a painful wait for summer signings, Premier League football is finally back at St James’ Park this weekend!

Although any arbitration hearing has been delayed until ‘early 2022’, one of our wishes has come true this week, with Joe Willock completing a permanent move to Newcastle United.

He’s not been registered in time to play this Sunday, but his return does give the players, the club and the entire city a much needed boost ahead of our meeting with West Ham.

We beat The Hammers 3-2 in a five-goal thriller back in April and did a job on them at the London Stadium on the first day of the 2020/21 season, so we’ll have to hope that trend continues here!

Callum Wilson loves to score against the visitors – he’s scored eight times in 10 appearances against West Ham. We’ll also have to hope Allan Saint-Maximin is boosted by the return of fans and able to start after a period of illness over pre-season, with the Frenchman our game-changer who could tear The Irons to shreds if he’s ‘at it.’

David Moyes’ danger man could be the in-form Said Benrahma – the former Brentford star fresh from an outstanding pre-season – while Michail Antonio, ex-Toon target Jarrod Bowen, marauding right-back Vladimir Coufal and Czech giant Tomas Soucek are others ones to watch.

They finished 6th last time out and were in the Champions League picture at one point, however they haven’t added any outfield signings so far this summer ahead of a season competing in the Europa League.

A tough opening test, yet a game we could easily win if we arrive with the right attitude, get at them as we did in April and whip up a positive atmosphere inside St James’ Park!

Team news

  • Paul Dummett – Picked up a calf injury at the end of July and is the only outfield player set to miss out.
  • Martin Dubravka – Still recovering from an operation on his foot following Euro 2020.
  • Karl Darlow – Not ready to return after being hit badly by Covid last month, meaning Woodman will start.
  • Elliot Anderson – Unavailable after failing to overcome a niggling hip injury all summer.

For the visitors, first choice centre-back Angelo Ogbonna looks set to miss out after picking up an injury in a recent pre-season friendly at Celtic.

Predicted lineup

(5-3-2): Woodman – Murphy, Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie – Shelvey (c), Hayden, Almiron – Saint-Maximin, Wilson.

Joe Willock is ineligible after being registered after Friday’s 12pm deadline, but we will see a Premier League debut for Freddie Woodman, who’s set for his big opportunity while Dubravka and Darlow remain out.

With Dummett not fit, Clark seems nailed on at the left-side of our three-man defence, with Fernandez and Lascelles also nailed on after Schar returned late following his appearance at Euro 2020 with Switzerland.

Hendrick and Sean Longstaff have got plenty of minutes over pre-season, but with Hayden fit again and our only real tackler, Shelvey starring in our 3-0 win over Norwich last weekend and Almiron being fit as a fiddle – despite only playing in one of our summer friendlies – I can see those three making up our midfield trio. It would be harsh on Ryan Fraser, but he’s still learning that ‘no.8’ role the Paraguayan took up towards the back end of last season.

Up top, it’s hard to see past ASM and Wilson. Gayle bagged two at SJP last weekend and Joelinton played well against The Hammers in our 3-2 win back in April, however Bruce seems likely to go with our two main men if both are fit enough to start.

Match prediction

I can see this one having a few goals in it.

Wilson and Saint-Maximin could cause any defence problems on their day, we will be backed by a home crowd excited to be back and attacking a Hammers defence without their best-centre-back.

At the other end, however, we could struggle to handle Antonio, Benrahma and Bowen, with the three possessing a real blend of power, flair and clever movement. They also have one of the best midfield duos outside the ‘big six’ in Rice and Soucek, meaning the likes of Isaac Hayden will need to be on his game at the heart of our engine room.

I’m going for high-scoring draw!

Prediction: Newcastle 2-2 West Ham

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.

61 thoughts on “West Ham (H) Pre-match thoughts, team news, possible line-ups & score prediction

  1. WHU have some good players despite Lingard not being there now. Benrama & Bowen are 2 very good players – Antonio is a threat & their midfield of Rice & Soucek can control games.

    They’ve had a good pre season, but I think our 11 above are strong enough to win the game though & I think the arrival of Willock should lift the team.

    2-1 Newcastle for me

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  2. I watched Brentford last night & without getting a chance to score Toney was brilliant overall. His workrate & physicality was outstanding. All the hype about Ben White – the £50m England CB was like a little boy lost against him – and Arteta really didn’t help them out leaving them as 2 CBs.

    Toney has been coached in the U21s at NUFC, Peterborough & Brentford & playing as well as he is – imagine if a World Class coach who was building a project at a PL club had shown some faith in him??. Imagine the asset he might be for that club right now??.

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  3. Sharpy I suppose football is littered with young footballers being sold by a PL club when young and going on to become very good players. An awful lot is about timing. Most PL managers don’t have time to develop young players unless they’re already outstanding at a young age. Lukaku, De Bruyne and Salah are good cases released by one of the greatest managers of our times…

    As for the match I think it will be tight and only 1 goal either way.

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  4. Stuart79:
    Sharpy I suppose football is littered with young footballers being sold by a PL club when young and going on to become very good players. An awful lot is about timing. Most PL managers don’t have time to develop young players unless they’re already outstanding at a young age. Lukaku, De Bruyne and Salah are good cases released by one of the greatest managers of our times…

    As for the match I think it will be tight and only 1 goal either way.

    Stu – fair point mate, but I think the players you reference their all came with a reputation of having that potential – similar to Mitro when we signed him.
    Those 3 players you mentioned all were sold on to relatively big clubs – Toney was sold to Peterborough.

    I don’t think Rafa paid a blind bit of notice to the younger players & focused solely on the first team – and I understand that’s because football is about immediate success – BUT, I don’t think that was the case for Rafa. His expectation from Ashley was survival. There was no risk of being sacked if he hadn’t achieved top 10 or a cup run or whatever.
    Rafa himself kept banging on about a project – building and developing the club.

    He sold Toney to Peterborough & spent £1m on Toure as his replacement – a player who has just been released by the club.

    Toney back then would not have been the Toney that played last night – but a world class manager who was paying attention to his young players should have spotted the potential & been able to develop it as part of his project & there are a good 2 or 3 others the same could be said about.

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  5. People will say – what about Longstaff? when I say he didn’t pay a blind bit of notice.

    He had Longstaff & Hayden rotting in the reserves & only turned to them when if think Shelvey picked up a red card, Diame was injured (or visa versa) and Ki went off to the Asia cup.
    Longstaff had a loan move lined up which had to be called off & Hayden was desperately pushing for a move, with a move to Reading I think it was in the pipeline.

    Both played the next game, and from that point on Rafas senior players struggled to shift them.

    If Rafa had an oversight of the full playing staff, both those players should have been part of the set up long before it was forced upon him.

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  6. I think Olly has the team correct. Hard to predict sometimes. I reckon Miggy has to score to keep his place.

    Must have been tough for Willock to leave Arsenal after being there since he was 4 and a half. However, watching their sh!tshow against Brentford might have eased the pain 🙂

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  7. Leeds have made Bielsa his own personalised bucket with a Leeds crest and padded seat!

    Pogba needs shot for missing that chance and that haircut.

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  8. Sharpy17: Stu – fair point mate, but I think the players you reference their all came with a reputation of having that potential – similar to Mitro when we signed him.
    Those 3 players you mentioned all were sold on to relatively big clubs – Toney was sold to Peterborough.

    I don’t think Rafa paid a blind bit of notice to the younger players & focused solely on the first team – and I understand that’s because football is about immediate success – BUT, I don’t think that was the case for Rafa.His expectation from Ashley was survival.There was no risk of being sacked if he hadn’t achieved top 10 or a cup run or whatever.
    Rafa himself kept banging on about a project – building and developing the club.

    He sold Toney to Peterborough & spent £1m on Toure as his replacement – a player who has just been released by the club.

    Toney back then would not have been the Toney that played last night – but a world class manager who was paying attention to his young players should have spotted the potential & been able to develop it as part of his project & there are a good 2 or 3 others the same could be said about.

    To be fair I don’t think any of our managers paid Toney any attention. Maybe he wasn’t good enough or didn’t show much potential? Bit like Armstrong. Remember the lad Campbell who Pardew said had a great future?

    I don’t really blame Rafa or any of our previous managers not giving the likes of a Toney a chance. We were fighting against relegation and throwing in young unproven players was never really a possibility.

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  9. Eric:
    I think Olly has the team correct. Hard to predict sometimes. I reckon Miggy has to score to keep his place.

    Must have been tough for Willock to leave Arsenal after being there since he was 4 and a half. However, watching their sh!tshow against Brentford might have eased the pain 🙂

    Eric – I made the point when there was doubt over him coming to Newcastle that he’s still a very young lad & his whole life is in London & Arsenal – it was never a cut n dry decision.
    So the fact that we have not only got him, but on a permanent deal and a 6 year contract says an awful lot imo.
    He showed his ability last season – and I think we have to be fair to the lad – I think that was probably peak performance levels. If he replicates those stats over the course of a full season (rather than the half) I still think he will have made a big contribution – anything extra will be brilliant.

    If he gets his head down & focuses on his football, I honestly think he gets into the England squad.

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  10. Stuart79: To be fair I don’t think any of our managers paid Toney any attention. Maybe he wasn’t good enough or didn’t show much potential? Bit like Armstrong. Remember the lad Campbell who Pardew said had a great future?

    I don’t really blame Rafa or any of our previous managers not giving the likes of a Toney a chance. We were fighting against relegation and throwing in young unproven players was never really a possibility.

    Stu – I’m not talking about them being anywhere near the first team mate. I’m talking about keeping them on the books & developing them rather than letting them go.
    Coach these players in the reserves, or structure their loan moves – they could have loaned him to Peterborough rather than selling him – but like I say, they sold him & spend £1m on Toure who also wasn’t loaned out or developed. He had Sorensen who was smashing goals in in the reserves, then sent him out an a disastrous loan spell.

    I’m not suggestion Toney the finished article in our reserve set up & should have been first team or even on the bench.

    But he’s been developed by Peterborough & Brentford – did they see what Rafa didn’t?. I’m not suggesting that Rafa missed it coz he didn’t know what he was doing – I think he missed it coz he wasn’t looking & should have been.

    You mentioned Armstrong & we put a 40% sell on there – so I think we did see his potential & he’ll get chance to show his ability with Saints now – but we should have been doing better with players like Toney, Armstrong, Mbabu & Mbemba imo.

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  11. Just looking at the squad numbers for this season & im quite surprised to see Matty Longstaff wearing #4 (I know ever player will be this season 😂). But for a player who have had little first team football, that’s a senior squad number I think.
    Maybe they don’t mean as much now & im showing my age here 🤷🏼‍♂️

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  12. Man U 5 Leeds 1. You know I said man U would win the Leage this year. I am still about 50 – 50 depending on which Manchester gets Kane. Top 4 in order:

    Man U
    City
    Chelsea
    liverpool

    NUFC 12 or 13 again.

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  13. There’s a lot been said about Arteta & OGS and are they good enough for the massive clubs they are managing.

    I’m not going to put it all at their feet coz alot of it is recruitment and structure at the club respective clubs – but they are Worlds apart at the moment.

    Man Utd have a clear identity, way of playing & direction – everything Arsenal are lacking.

    2 other things off the back of that – Pogba has been outstanding today.

    2nd – there are a lot of Man Utd fans sporting the new Man Utd tops today – for a group that were so against the owners, 2 signs have certainly saw them buy back into their club 🙄.

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  14. Eric:
    Man U 5 Leeds 1. You know I said man U would win the Leage this year. I am still about 50 – 50 depending on which Manchester gets Kane. Top 4 in order:

    Man U
    City
    Chelsea
    liverpool

    NUFC 12 or 13 again.

    Eric – I’m going Chelsea mate.

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  15. So Willock is back with us, happy days, that puts us exactly where we were end of last season then.
    Oh and we’ve let quite a few go so we defo need more in.
    Here’s hoping .

    Good result for Brentford last night, that’ll give Steve a reason to justify that loss we had to them in the cup 🙄

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  16. Sharpy17: Stu – I’m not talking about them being anywhere near the first team mate.I’m talking about keeping them on the books & developing them rather than letting them go.
    Coach these players in the reserves, or structure their loan moves – they could have loaned him to Peterborough rather than selling him – but like I say, they sold him & spend £1m on Toure who also wasn’t loaned out or developed.He had Sorensen who was smashing goals in in the reserves, then sent him out an a disastrous loan spell.

    I’m not suggestion Toney the finished article in our reserve set up & should have been first team or even on the bench.

    But he’s been developed by Peterborough & Brentford – did they see what Rafa didn’t?.I’m not suggesting that Rafa missed it coz he didn’t know what he was doing – I think he missed it coz he wasn’t looking & should have been.

    You mentioned Armstrong & we put a 40% sell on there – so I think we did see his potential & he’ll get chance to show his ability with Saints now – but we should have been doing better with players like Toney, Armstrong, Mbabu & Mbemba imo.

    Could be right, Sharpy. But also the lad could have wanted to move. He might have thought he deserved a chance and the manager didn’t or couldn’t do it at that time. I personally think lost managers would like to keep every player but certain constraints like squad places, budgets and personalities play a big part. I don’t generally believe it’s as simple as – we should keep them just in case.

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  17. Monkey’s Heed is at the Everton match.

    Southampton are pretty shyte. I think they have a chance of going down. I said them or Burnley but either or both could survive because of their managers.

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  18. WTF. I thought Watford were going down and they are beating Villa (one man team) 3 nil. I had to pick a promoted team to get relegated and they seemed the most likely.

    Sticking with my picks of Burnley, S’ton, Watford whatever happens on the 1st day.

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  19. Eric:
    WTF. I thought Watford were going down and they are beating Villa (one man team) 3 nil. I had to pick a promoted team to get relegated and they seemed the most likely.

    Sticking with my picks of Burnley, S’ton, Watford whatever happens on the 1st day.

    Eric – not necessarily in order but my 3 to drop are Norwich, Palace and I can’t decide on the 3rd yet – but it’s not us 👍🏻

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  20. I dont know what Arsenal are doing giving us Willock. I watched him in his games for us and also on youtube and Olly’s clips. They can be deceptive sometimes (Albert Luque). I dont think so in this case. I think Willock is the real deal.

    He can run with the ball. He can tackle. He can shoot. He does those little Cyuyff turns as well. And he nutmegs people.

    The kid has it all. What are Aresenal thinking?!!

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  21. Stuart79: Could be right, Sharpy. But also the lad could have wanted to move. He might have thought he deserved a chance and the manager didn’t or couldn’t do it at that time. I personally think lost managers would like to keep every player but certain constraints like squad places, budgets and personalities play a big part. I don’t generally believe it’s as simple as – we should keep them just in case.

    Stu – certainly not with all players, but ones you look at and think have potential to make it – they should be kept & made to feel like they have a future with the club – even if that sees them going out on loan for a few seasons.
    That may still result in the player getting sold – like Abraham is at Chelsea now & Brewster did from Liverpool. But look at the fees they are bringing in having had a structure to their development & successful loan moves the clubs oversaw.
    We sold both Armstrong & Toney – did we even get £5m for both?.

    Saints just bought Armstrong for around £20m and I bet Toney would be valued above that.

    But – I’d rather see them in our squad instead of Gayle & Carroll even.

    I know people will say – hindsight is a wonderful thing & how was Rafa to know. But I think a coach of his quality and the staff he had round him SHOULD have been spotting that potential & nurturing it – particularly as his vision was building a project or whatever dream he was selling.

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  22. Eric – I remember a few years back sitting in a sports bar in Dominican Republic watching us v Arsenal & Willock was playing for them (I think we beat them 1-0 but a lot of Presidente beer was drunk 🥴 .

    Anyway, even then Willock was stand out & the gunner I was watching the game with was saying he was going to have a big future – I don’t remember him playing for them much after that to be honest, but I agree with you – the kid has got the lot.

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  23. Sharpy17:
    Eric – I remember a few years back sitting in a sports bar in Dominican Republic watching us v Arsenal & Willock was playing for them (I think we beat them 1-0 but a lot of Presidente beer was drunk 🥴 .

    Anyway, even then Willock was stand out & the gunner I was watching the game with was saying he was going to have a big future – I don’t remember him playing for them much after that to be honest, but I agree with you – the kid has got the lot.

    It was April 2018 and we beat them 2-1 😂. I knew we won coz the fella was ragging on and I was just taking the mick 🤪. Willock played well for them though.

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  24. Sharpy,mate. For once in my life I will give credit to Brucie without going into a Stevie Wonder song. I think it is Bruce that wants Willock and has persuaded the fat man that he will keep us in the PL.

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  25. Eric:
    Sharpy,mate. For once in my life I will give credit to Brucie without going into a Stevie Wonder song. I think it is Bruce that wants Willock and has persuaded the fat man that he will keep us in the PL.

    Eric – I don’t think Bruce had anything to do with Joelinton or ASM coming in. But the signings after that I think have been his – and other than Hendrick and Carroll I think we’ve recruited well.

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  26. RIP Gerd Muller. I lived in Munich for a while. A little bit after his time. Rummenigge was the star when I was there.

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  27. Great first half. More of this please. More total attempts on goal in first half than any other game this weekend. Great goal from Murphy.

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  28. So, normal service resumed. And nothing on the bench that can make any difference. Shi.te. 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬

    As for the penalty, Tom Daley could not have done better

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  29. Never a penalty in a million years. Woodman saved the penalty and our defenders were way too slow. Nothing on the bench to make any difference as the whole bench was sh.ite. We just collapsed in the second half.

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  30. Some of the worst defending I have ever seen in my life!!. Didn’t matter which flank they attacked from the had all the time & space in the world – good going forward the wing backs – but shambolic defending.

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  31. Good first half but defensive frailties were still to see. All the goals West Ham scored the three goals which were from open play all from the left. Murphy is no full back and Kraft is not even a footballer. Clark is past his best. Why did we let Lejeune go or Watts?

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  32. Same old crap, awful non existent Midfield and poor defensively.
    St Max should not be dropping so deep, Shelvey poor hiding defensively, Hayden not much better, Woodman needs confidence, he’ll not get that with that defense in front of him.
    Wilson and Murphy goals were lovely.
    Oh and it was NOT a pen, but it’s Atkinson so ….
    meh.

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  33. You know, when Antonio was running on goal for their 4th not one single player tracked him and he must of ran over 30 yards or so, that’s damning on it’s own.
    We were not that bad defensively when Bruce took over, christ knows how a former defender cannot coach a team to be defensively tight. We don’t even do the simple things right .

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  34. Groucho:
    Good first half but defensive frailties were still to see. All the goals West Ham scored the three goals which were from open play all from the left. Murphy is no full back and Kraft is not even a footballer. Clark is past his best. Why did we let Lejeune go or Watts?

    Groucho – agree mate. Murphy good going forward but WHU hit his side most attacks and were in. I’ve tried to offer Krafth more time as the RCB in that 3 but he was awful today – Fernandez has zero pace and no command of the defence & Clark wasn’t much better. Ritchie was slightly better than Murphy defensively but again, him going forward let Bowen in too often.

    Almiron to make way for Willock for me – he’s not physical enough for the PL and I forgot he was playing in the second half.

    We didn’t look too bad going forward & when we put the ball in early. But we will lose more games than we win with that defence.

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