Thursday, January 18, 2018

Prediction: West Ham vs Newcastle

Verdict: West Ham to Win

Best Odds: 23/20

Bookmakers: William Hill

Saturday brings with it a clash between two sides whose form is trending in very different directions. The Hammers have been reinvigorated by the arrival of new manager David Moyes, who has finally got them scoring goals and keeping clean sheets. The Magpies meanwhile are in limbo until the ownership saga ends, and their on-pitch performances seem to be suffering as a result. Both sides will obviously want a win here, but Newcastle can haul themselves out of the relegation zone with a positive result.

West Ham

The Hammers had a truly awful start to this season, winning just two of the 11 games they played before David Moyes was drafted in, and losing six times. Having spent a fair amount of money in the summer, this was an unexpected turn of events, and players like Marko Arnautovic simply weren’t performing to the best of their ability. In truth Moyes’ arrival did little to turn the London club’s form around, and it took over a month for the former Manchester United manager to get his first win. The three points came against reigning Premier League champions Chelsea however, and since then the Irons have looked like a decent team.

The 1-0 win over the Blues was followed by a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Arsenal, and then a 0-3 away dismantling of Stoke. The three consecutive clean sheets will perhaps be the biggest positive for Moyes as before the Chelsea game West Ham had leaked a colossal 32 goals. Unsurprisingly their upturn in form has coincided with some good performances from Arnautovic, who has bagged two goals in the last three league games. The Hammers are now back to playing the sort of football that everyone knows they are capable of, and their hot streak should continue this weekend against a struggling Newcastle team.

Team News

The Hammers will be without Manuel Lanzini for the second game in a row as the Argentine international serves his ban. Cheikhou Kouyate and Sam Byram meanwhile will face late fitness tests.

Jose Fonte remains out with a knee injury.

Newcastle

The problems around Newcastle are as much focused off the pitch as they are on it. Owner Mike Ashley has been trying to sell the club for years, but now that finally seems to be happening and everything is in a weird state of limbo until it is sorted out. The ownership change complicates the January transfer market for manager Rafa Benitez, mainly as he won’t know how much, if any, he is able to spend. Unfortunately it looks as if he needs a few players to bolster the squad, especially as he prepares for what looks increasingly likely to be a difficult relegation battle.

The Magpies main struggle has been scoring goals, which has greatly limited their ability to grind out draws and narrow wins. 10 of their 18 games have either ended in a draw or a defeat by a single goal, so a striker will likely be Benitez’s top priority in January. With just 16 goals scored all season, Newcastle are the sixth lowest scoring team in the league, and it is little surprise that they have dropped down into the relegation zone. Until they address their issues in front of goal, wins will be difficult to come by, and they look likely to drop points again when they take on the Hammers.

Team News

Jonjo Shelvey is still suspended after picking up a red card against Everton. Aside from this the Magpies face no injury problems and will have a fully fit squad for this clash.

Key Factors to Consider

  • West Ham are unbeaten in their last three Premier League games.
  • The Hammers have scored four times and kept three clean sheets across their last three league games.
  • Newcastle are without a win in their last nine league games.
  • The Magpies have scored just 16 times in 18 top-flight games this season.
  • West Ham haven’t lost two home games in one season against newly promoted sides since 2006/7, and they registered a defeat to Brighton earlier in this campaign.

Conclusion

West Ham’s recent form has been nothing short of remarkable, considering how bad they were at the start of the season, and they will head into this game with a huge amount of confidence after their 0-3 away win over Stoke. With the Magpies struggling in front of goal, and their defence starting to crumble, a Hammers win looks like the most likely outcome of this encounter.

Verdict: West Ham to Win

Best Odds: 23/20

Bookmakers: William Hill

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Steeden


Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.

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