Newcastle United host West Ham United on the final matchday with their Premier League future still on the balance. No one could have envisaged their season to pan out like this when they had beaten Chelsea back in December to climb up to 6th place. Carver’s side have now taken just one point from their last 10 games and they must win their last game of the season to ensure survival or else rely on Manchester United to hold 18th place Hull City to at least a draw.
With Sunderland securing their Premier League status after a 0-0 draw at the Emirates, it’s now down to Hull City and Newcastle United for the final relegation spot with QPR and Burnley already condemned to life in the Championship next season. Hull lie 2 points behind Newcastle, though they have a superior goal difference.
Having lost at Loftus Road despite taking the lead, Newcastle face “one of the biggest matches in the club’s history” according to Carver.
That match features another club whose form has nosedived since the turn of the year when they harboured Champions League ambitions, sitting in 4th place at Christmas. The future looked bright then for Sam Allardyce who will now most likely be removed from his post as the Hammers’ manager come Monday with Big Sam ready to leave upon the expiration of his contract at the end of the season.
Even though West Ham lost to Everton 2-1, they lead them in the fair play standings and there is a high probability that they can qualify for the Europa League next season.
England have been guaranteed a place in the Europa League through the fair play standings and Liverpool are slightly ahead of West Ham in that table, though the Reds are expected to qualify through their league position leaving one of West Ham or Everton to claim the spot through the fair play standings.
The league’s second longest serving manager behind Arsene Wenger would love to leave with a win over his old club where he spent a short tenure that could result in possible relegation.
Mike Williamson returns after a two-match ban, but it is unlikely that he will start after Carver blamed him for getting sent off on purpose.
Cheick Tiote, Massadio Haidara, Steven Taylor, Siem De Jong and Jak Alnwick are all sidelined through injury while Adam Armstrong is a doubt.
West Ham United
James Collins was taken off injured against Everton last time around and is a doubt for the final game of the season while the likes of Andy Carroll, James Tomkins, Diafra Sakho and Guy Demel continue to miss out through injury. Kevin Nolan is available once against after missing out last weekend due to personal reasons.
Last Five Meetings
29 Nov 2014 West Ham Utd. 1 – 0 Newcastle Utd. Premier League
18 Jan 2014 West Ham Utd. 1 – 3 Newcastle Utd. Premier League
24 Aug 2013 Newcastle Utd. 0 – 0 West Ham Utd. Premier League
04 May 2013 West Ham Utd. 0 – 0 Newcastle Utd. Premier League
11 Nov 2012 Newcastle Utd. 0 – 1 West Ham Utd. Premier League
- Newcastle have lost 9 of their last 10 matches in the Premier League.
- Newcastle have conceded at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 6 matches in the Premier League.
- Newcastle United have won just two matches since the turn of the year, their last win coming at the end of February when they defeated Aston Villa 1-0.
- Newcastle United have kept just 2 clean sheets in their last 27 matches.
- West Ham have won just three matches in 2015, losing eight and drawing five.
- West Ham have failed to score in 6 of their last 8 away matches in the Premier League.
- West Ham have failed to win their last 11 away matches in the Premier League.
Newcastle United: Ayoze Perez
In a season that promised so much and that could still potentially end in disaster, one of the few positives to stand out has been the emergence of 21-year-old Ayoze Perez.
The young striker has scored important goals whenever Newcastle United needed them, including winners against Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, and West Brom, and has been one of the league’s brightest young talents.
Having been bought from Tenerife for just £1.5 million, Perez was thought to be a potential first team player. However, chronic injuries to Siem de Jong and the indifferent form of Emmanuel Riviere who took until the defeat at QPR to open his league account for the season forced Pardew to give minutes to Perez. And the move paid off.
Having scored 16 goals last season for the second division Spanish side, Perez is his side’s second highest scorer behind Cisse who has scored just twice since the turn of the year.
The fans at Tynseside have taken him as one of their own and why shouldn’t they. The Spaniard’s goal have earned his side 13 points this season, including the one against West Brom which stopped the rut of eight consecutive defeats. If they are to win against West Ham, Newcastle must find a goal or two, and Perez is their best hope of doing that.
West Ham United: Stewart Downing
Downing scored a fine goal and looked in good nick in the defeat against Everton last weekend and though the 30-year-old has been shunted around to different positions on the pitch, he has been one of the better players for the Hammers this season.
It was his reinvention as a playmaker behind the strikers that paid such rich dividends in the first half of the season and at one point the English international has more assists than anyone in the league except for Cesc Fabregas.
Downing has blamed his side’s mental weakness for their decline since Christams and had words of wisdom for every player in general.
“You’ve got to have self-belief. When things are not going well, think: ‘It will turn’” he said.
“When you’re getting abuse from the opposition fans, it’s because they see you as a threat. You have just got to take it as a bit of fun.”
The season has seen him re-emerge as an England international and has also seen him get featured in a team compiled by Football Republik as the central midfield partner of Jordan Henderson based on the Fantasy Football points of English players in the Premier League.
The pacy winger has an excellent range of passing to go along with his wonderful touch, Downing can prove to be lethal on his day and will be looking to end the season on a high.
Newcastle have been unable to find a win even if their lives depended on it, and this may turn out to be the case once against. In that scenario, their survival will rely on Hull City not winning against Manchester United, and it could turn out to be a nail biting finish for the club who looked like challenging for the European places in the first half of the season.