West Ham welcome Newcastle to Upton Park on Saturday in a game which could see Andy Carroll start his first game this season after returning against Cardiff last weekend. The Hammers recorded a crucial 2-0 win against the Bluebirds after defeats against fellow strugglers Fulham in their last league match, followed by two very heavy losses in cup competitions. Sam Allardyce was a man under intense pressure after those results but remained resilient along with his players who showed a lot of character and determination. Not only did they grab the win and keep a clean sheet but also moved out of the relegation positions and into 17th place. West Ham haven’t won at home since the 3-0 victory against Fulham at the end of November. However, their last home match ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw against West Brom and they will want to go one better against Newcastle.
Alan Pardew and his men will be bitterly disappointed with the 2-0 defeat to Man City after having a seemingly legitimate goal from Cheick Tiote ruled out for offside and being on the wrong end of some unlucky decisions. That result, coupled with the losses against Arsenal and West Brom, means that The Magpies have lost their last three Premier League games without scoring and will be keen not to make it four when they visit Upton Park. Newcastle enjoyed a great end to the year, winning seven of their ten games in November and December, which has helped them maintain their 8th place position in the league despite their recent defeats.
In the last three fixtures between the sides, there has only been one goal which came in the 2012 fixture with West Ham grabbing the victory. The reverse fixture earlier in the season ended goalless and again this seems like a match which will provide few goals so scoring the first goal will be vital.
James Tomkins joins former Newcastle player Kevin Nolan in serving a suspension having been sent off against Cardiff. Collins, Reid and O’Brien will have late fitness tests but are unlikely to feature in the game along with Demel who sustained an elbow injury in the last game. Vaz Te is still a long term absentee and a decision to play Ravel Morrison (groin) will be made nearer the time with the player linked with a possible move to Fulham this week.
Newcastle have only Coloccini and Taylor out injured and Pardew is likely to keep the same team which played against Man City. Debuchy is currently serving a suspension and his replacement, Yanga-Mbiwa, will be relieved to have not received a red card for a shocking tackle on Samir Nasri who is set to miss the next two months as a result.
- In the last six games between both sides in the Premier League, West Ham have claimed eight points (W2 D2), whereas Newcastle won both home and away fixtures in the 2010/11 season, which included a 5-0 home win over The Hammers.
- Newcastle have gone 280 minutes without a Premier League goal, having not scored since the Boxing Day win against Stoke City.
- Newcastle have also failed to score in the last three Premier League games against the Hammers.
- West Ham have kept nine clean sheets this season, the most in the league.
- West Ham have given up 14 points from winning positions this season, also the most in the league.
Newcastle: Cheick Tiote
After putting in an outstanding man of the match performance in their undeserved defeat against Man city, Cheick Tiote will want to put in a similar performance and be on the winning side against West Ham. The well rounded holding midfielder has had a good season so far and has been one of the key players in the heart of the Newcastle midfield. Mainly recognised for his defensive attributes, he has made a total of 68 tackles, winning 45. Ground duels are another strength of the tough tackling Ivorian with a total of 203 ground duels made so far, winning 114 of them and being involved in a ground duel every seven minutes. His passing accuracy is a standout feature having attempted 1049 passes with an impressive 88% accuracy rate. Tiote will be very aggrieved having had his goal disallowed but will be keen to help his team to a positive result against West Ham to make up for it.
West Ham: Mark Noble
Just like Tiote, Mark Noble put in an outstanding man of the match performance with the difference being that Noble was on the winning side away to Cardiff. Noble grabbed the goal that sealed the win, taking his tally to two for the season and also creating two chances which gives him 36 chances created for the campaign with one assist. A key member of The Hammers’ midfield, Noble has been impressive in a defensive capacity managing to make 11 ground duels and winning 7 of them whilst also winning 96 of his 176 tackles as well. Similar to Tiote, Mark Noble has been good with his passing so far having made 41 passes in his last match with 35 of them being accurate, giving him a total of 1154 passes with an 84% accuracy rate. With both players on form, the midfield battle between these two players will be key in determining which team comes out on top.
This match will be very tight but I highly doubt that it will turn into a goal fest by any means. Both teams have been struggling for goals of late so I will have to be in favour of a low scoring draw on this occasion, with both teams determined not to lose the game.