Newcastle United vs. West Ham United Match Preview

Ian Walton

A look at team news, possible lineups and tactics, and a prediction for Saturday's tie between Newcastle United and West Ham United.

Newcastle United will host West Ham United in the first home match of the season at St James' Park. Newcastle come into the match having lost last week at presumed title contender Manchester City by a score of 4-0, while West Ham soundly defeated newly promoted Cardiff City at home.

Team News (aka #TiredBodies)

For Newcastle, Jonas Gutierrez is out with his hamstring problem and Cheik Tiote is a doubt with a strain (of what, is anybody's guess). Meanwhile, Steven Taylor is out serving the first match of his three-match ban for his sending off last week. Finally, since Yohan Cabaye continues to be the subject of bids by Arsenal and Manchester United, he may or may not play.

On the other side of the ball, Andy Carroll will not play for West Ham due to a heel or ankle injury (depending on who is doing the reporting), making this the second time in three years that he's been unable to play when his team visits St James' Park.

Possible Lineups & Tactic

Last week West Ham lined up in a rather defensive 4-1-4-1, which served to shut down Cardiff City's attack and forced the Bluebirds to try to generate something positive through the midfield. On the attacking side of the ball, former Toon target Modibo Maiga played alone up top and partnered well with Joe Cole, who moved forward in support. Kevin Nolan did his "make a late run and find the ball in the right place at the right time" thing to score the Hammers' second goal, which effectively finished the match. Stewart Downing, who was effective for 20 minutes when he came on for Matt Jarvis, may start this week's match, according to reports.

The combination of Cole and Nolan will be a handful for whomever plays the primary holding midfield role for Newcastle, so we are hoping it's Moussa Sissoko, who is a better ball-winner than Vurnon Anita, perhaps with Anita alongside to facilitate counterattacks. The 4-1-4-1 that Sam Allardyce favors will almost certainly swallow Papiss Cisse up as he was last week (assuming he plays as a lone striker; one spurious report on Twitter Friday had Shola Ameobi starting, which wouldn't be the worst thing in this circumstance), so wing play will be crucial. With Jonas out, perhaps there is an opporunity for Sylvain Marveaux to step in and provide some quality service from the edge.

Along the back four, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa will likely step in for the suspended Taylor, and the official site teased a possible start for Paul Dummett at left back as Davide Santon continues to nurse a hip injury. Dummett was praised for his performance in a half of action at Manchester City on Monday.

Possible Lineups:

NUFC (4-2-3-1): Krul | Debuchy, Yanga-Mbiwa, Coloccini, Dummett | Sissoko, Anita | Ben Arfa, Gouffran, Marveaux | Cisse

WHUFC (4-1-4-1): Jaaskelainen | Demel, Collins, Reid, O'Brien | Noble | Cole, Nolan, Diame, Downing | Maiga

Prediction

Big Fat Sam and Kevin Nolan always seem to do well against Newcastle, who are the betting favorites. West Ham were the only team Newcastle failed to score against last season, and a major factor was Allardyce's tactic that seems specifically suited to counter a team with Newcastle's makeup. Having said that, it's hard to see Newcastle being shut out twice to start the season. An in-form Tim Krul will keep the Magpies in it, and they will grab a late goal for the draw. Prediction: 1-1.

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