Ball never stops.
Just three days after beating Man Utd (2-0) at St James’ Park to avenge the League Cup defeat, your boys are moving down the country to face West Ham in London after drawing (1-1) in their first matchup of the season exactly a couple of months ago.
Back then, Newcastle could not count on a suspended Bruno, and that forced Howe to drop then-left-winger Joelinton back to the midfield trio opening the door for Allan Saint-Maximin to start in the more offensive position. It was ASM’s first start since August, and the game also marked the anticipated debut of former Toffee Anthony Gordon.
After the game, fans took to their socials to criticize a super Saint-Maximin. They didn’t even know what was coming, with the match against WHU kickstarting a run of five consecutive games without a win as the Magpies would draw two outings followed by three consecutive losses—two in the Premier League sandwiching the Carabao Cup defeat to Man Red in Wembley.
That putrid run came to an abrupt end on March 12, though, and since that 2-1 victory against Wolves the lads have won three straight (that one included) scoring two goals each time out and allowing only two combined goals against (6-2 on aggregate through the last three EPL matches).
Quirks of the schedule, this matchup against West Ham actually belongs to MD7, which got suspended due to the mourning period for Queen Elizabeth II after she passed on Sep. 8th.
Believe it or not, had this game took place on its original scheduled date, Newcastle would have arrived with seven points through the first six games boasting one win, four draws, and one defeat. West Ham would have done so with four points through six matches, not that separated from the Magpies.
How things have changed...
Since the Premier League returned in time for MD8, Newcastle embarked on a 16-game unbeaten streak that lasted until Feb. 18th when Liverpool finally got the better of your superheroes beating them 0-2 at SJP and for the second time this season. Man City dropped their proverbial hammer on the Magpies in the next league game inflicting another 0-2 defeat on Howe’s side, but the team got things right following that two-game bump and has now won three in a row.
West Ham, on the other hand, is 15th in the standings with two wins, two losses, and one draw in their last five league matches. David Moyes is hanging by a thread. One would think it’s too late for a managerial change, but you just have to go around to see how it’d not be so crazy to see any sacking happening (hello, Graham Potter and Julian Nagelsmann?) at WHUHQ.
The Hammers are tied at 27 points with Bournemouth in 18th place, and the only thing saving the former from dropping into relegation places these days and giving them a bit of hope is the fact that they have a couple of games in hand, having played only 27 matches to date compared to teams ranked 11th-through-20th having all already played 29.
Too bad for West Ham, though, they won’t probably dream about earning any single point against the seemingly-reborn, again-unstoppable Magpies—nine points in their last three games and 50 through 27 played.
Eddie Howe spoke to the media on Tuesday providing some fresh takes on Newcastle’s state of affairs just hours before Wednesday’s game.
You can read everything Howe had to say here, as part of our pre-match coverage.
FotMob.com predictions at the upcoming Starting XIs from the Magpies and the Hammers are in, so let’s go through what could be coming from Newcastle’s Eddie Howe.
- Not Available: Krafth (knee), Almiron (thigh)
- Doubtful: Willock (thigh)
- Other than Joe Willock’s hamstring problems from the game against Man Utd and the long-termish absence of Miguel Almiron, Newcastle should have a clean bill of injuries in their game against West Ham on Wednesday. Howe didn’t announce any further injury or problem in his presser on Tuesday, so there’s that.
- That said, it doesn’t mean a potential forfeit of this match (in other words: not-fully-availability) by Willock won’t impact the lineup and Howe’s system. The gaffer said that Willock’s presence on the pitch would be a “late call” with the midfielder nursing a hamstring injury. Speaking on Sunday, Howe said that Willock didn’t know if it was just a cramp or something “more sinister,” though it’s fair to assume the staff knows by now and would make the proper decision.
- Howe is widely known to be a stubborn man. He doesn’t deviate that much (if at all) from his ideas and plans. That means that if he considers Willock fit, even if not at 100%, he will use him no matter what and even more considering his current unplayable-level form. That, of course, might not be necessary against a struggling West Ham side that has just 27 points through 27 games and a 2W-2L-1D record in their last five games.
- Because of that, and because NUFC will play three games in seven days between last Sunday and next Saturday, I’m leaning toward Willock resting this match with Joelinton starting for the first time since he did so against Man City more than a month ago. The Brazilian played 23 minutes off the bench last weekend coming off a two-match suspension, so he should be rested and fully fit for a 90-minute outing on Wednesday.
- Back to the whole fitness/tiredness point, Howe said yesterday that “there are a few tired bodies in the squad,” and that the game against Man Utd “was a real physical effort.” Again, hard to see Howe making a lot of changes, but with Callum Wilson, Anthony Gordon, and Elliot Anderson—along with Joelinton—all playing from the bench last Sunday, at least one of them could easily find their way toward the starting XI.
- Gordon entered the pitch and played on the right wing for 23 minutes. He’s a right-footed forward, but a natural left-winger. That said, I’m betting on him starting above Jacob Murphy today.
- Wilson found the back of the net against Man Red after failing to score in his prior four matches. The last time he had scored one before that drought? That’s correct, Feb. 4th in the 1-1 draw against West Ham United and just three minutes into that match. Could he make it to the XI? Maybe, but Alexander Isak has been so unstoppable of late that it’s nearly impossible to drop him on pure form.
- Barring a huge surprise, expect no changes in the defensive line, let alone in goal. No fitness issues were reported among the main players at the back, so it’s going to be your usual stout unit defending the castle.
CHN Predicted Lineup
DEF Trippier - Schar - Botman - Burn
MID Longstaff - Bruno - Joelinton
WNG Gordon - Saint-Maximin
West Ham XI
- Date: Wednesday, April 5th
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST / 15:00 EST
- Location: London Stadium, London (England)
- Broadcasts: fuboTV (CAN) — nbcsports.com, NBC Sports App, USA Network (USA) — SKY GO Extra, Sky Ultra HD, Sky Sports Premier League, Talksport 2 Radio UK, Sky Sports Main Event (UK)
For all your international watching needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com.
Please do not share or discuss links to illegal streams here.
Howay the Lads!