West Ham United will host a resurgent Newcastle club at Boleyn Ground on Saturday. The Magpies are in their best form of the season. While West Ham has surprised everyone with an excellent start to the campaign.
It seemed impossible just a few weeks ago, but Newcastle appears set to challenge for a European football spot for next season. The club has won five Premier League matches in a row and currently sit in fifth position in the table.
West Ham fans have rarely enjoyed better days. The club’s fortunes have improved in large part because of several good summer signings. The Hammers are currently in sixth position, just one point behind their opponents on Saturday.
Injuries and Suspensions
Newcastle have turned their season around after a very poor start. What makes this all the more remarkable is that they have achieved this despite countless injuries to key players. And the news did not improve this week.
Ryan Taylor left last week’s match against Queens Park Ranger with a knee injury. Luckily, the injury is not serious but he is still expected to miss several weeks of action. Highly-rated youngster Rolando Aarons is expected to be out longer with a hamstring injury. Cheikh Tioté has missed several weeks with a thigh injury as well. Tioté remains doubtful for Saturday.
Mehdi Abeid (broken toe) and captain Fabricio Coloccini (calf) are out indefinitely. Steven Taylor also sat out last week’s match against Queens Park Rangers with a knee injury. His status is uncertain. Siem de Jong (thigh), Gabriel Obertan (thigh) and Jonas Gutierrez (cancer) are all out long-term.
But West Ham have their own injury concerns. The club could be without defensive midfielder Alex Song who did not play last week against Everton because of an unspecified injury. Summer signing Enner Valencia also missed last week’s match. As did, English midfielder Stewart Downing who is battling a knee injury.
Senegal striker Diafra Sakho could return from a shoulder injury against Newcastle. Defender Winston Reid picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Everton and will be suspended for Saturday’s match. Former Newcastle idol Andy Carroll has returned from an ankle injury and should be available.
Why tamper with a good thing? Alan Pardew is expected to once again go with the 4-2-3-1 formation against West Ham. Injuries make his starting line-up much harder to predict. The injury to Ryan Taylor will likely open up a position for Yoan Gouffran or Vurnon Anita. And Pardew could be tempted to swap Ayoze Pérez for Papiss Cissé at the striker position.
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has been much more creative this season when it comes to tactics, employing several different formation. Last week against Everton, West Ham played with five at the back. But West Ham has had the most success this season using a 4-4-2 formation, with Stewart Downing behind the two strikers.
Injuries to several key players forced Allardyce to change his tactics last week. Song, Valencia, Downing and Sakho are all doubtful for Saturday. And they have all been vital to the club’s early season success. Sakho leads the club in goals this season with six. While Downing and Valencia have produced much of the team’s creativity.
West Ham are coming off a 2-1 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park last weekend. They have now gone three matches without a victory, their worst stretch of the season. But the club has been good at home this season. They are unbeaten in their last four matches at the Boleyn Ground. That includes victories over Liverpool and Manchester City.
Newcastle beat Queens Park Rangers at home last week thanks to a second-half goal by Moussa Sissoko. The club will be looking for their seventh consecutive victory in all competitions. The Magpies have overcome their road troubles with three consecutive wins away from home as well.
Saturday’s match will be heralded as a clash between two of the Premier League’s most improved teams. West Ham is expected to be without several key players because of injuries, leaving Allardyce with fewer options. Newcastle should be able to take advantage of a depleted Hammers squad. The Magpies come out on top once again.
West Ham United 1 – 2 Newcastle United