Newcastle United will host West Ham United on Saturday in a match that features two sides that have yet to get off the mark for the current campaign. The pressure is on both teams and in that aspect, it could be an advantage to be away from home. The stadium will be nervy, especially if the Magpies don’t get off to a strong start and that could have a negative impact on the players.
Rafa Benitez is facing one of the biggest challenges of his career as he attempts to establish Newcastle as a Premier League force again. There has been an overreaction to the first two matches, as they weren’t easy fixtures. A lot will be learnt about this team over the next few weeks, as they have matches against West Ham, Swansea City, Stoke City and Brighton. They need to take a good haul from these fixtures or they could be facing a deficit at the bottom of the league.
The home side can attribute their poor form to a lack of incomings, but West Ham don’t have the same luxury as they have recruited well this summer. The problems seem to be deep-rooted and Slaven Bilic has already come under pressure. It hasn’t helped that they have had to start the season with three away matches, but that isn’t an excuse. They will see this weekend as a good opportunity to pick up three points. If they don’t, their manager will edge even closer to the exit door.
The Magpies have started the season in poor form and have lost three successive matches in all competitions. Their loss in the week to Nottingham Forest piled the pressure, but they had made ten changes and used a few players that are unlikely to feature in the Premier League. There have been positive signs, especially defensively, during their first two league fixtures, but they need to pick up a result to brighten the mood.
West Ham have started the season in poor form and have already conceded seven goals in the Premier League, which underlines their defensive concerns. They managed to pick up a good victory in the week to overcome Cheltenham, but it was a match that they really should have won, even with the changes that were made.
Florian Lejeune could be back to start in defence, which means that Ciaran Clark will be shifted to left-back. Aleksandar Mitrovic scored in the week and showed enough to earn a start.
Manuel Lanzini would be the player to replace Marko Arnautovic in the starting eleven. That is the only change that the visitors are likely to make.
Jonjo Shelvey remains on the sidelines as he serves the final game of his three-match ban. DeAndre Yedlin and Florian Lejeune could return from injury to boost the defensive options. Paul Dummett will miss out with a hamstring injury.
Winston Reid won’t be available as he suffers with a calf strain. Marko Arnautovic will serve the second of his three-match suspension. Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll could be back, but remain serious doubts for the weekend.
Score prediction – Newcastle United 1-1 West Ham United
This is going to be a nervy fixture as both sides will want to pick up a win before the international break. West Ham’s defence hasn’t convinced and Newcastle should be confident of getting at least one goal. That said, the away side have a dangerous attack and they will believe that they can outscore their opponents on Saturday. A score draw seems to be the most likely result.