Newcastle United travel to West Ham after making it three wins on the spin having soared to third place in The Premier League with a resounding 2-0 win over Man United at St James' Park on Sunday thanks to goals from Joe Willock and Callum Wilson:
The Magpies stayed third top of The Premier League table on goal difference after all of the weekend's action after Spurs drew 1-1 at Goodison Park with Everton last night with three teams locked on 50 points but Eddie Howe's men have a game in hand on Man United and two games in hand over Spurs, whom Newcastle beat 2-1 earlier in the season and who must also come to St James' Park for a 6-pointer.
Eddie Howe officially refuses to admit that Newcastle are serious contenders for a Champions League finish but the Premier League table speaks volumes and with 11 games remaining in the season, his team are in pole position to finish in the Top 4.
West Ham Struggling In The Premier League
In contrast, West Ham are 14th in The Premier League on 27 points and are locked in an 8-team relegation battle in the bottom half with just 5 points separating the eight teams who occupy the 13th to 20th spots in the table:
David Moyes' men are in The Quarter Final of The Europa Conference League and play Gent in two weeks time but face Newcastle and then Fulham before that in two crucial chances to gain points with matches ticking away to secure safety from relegation.
Wednesday's game with The Magpies is the rearranged fixture from September that was postponed when Queen Elizabeth II died:
The two sides met at St James' Park in February and drew 1-1 during a sticky patch for Newcastle, who were somewhat distracted by the run to The Carabao Cup Final:
and West Ham have experienced the realities of juggling an arduous European campaign with the relentless demands of The Premier League and are having an entirely different domestic league season to the 7th placed finish they achieved last season like Alan Pardew's Newcastle United side did in the 2012/13 season after finishing fifth in 2011/12 and Moyes' future at the club is still in doubt with the recently-sacked Graham Potter the latest name to be thrown into the ring as the Scot's potential successor:
The Hammers' form has picked up since The World Cup compared to before it and Moyes' men have won some important games at The Olympic Stadium against Everton, Nottingham Forest and Southampton at the weekend:
They are certainly better at home and such wins will ultimately be the key to their survival although they face a very different prospect in the in-form Magpies.
After three consecutive defeats to Liverpool, Man United in The Carabao Cup and Man City, Newcastle have won three games on the spin against Wolves, Nottingham Forest and Man United to somewhat avenge that Cup Final disappointment at Wembley but must now focus on three away games to West Ham, Brentford and Aston Villa.
Even the Daily Mail's Craig Hope - whose normally less-than-positive outlook on The Magpies' prospects belies the meaning of his surname - is confident that The Magpies will face ahead of Man United and qualify for The Champions League next season.
Newcastle dominated Man United on Sunday and Eddie Howe was very impressed with his player's physical prowess and running against The Red Devils and the team have regained the ultra high intensity that has been the hallmark of his side this season.
With a quick turnaround of just three days between the Man United and West Ham games, the Newcastle manager might be tempted to shuffle his player list and might start Callum Wilson, who scored his 10th goal against The Hammers his favourite opponents at St James' Park in February, replace Fabian Schar who was in the wars again against The Red Devils and needed treatment for club captain Jamaal Lascelles and perhaps start Anthony Gordon, who made his Newcastle debut against West Ham instead of Jacob Murphy after he impressed during his substitute cameo on Sunday.
In his pre-match press conference, the Newcastle manager was upbeat and positive about starting a run of three away matches consecutively:
First goalscorer Joe Willock was namechecked as the only fitness doubt although Howe mentioned a few tired bodies from the effort against Man United:
After praising Alan Saint-Maximin, who he is "delighted with" for adding better decision-making to his dribbling and turning in a superb "all-round performance" on Sunday, Howe spoke of The Magpies' Top 4 "mission":
although he won't be taking West Ham lightly and would be wise to especially with Craig Pawson the man in the middle who has a poor record officiating The Magpies:
Nevertheless, a functioning & firing Newcastle United side shooting for the stars will be too hot to handle for The Hammers & should seal all 3 points at The Olympic Stadium.
Prediction - Newcastle 2 West Ham 0