Newcastle play West Ham United in the early kick off at 12.30pm on Saturday afternoon hoping to make it back-to-back wins after an Allan Saint-Maximum masterclass won all three points for Newcastle in a devastating second-half display against Burnley, creating the equaliser and scoring the winning goal within 7 minutes of coming on at Turf Moor:
The Frenchman and goalkeeper Martin Dubravka were named in Alan Shearer's Premier League Team of the Week after that and the Slovakian's heroics between the posts had..
set the platform for the second-half comeback that was the first time in The Premier League Steve Bruce's Newcastle had trailed at half-time and went on to win the match:
The win lifted Newcastle in 17th place six points higher than 18th-placed Fulham, who lost 1-0 to a late Adama Traore solo goal on Friday night although it is now West Brom managed by former Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce who has some Newcastle fans worried after his side beat Southampton 3-0 to record back-to-back wins after hammering Chelsea 5-2 to pull within 8 points of Newcastle with 7 games left to play.
A win for Newcastle would complete a season's double over West Ham after the 2-0 victory back in September at The London Stadium in the season's curtain-raiser, after which few supporters or pundits predicted Newcastle would be fighting relegation and David Moyes' Hammers competing to finish in The Top 4 Champions League spots:
In what was always going to be a strange season due to the Corona Virus and no fans in stadiums, few could have written the contrasting stories of the two club's seasons:
When Newcastle ripped up their transfer playbook in the summer splashing £20M on then-28 year-old England international striker Callum Wilson, it was the injection of hope, optimism and goals that Magpies fans needed ahead of the 2020/21 season.
Hearing the ultra-confident Wilson licking his lips in anticipation of making his Newcastle debut against West Ham, for whom he is the bogey man:
"It’s West Ham, I like playing against them,” he said.
It’s a nice team to play against, it gives me confidence going into that game having scored so many goals against them in the past."
then duly scoring his 9th goal in 8 Premier League appearances against The Hammers changed the mood on Tyneside and kicked the season off to the perfect start:
It was the first time Newcastle had won their first game of a Premier League season since Alan Pardew's men beat Spurs on the opening day 2012/3 season and after the 10th Premier League match of the season, Wilson had scored 7 goals and Newcastle were 13th in the table, 4 points off 4th spot and in The League Cup Quarter-Cup Final.
Then Newcastle suffered the worst Covid-19 outbreak to affect a Premier League club affecting half the squad, lost attacking talisman Allan Saint-Maximum & goal-scoring Captain Jamaal Lascelles to long-term Covid and the club went into an injury tailspin leading to just 5 wins in the last 22 top flight matches following the Covid outbreak, a record just better to 4 wins in the opening 22 games of the 2018/9 campaign during which Rafa Benitez declared it would be a 'miracle' if Newcastle survived.
Newcastle bought Miguel Almiron in the January window that season and kicked on up the table finishing the campaign in 13th spot with 45 points and this season, the addition of Graeme Jones as Assistant Coach has galvanised The Magpies although so much depends on the fitness of attacking stars Wilson, Saint-Maximum & Almiron, with whom Newcastle are an entirely different animal as the first half of the Southampton game at St. James' Park, the last time they all started a game together, demonstrated:
Saturday's game against West Ham Could be the first time The Trynamic Trio have started a match since that 3-2 win over Southampton during which Wilson pulled a hamstring injury and Saint-Maximin & Almiron both faced spells on the sidelines after picking up injuries a game later against Wolves although Bruce has a decision to make whether to start them or introduce them off the bench. West Ham tend to start games very strongly yet concede as matches go on so it may be better to crank up the pressure later in the game & trust the substitutes can make a game-changing impact:
Now they're available, its West Ham, the surprise team of the season, who have a mounting injury list losing key men Angelo Ogbonna, Michael Antonio & Declan Rice before Sunday's 3-2 victory over Leicester and Aaron Cresswell and Mark Noble picking up injuries in that match, which was won again by two goals from the outstanding England international Jesse Lingard, who is enjoying the purple patch of his career since joining West Ham on loan from Man United in the January transfer window:
David Moyes explained Cresswell would have a late fitness test on Friday but is a doubt for the trip to Newcastle, then praised Magpies boss Steve Bruce and suggested owner Mike Ashley had made the right decision in sticking by his Head Coach when fans were calling for his head during turbulent times:
In his presser, Bruce was equally complimentary about his opposite number on Saturday saying 'Moyesy' has proved himself "a top class manager again" guiding West Ham to within sight of The Champions League places with seven games left to go but preferred not to talk about the potential Newcastle takeover which has hit the headlines again this week, choosing instead to concentrate on a big game for Newcastle in which a win would bring The Magpies within 'touching distance' of safety and pile the pressure on the chasing pack of Fulham & West Brom and Southampton, |Brighton & Burnley above.
Prediction - Newcastle 3 West Ham 2