West Ham Measuring Stick Match Vs. Newcastle Preview

West Ham and Newcastle clash. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
West Ham and Newcastle clash. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images) /

A few wins on the bounce and West Ham are poised to press on and up the Premier League table. The only issue is that Newcastle, one of the best-performing teams this season await the Hammers hopeful of smashing them back down to the relegation zone.

The early good news for West Ham comes from the Newcastle teamsheet. Star midfielder Bruno Guimarães will miss the match after his red card ban in the Carabao Cup. This is a massive boost to the Hammers as Guimarães is the heart of the Newcastle team and dictates a lot of their offensive bursts forward through the middle of the pitch.

Outside of Guimarães missing, West Ham will have to make any further luck they can. This can be kickstarted by sticking with the new formation Moyes has had success in against Everton and Derby.

Breaking down West Ham’s tough task of securing necessary points away at Newcastle.

The 3-4-2-1 that David Moyes has been using is seeing his best players thriving in their best positions. Notably, wingbacks/wide midfielders Emerson and Vladimir Coufal have been terrific in overloading the flanks and impacting both sides of the ball.

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As well, Declan Rice and Lucas Paqueta working a two-man midfield seems to better suit both of them, rather than having to work with an attacking midfielder ahead of them. Rice seems freer to roam up the pitch with extra midfielders out wide and with Paqueta happy to sit deeper in transition.

Said Benrahma has gone slightly cold in this formation, however, it is a small sample size. Should Moyes want to change up the team he could go with a 3-5-2 with Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen up top and Tomas Soucek in the midfield essentially playing as another striker, afforded the right to stay up top and back the Newcastle box.

Predicted team: Fabianski, Kehrer, Ogbonna, Aguerd, Coufal, Paqueta, Rice, Emerson, Bowen, Benrahma, Antonio.

While sitting third in the table currently, Newcastle are not looking AS sharp as they had since last year. The magpies haven’t scored more than two goals in a match since December 26th in a 3-0 win over Leicester.

That being said, Newcastle do not give up many goals at all. They have the lowest goals against this season (11), and the most clean sheets with Nick Pope backstopping them to 12 shutouts. Everything in this match suggests it will be a low-scoring affair.

West Ham’s success can come through attacking the middle of the pitch. The loss of Guimarães will open up opportunities for Rice and Paqueta to ignite the offence centrally. Benrahma and Bowen will also have to spring Antonio through a tough backline and will likely have to try and play on the floor to avoid their tall and physical centre-backs.

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This isn’t a must-win match for West Ham despite their woeful position in the table. Instead, the Hammers should look at this as a measuring stick game against one of the League’s best teams. Trust the game plan, play to the formation’s strengths, and minimize individual errors. Doing so will prove the fact that this West Ham team is one of the best on paper in the League.