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Newcastle United-West Ham United Preview
Two sides that spent October struggling with consistency look for better things in November as West Ham United host Newcastle United at London Stadium on Saturday.
The Irons (3-4-3) are comfortably mid-table on 13 points, on the lowest rung of a four-team scrum on goal difference behind Manchester United, Sheffield United, and Bournemouth, but Manuel Pellegrini's side are winless in four matches (0-2-2) after taking 11 points from their first six.
They were pegged back 1-1 by the promoted Blades last weekend at home, with Robert Snodgrass' first-half goal canceled out by Lys Mousset. Snodgrass nearly snatched three points late for West Ham, but his shot in the final quarter-hour hit the woodwork. The Irons have taken one point from their last two home matches after posting clean sheets and claiming the maximum six from the previous two.
Pellegrini has been at a loss to explain the ebb and flow of his side, who have beaten Manchester United and should have defeated Chelsea before settling for a draw while losing to Crystal Palace and a faltering Everton side before being held by Sheffield.
"You must not play the game thinking they are a bigger team and are impossible to beat. I think you must work on attacking and defending during the week and try to play to your best," the Chilean said at his Thursday press conference. "After that, the result is down to a lot of different things. You must believe that every team will be difficult.
"I don't think that we played bad against Crystal Palace. We had lots of chances to win the game, and also against Sheffield United, but we didn't, so we need to have more attention and try to keep a clean sheet and to decide the game. In both cases we had the option to decide the game before they drew and before that, Palace beat us with two set-pieces. I think we must try to improve."
West Ham have no new injury concerns as Michail Antonio, Jack Wilshire and Lukasz Fabianski all remain sidelined. Pellegrini is hopeful Antonio will be available after the international break, and defender Winston Reid played his first competitive match in 20 months for the Under-23 side following a knee injury suffered against Swansea City in March 2018.
Newcastle United (2-3-5) continue to hover just above the drop, entering this contest with more points (9) than goals (6). The Magpies have yet to score more than one goal in any league contest and also conceded in the second half to settle for one point in a 1-1 draw at home versus Wolverhampton on Sunday.
Talisman and centre back Jamaal Lascelles gave Newcastle the lead on 37 minutes when he turned in a cross from fellow centre back Federico Fernandez, and Steve Bruce's team clung for dear life after Sean Longstaff got his marching orders in the 82nd minute as Wolves turned the match into one-way traffic and nearly got a late winner at the Gallowgate End for a second straight season.
"I think in the first half we played really well - we controlled the game, moved the ball really well, created a few chances and scored a goal. We managed the first half well," Fernandez told nufc.co.uk after his first league start of the term.
"The second half was totally different. We were in the same shape, but we didn't pass the ball enough to create chances. They started pushing, we were good in our defensive shape to control them. But it was one action, they scored and after the red card, in the last 15 minutes, we got a point."
Record summer signing Joelinton continues to struggle to find space in the final third, but the same could be said of every attacking Newcastle option. No one has yet to score a second goal, and defender Jetro Willems is the only Toon with both a goal and an assist in league play.
The match will serve as a potential homecoming for striker Andy Carroll, who is trying to overcome a groin injury to at least be available to Bruce on the bench. Carroll, who has logged just 89 minutes in four appearances off the bench, had 93 goals for the Irons in all competitions spanning the last six seasons, highlighted by his 22 in Premier League play in 2012-13.
West Ham recorded their first double over Newcastle since 1998-99 last term, smashing five by Martin Dubravka without reply in the two wins. The Magpies had gone 12-7-4 in the previous 23 top-flight matches between the clubs.
Updated October 31, 2019