West Ham host Newcastle with both sides eager to kickstart the new Premier League season in style this weekend. Neither was particularly impressive during a gruelling 2019-20 campaign for multiple reasons, but will be ambitious about their chances of breaking into the top-half, starting with tonight’s curtain-raiser. Will either side emerge victorious?
West Ham vs Newcastle Preview: A defining season for both begins
West Ham finished five points adrift of Newcastle in 16th last term and haven’t had the best offseason with some questionable transfer business.
By contrast, Saturday’s visitors suddenly find themselves on a roll despite their ongoing takeover saga with three eyecatching acquisitions in quick succession.
Bournemouth duo Ryan Fraser (free) and Callum Wilson (£20m), as well as Norwich fullback Jamal Lewis (£14.9m).
After an underwhelming finish once Project Restart got underway, suddenly the Toon Army have something to celebrate ahead of the new season.
Wilson is tasked with the responsibility of improving a side whose top goalscorer was midfielder Jonjo Shelvey (6). Dwight Gayle, Joelinton and Andy Carroll had that figure combined.
He’s set himself the ambitious but achievable target of reaching 100 Premier League goals – is already on 41 and after agreeing a four-year deal, can definitely do so.
Whether he stays fit or not though, is arguably crucial to his creative aspirations. He’ll undoubtedly be helped by Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron, two big 2019 signings.
Watch how West Ham perform, after their three-match friendly win streak was snapped by Championship newcomers Bournemouth on September 5. Jarrod Bowen had a first-half brace, while second-half substitute Felipe Anderson also scored during their 5-3 defeat.
On paper, they have quality players but ultimately haven’t meshed together well enough to sustain a good run of form throughout the season. Does that change, starting this weekend?
Declan Rice played 180 minutes in just four days on international duty with Gareth Southgate’s England side during their recent UEFA Nations League fixtures.
He’ll likely partner Tomas Soucek in central midfield, after the 25-year-old made his loan move from Slavia Praha a permanent move for £14.6m earlier this summer.
He’s been largely excellent for them since league play resumed – with goals against Chelsea, Watford and Newcastle themselves in July.
Callum Wilson’s scoring record against the Hammers – seven goals in eight – hasn’t gone unnoticed, but Newcastle’s pre-season friendly results don’t exude confidence.
Steve Bruce has some selection dilemmas to ponder and neither team are great defensively, so this should serve up goals.
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Martin; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Noble, Fornals; Antonio.
Newcastle (4-3-3): Darlow; Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Yedlin; Longstaff, Shelvey, Almiron; Saint-Maximin, Wilson, Ritchie.
Pictures’ source: Chronicle Live, Evening Standard