Newcastle United vs West Ham United
Venue: St. James’ Park
Referee: Martin Atkinson
The Magpies will entertain the Hammers on the opening weekend of the Premier League season this Sunday. St. James’ Park will be buzzing with the return of fans at full capacity.
Steve Bruce hasn’t had the luxury of signing any marquee players this summer, so far. Though, there is hope that they will be able to secure the signature of Joe Willock from Arsenal very soon. Willock showed sublime form for the Magpies at the end of last season while he was on loan at the club. The home side came out on top in their most recent pre-season friendly against Norwich City. A 3-0 drubbing spoke more highly of post covid/injury woes for the Canaries than about the dominance of the Magpies. Nonetheless, Bruce will be happy with the way his side have fared during the pre-season.
Just like his counterpart, David Moyes hasn’t really strengthened his squad with new signings as well. Goalkeeper Alphonso Areola’s arrival on loan from PSG has been the main piece of business conducted by the Hammers. Whether he’ll be Fabianski’s understudy or slot straight in as their number one is still to be seen. Moyes will be delighted with his team’s performance in their most recent pre-season friendly against Atalanta. The Hammers cantered to a comfortable 2-0 victory against their Serie A opponents with goals from star striker Michail Antonio and Pablo Fornals.
Bruce will be looking to match if not better their 12th placed finish from last season. A lot would depend on the fitness of star players like Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin. Whereas, Moyes will find it tough to reach the lofty heights of a 6th placed finish last time out. Balancing the Europa League with the Premier League will definitely be a challenge and a half for the veteran manager.
With the departure of in form Jesse Lingard back to his parent club Manchester United, Moyes will be hoping last year’s signing Benrahma can light up the Premier League and fill in the void left behind by Lingard. If pre-season form is anything to go by, the Algerian looks more than likely to have a breakout season. This game has all the ingredients necessary for an exciting encounter and both managers will be hoping their respective teams can get off to a good start.
The home team will be without both their main goalkeepers Martin Dubravka and Karl Darlow due to injury. Freddie Woodman is all set to start between the sticks for the Magpies. Apart from this, Paul Dummett and Elliott Anderson are doubtful for Sunday as well.
West Ham United
Manuel Lanzini is a doubt after picking a knock during pre-season. Angelo Ogbonna and Arthur Masuaku will not be available as well, due to respective injury issues. New signing Areola should start on the bench for his new team.
Predicted Starting XIs
Newcastle United (3-4-1-2): Woodman; Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark; Murphy, Hayden, S. Longstaff, Ritchie; Fraser; Wilson, Saint-Maximin
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Coufal, Diop, Dawson, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Benrahma, Fornals; Antonio
Score Prediction: Newcastle United 1-3 West Ham
This could turn out to be one of the more higher scoring games of the opening weekend but I feel the away side will have enough firepower to blow the Toon away.