West Ham ran out comfortable winners over Newcastle at the London Stadium courtesy of goals from Declan Rice and Mark Noble.
The Hammers opened the new Billy Bonds stand perfectly when Declan Rice headed in Robert Snodgrass’ corner. Rice’s goal certainly seemed to quieten down the Newcastle fans, who this week have been suggesting Sean Longstaff as the superior prospect.
The match got even better for the Hammers when Javier Hernandez was brought down in the box by Florian Lejeune for a clear penalty. Captain Mark Noble stood up and slammed it into the top left corner to put the Hammers 2-0 up.
Newcastle came back at West Ham after the break. Ex-Hammer Mo Diame drove through West Ham’s defence on multiple occasions but lacked an end product.
The second half started to patter out, and the closest Newcastle came to get a goal was through a Solomon Rondon free-kick. Lukasz Fabianski however, was at hand to save the shot and protect the clean sheet.
The game ended with West Ham as winners and keeping only their fifth clean sheet of the season, pushing up to 9th with the win and sitting on 39 points. Whereas Newcastle drop to 14th and are only six points off the bottom three keeping an eye over their shoulder.
Rice trumps Longstaff
Sean Longstaff has had a significant rise to prominence in the Newcastle team. The Englishman has scored one goal in his nine appearances but has also become the first name on the team sheet for Newcastle. Due to his recent fine performances the 21-year-old is in line for an England under-21 call up. Longstaff has also been receiving raving reviews from Newcastle fans who have been suggesting that Longstaff should be ahead of Declan Rice in the Three Lions set-up.
Rice showed his superiority in the match, the 20-year-old scored the first goal of the game with a fantastic header. Rice then proceeded to ‘shh’ the Newcastle fans in his celebration, silencing his critics in the most effective way. After Rice scored, he played a fantastic game and controlled the midfield and nullified Isaac Hayden and Longstaff so well it led to their early substitutions.
Rice and Longstaff both have huge potential to form a midfield pair for England in the future, but for now Longstaff will have to settle for a place behind Rice as he is believed to be a shoo-in for an England call-up.
Still a place for Arnautovic
Marko Arnautovic has had turbulent time at West Ham recently, but his cameo appearance against Newcastle showed promise. The Austrian is slowly starting to recapture his form from before his failed transfer to the Chinese Super League. Arnautovic was chasing down defenders and played like he was where he wanted to be at the club. This was felt by the whole West Ham team, evidenced by Mark Noble handing him the captain’s armband when he was substituted.
This is brilliant news for the Hammers as it provides them with another fantastic option in the team again. Javier Hernandez has been leading the line in recent weeks, and although his build-up play has been good, his goalscoring record recently has been poor. The Mexican has only scored once since December, a controversial handball against Fulham. Manuel Pellegrini will surely bring Arnautovic into the starting line-up soon to lead the line.
Newcastle need more than Almiron
Despite Newcastle’s recent good form which has been down to the arrivals of Sean Longstaff and Miguel Almiron to the starting eleven, players must start to share the burden of Premier League survival for the Magpies. Almiron, Newcastle’s record signing, has started well but he can’t take Newcastle to the top half of the Premier League by himself.
The investment into Almiron is a good start from owner Mike Ashely. For success to return to the North-East club then there needs to be continued investment to the same degree. Added investment will also go a long way to help convince manager Rafa Benitez to stay at the club.
The summer transfer window will be crucial for the Magpies should they stay in the Premier League, which they are likely to do. But if they want to progress up the league and avoid a relegation battle next season more players like Almiron need to be recruited.
Ogbonna back to his best
When defender Fabian Balbuena got injured Hammers fans were worried when Angelo Ogbonna was brought back into the starting eleven. Some fans were wanting Reece Oxford to be selected over Ogbonna before he was loaned out to Augsburg.
The Italian defender has produced mixed form in the last couple of seasons. Ogbonna however, has earned his place back for good with his recent showings. The defender has cut out his defensive errors, which he had become liable to make.
The 30-year-old has been able to dominate combative strikers such as Solomon Rondon and Aleksandar Mitrovic in recent weeks. He has definitely given Manuel Pellegrini a conundrum now Fabian Balbuena has returned to training.
Billy Bonds honoured
West Ham’s win topped off a perfect day for former player and club legend Billy Bonds.
The club have honoured their record appearance holder by naming the East Stand at the London Stadium the Billy Bonds Stand. Bonds made 799 first-team appearances for West Ham scoring 61 goals between 1967 to 1988. Bond also captained West Ham to two FA Cup victories, one in 1975 and again in 1980.
Although Bonds retired in 1984, he returned to play for the club due to an injury crisis and earned himself his place back in the team. This return was hugely successful and he played on for a few seasons at a high level. Bonds even won ‘Hammer of the Year’ in 1987, despite being well over 40-years-old. Bonds is a true legend at West Ham United and finds himself in good company, as Sir Trevor Brooking and Bobby Moore also have stands named after them.
Man of the Match: Issa Diop
Despite Declan Rice’s fantastic performance, Issa Diop just pips him to the award.
Ogbonna put in a dominant display to stop Newcastle’s attack from creating many chances to score, When Newcastle did get through, Diop was there; one example being his last-ditch tackle on Fabian Schar who was through on goal. Diop was immense and helped West Ham keep their fifth clean sheet of the season.