One of the most intriguing fixtures of Premier League Matchday 8 pits West Ham United and Newcastle United against each other at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Only one point separates the two sides ahead of kick-off, with seventh-placed West Ham trailing the coveted fourth place by three points despite losing twice in their last three league outings.
David Moyes’ team returned to winning ways last weekend with a comfortable 2-0 home triumph over a beleaguered Sheffield United side, following up a narrow 1-0 win over Lincoln City in the League Cup.
Goals from Lucas Paqueta and Nayef Aguerd on either side of half-time catapulted the Hammers to a 2-1 Europa League victory at Freiburg on Thursday, solidifying their confidence ahead of this round.
West Ham’s success on German soil saw them set an unprecedented feat in English football history, becoming the first-ever Premier League side to go unbeaten in 17 consecutive European matches.
Although none of those games came in the Champions League, it takes nothing away from the Hammers’ outstanding accomplishment.
Newcastle’s result in midweek European action perhaps even went as far as to overshadow West Ham’s record-breaking achievement, with Eddie Howe’s side demolishing Paris Saint-Germain 4-1 on home turf.
In their second game since returning to the Champions League group stage for the first time in two decades, the Magpies proved their continental credentials in remarkable fashion.
While Newcastle relinquished a five-game run without conceding in all competitions, they made it four wins in a row, including a brace of landslide victories over newcomers Burnley and Sheffield United.
West Ham have fared well at home this season, racking up three wins in four competitive outings at the London Stadium, except for a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City in mid-September.
Each of those three triumphs yielded a two-goal margin, with two seeing them open the scoring within the first 25 minutes, highlighting the potential for a fast start.
Flying out of the traps would come in handy, considering the Hammers have struggled against Newcastle recently, going three consecutive league encounters against them without winning (D2, L1).
One clean sheet across their last six home matches across all competitions highlights the significance of kicking things off on the front foot.
Since slumping to a 3-1 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion in early September, Newcastle have netted a resounding 11 unanswered goals across their subsequent three league wins.
Despite a historic 8-0 humbling of the Blades on their most recent Premier League road trip, the Magpies cannot get too comfortable, given their underwhelming away showings preceding that trip.
Howe’s side had not only gone winless on their first three competitive travels this season (D1, L2) but also scored only once in that sequence.
Against this backdrop, Newcastle have flourished at the London Stadium lately, bagging at least two goals on three of their last four top-flight visits to this venue (W3, D1), including a thumping 5-1 win in 2022/23.
This clash will come too soon for long-term absentee Benjamin Johnson and veteran defender Aaron Cresswell, with Michail Antonio expected to make the matchday squad despite sustaining a minor muscle injury.
Newcastle will lack several significant first-team figures as Harvey Barnes, Sven Botman and Joe Willock remain on the sidelines with injuries.
Antony Gordon serves a one-game ban after accumulating yellow cards while there’s still a question mark over Joelinton’s head.
West Ham United potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Alphonse Areola; Vladimir Coufal, Kurt Zouma, Nayef Aguerd, Emerson Palmieri; Tomas Soucek, Edson Alvarez; Mohammed Kudus, James Ward-Prowse, Lucas Paqueta; Jarrod Bowen.
Newcastle United potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Nick Pope; Kieran Trippier, Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar, Dan Burn; Bruno Guimaraes, Sandro Tonali, Sean Longstaff; Jacob Murphy, Alexander Isak, Miguel Almiron.
We Say: West Ham United 1-1 Newcastle United
Both sides head into the final Premier League round ahead of October’s international break amid a purple patch, but we can envisage a draw.
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