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Nov 11 / Jamie Hardesty

Match Preview: West Ham Home

Newcastle welcome West Ham to St. James’ Park this afternoon, where the return of former stars Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll will get much attention.

The duo played an integral part to Newcastle’s promotion push from the championship just three seasons ago although both will surely face frosty receptions from large parts of the crowd.

Team News:

Alan Pardew is without the suspended Cheick Tiote and Fabricio Coloccini, whilst defenders James Perch and Danny Simpson are set to miss the game through injury. Demba Ba may make the starting line up although his shin injury may rule him out.

Hatem Ben Arfa and Jonas Gutierrez are set to return to the starting lineup alongside Papiss Cisse, as Pardew was able to rest key players during Newcastle’s midweek Europa game.

How will the team set up?

Provided Ba is fit he will partner Cisse upfront, with Jonas and HBA likely to return to the wings in a 4-4-2 lineup. Although Pardew’s tinkering could see Newcasle lineup in a 4-3-3 with Jonas returning to central midfield and Cisse being pushed out to the left or right, with Ba in the centre.

Much depends on the fitness of Danny Simpson today. With Anita and Cabaye likely to partner Jonas in midfield and Perch ruled out, we may see Davide Santon shifted to right back and young Shane Ferguson come in at left back.

Newcastle could be without dependable Danny today

Possible 11:

4-3-3

Krul

Santon Taylor Williamson Ferguson

Cabaye Anita Jonas

HBA Ba Cisse

The Opposition:

West Ham have enjoyed a positive return to the Premier League so far this season, with the capture of Carroll on loan quite the coup for a side with the ambition of simply surviving in the league. The £35 million striker will keep West Ham up according to Sam Allardyce, although the on loan number 8 is yet to score for the Hammers. Carroll’s last competitive goal was actually in an England shirt when he nodded in against Sweden.

Carroll made 78 league appearances for Newcastle, scoring 31 goals and could potentially have led the Newcastle forward line for the next ten years. However his sale virtually generated Newcastle’s lofty league position last season, as the money generated allowed Newcastle to recruit stars such as Cabaye and Ba.

Kevin Nolan captained the Newcastle side that included Carroll and provided fans with some great memories in his time on Tyneside, especially under Chris Hughton. Aside from captaining the promotion side he will never be forgotten for his hat trick against fierce rivals Sunderland. Kevin made 85 league appearances for Newcastle scoring 29 goals.

The pair are highlighted as they seem as close on the pitch as they are off it. Nolan feeds from loose balls around the box, often knocked down from a target man striker, namely Carroll when fit and selected. Despite his lack of pace, Nolan should not be underestimated as he does have a keen sense for a goal in and around the box, with his positional sense to be much admired.

Inevitably much focus will be on Big Andy

Aside from the two, West Ham have midfield enforcer Diame now in their ranks who will look to boss the midfield and record signing Matt Jarvis who will be looking to supply some ammunition for forwards where possible.

As typical of a ‘Big Sam’ side, Newcastle can expect to deal with many crosses and long balls fired in to the box, meaning makeshift defensive duo Taylor and Williamson will have to rally in Coloccini’s absence.

What I’d like to see:

Focusing on Newcastle rather than the opposition, I’d first and foremost like to see Ba in the lineup. Without him, remembering Cheick and Colo are out, we will struggle. I can see West Ham getting a goal today, so to win we’ll have to outscore them. Ba is our best striker at present and we desperately need him.

Looking at West Ham we need Taylor and Williamson to be up to scratch, they will need to cut out the long balls and aerially dominate. Luckily, this is the side of Wiliiamson’s game he seems most adept at, so I’m not overly concerned and despite Colo being out, I can’t see us conceding more than one goal.

What I expect to see:

A poor game if I’m honest! Newcastle aren’t playing good football and I expect the game to be much like the West Brom game and even the Aston Villa game. I can see us scoring and then being on the back foot, in a game that isn’t pretty to watch. Lost of long balls, scrappy midfield battles and frustration all round.

I do however have a feeling Cisse will get on the scoresheet today and Ben Arfa is due a good game.

Prediction:

2-1 to Newcastle. Newcastle to lead and look ok, then West Ham to have a second half period of 20 minute dominance. Hopefully we can see it through. Hopefully we score first otherwise I can see us struggling. Ba on song if fit.

Final Note:

Without Colo this is a harder game than first thought, but West Ham are poor on their travels and haven’t won outside of London this season so far. We should have enough quality to get through what is bound to be an awful spectacle.

The three points are more important than the performance for me in this one. Good luck to Mike Williamson especially today who won’t have a quiet afternoon.

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