It’s not been a good start to the season for Rafa Benitez and Newcastle it is almost as if the club is still stuck in EFL Championship mode and has forgotten that is has been promoted to the Premier League. The Magpies are without a point or a goal to their name so far and will be desperately looking to get off the mark today.
Life however is not anymore rosy for their opponents this afternoon as West Ham themselves have suffered successive Premier League defeats in the opening fortnight of the season. They have however found the net though thanks to new signing Javier Hernandez.
After a poor start to the season in regards to league form, Newcastle would have hoped that the Carabao Cup would have at least offered some brief respite in midweek. Unfortunately though that would not be the case as they were dumped at home by Mark Warburton’s Nottingham Forest.
West Ham on the other hand can at least be grateful that they advanced to the third round of the competition after travelling to Cheltenham and avoiding that potential banana skin with a 2-0 win, with goals coming from Diafra Sahko and Andre Ayew.
That win would have lifted the early season on pressure on Slaven Bilic while conversely Newcastle’s defeat to Nottingham Forest would have darkened the mood on Tyneside with Rafa Benitez needing to find a win and arguably needing to find it today.
They offered very little against Huddersfield last Sunday and their defensive performance would have been of great concern to the former Liverpool and Valencia manager. In fairness it was a patched up back line due to injuries to Paul Dummett and Florian Lejuene but at the same time and no disrespect to any Huddersfield fans, it was not the toughest of opponents to go up against.
The Hammers will look to bounce back after being edge out by Southampton last Saturday. A point looked likely towards the end, although it was a point that they had no real right to earn as they came back from 2-0 down to almost grab a share of proceedings.
That would have been impressive enough away from home but it would have been an even bigger achievement after Marko Arnautovic was sent off in the first half. With the East London outfit a man short, Mexican international Javier Hernandez looked like he had dug them out of an almighty hole with his first two goals for the club.
Only it was not meant to be as Southampton were awarded their second penalty of the game in injury time and Charlie Austin duly obliged by sending Joe Hart the wrong way and leave West Ham to return home from Hampshire in the cruelest of circumstances.
Slaven Bilic will however be able to take positives from that defeat, especially with Hernandez getting off the mark. That is exactly the job that he has been installed to after signing from Bayer Leverkusen and after an inauspicious debut against Manchester United, he looks comfortable on old soil.
He will be required this afternoon to find the net once again as both his current employers and Newcastle look to get off the mark. St James’ Park needs to see a performance of note today, that said I think both teams will cancel each other out and it will be a draw.
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— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) August 25, 2017