Hammers must take advantage of Newcastle hardships
West Ham take on Newcastle United in the Saturday evening Premier League match with three points absolutely vital.
THINGS have not been easy for Newcastle United in the last couple of weeks.
First, Hatem Ben Arfa, who has been a revelation since his loan arrival from Marseille, had his leg broken by Nigel de Jong of Manchester City.
Then, over the weekend, striker Andy Carroll was arrested for an alleged assault and told he had to go and live with team-mate Kevin Nolan.
It is hardly perfect preparation for the Saturday evening clash at Upton Park, though Chris Hughton is likely to come and attack the Hammers with Carroll – if he is allowed to play – being partnered by either Peter Lovenkrands, or the in-form Shola Ameobi, who like Carroll, has four goals to his name already.
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Newcastle have already won on their travels this season, returning from Goodison Park with a 1-0 win over Everton, while their superb 4-3 victory at Stamford Bridge in the Carling Cup has given them a clash with Arsenal in the next round.
They have lost only two games on their travels this term, going down at Manchester United and Manchester City.
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Hughton kept his chequebook in his pocket during the summer, with Dan Gosling and Sol Campbell arriving on frees and Cheik Ismael Tiote signing from FC Twente in Holland – none of them have made a real impression.
Joey Barton is the heart of this Newcastle team and the former West Ham target will be the one to watch, alongside Nolan, who is likely to return from injury and Carroll babysitting duties, and likes nothing more than scoring against the Hammers.
The last time these two met at Upton Park was in 2008 for Gianfranco Zola’s first home game in charge.
The Geordies were awful that day as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat and every West Ham fan got the wrong impression that David Di Michele was a good player as he grabbed two of the goals.
Newcastle last won in east London back in 2006 when goals from Damien Duff and Obafemi Martens were enough for a 2-0 victory, but everything seems to be pointing towards a home victory this weekend.
The Toon sit just two points and four places above West Ham going into the match and Avram Grant will be hoping that at the end of this one, they will have leapfrogged them.
They just might, but they will need to start better than they did against Wolves. Playing catch-up is not West Ham’s strong point.
Possible team: Krul, Williamson, Perch, Enrique, Coloccini, Barton, Gutierrez, Nolan, Routledge, Carroll, Lovenkrands.
West Ham 3 Newcastle 1