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EPL: Newcastle face Hammer’s test

first_imgNewcastle vs. West Ham Venue: St. James’ Park Kick off 2:15PMWest Ham United will be attempting to build on their much-needed victory over Chelsea when they visit Newcastle United at St James’ Park this afternoon. The Hammers eased their relegation fears with the surprise derby triumph, but they remain in the mix at the bottom of the table whereas Newcastle have now surpassed the 40-point mark.Certain matches and results can often prove to be turning points in a club’s season, and West Ham will certainly be hoping that action-packed 3-2 win against an in-form Chelsea side is one of those.The Hammers went into the game on the back of three successive defeats without even scoring, yet they overcame a widely-criticised VAR decision to come from behind and pick up what could be a priceless three points at an empty London Stadium.Quite how important they are remains to be seen, but at the very least it gives them some breathing space with those three points now separating them from the relegation zone.Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Watford are all in poor form too, whereas David Moyes’s side are entering a run of fixtures that they will consider winnable – Newcastle, Burnley, Norwich City and Watford in succession. That said, they have not won back-to-back league games since August, have not kept a clean sheet in 12 outings since New Year’s Day and their away form is truly abysmal – seven successive away defeats in what is their worst run since 2006.The Hammers have also thrown away a league-high 22 points from winning positions this season, and if you were to add those to their tally then they would be in Champions League contention, level on points with Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, rather than battling against relegation.Many parallels can be drawn between West Ham and Newcastle in terms of the demands from passionate fan bases, often of underperforming teams, but this season Newcastle have been better than most fans expected under Steve Bruce.Even so, the Magpies now seem to be playing with a freedom which was lacking when fans were in the stadium; before lockdown they had averaged just 0.9 goals per game in the Premier League, whereas since the return they have netted eight league goals at an average of 2.7 per match.Half of those goals came in Wednesday’s 4-1 win at relegation-threatened Bournemouth – a result which lifted Newcastle past the 40-point mark with six games to spare this season. Bruce’s side now need only one more win to equal their points tally from last season under Rafael Benitez, and with matches against three of the bottom six to come they will be confident of surpassing that.Newcastle head into Sunday’s match unbeaten in their last five Premier League games – their best run since 2015-16 – while they have not been beaten at home in the top flight since New Year’s Day.Indeed, they have only conceded once in their last five home league outings, and only Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United have conceded fewer on their own patch throughout the entire season.Newcastle possible XI: Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Fernandez, Rose, Shelvey, Hayden, Saint-Maximin, Almiron, Ritchie, Gayle. West Ham possible XI: Fabianski, Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Soucek, Bowen, Lanzini, Yarmolenko, Antonio.RelatedPosts Ighalo: My best moment as ‘Red Devil’ EPL: Newcastle set to extend winning streak EPL: Gunners gun for West Ham scalp Tags: Newcastle UnitedPremier LeagueSt james’ ParkWest Ham Unitedlast_img read more