West Ham United brings the opening day of the 2020-21 Premier League season to a conclusion as they welcome Newcastle United to London Stadium in the closing match of Saturday Night Football.
Having just survived relegation last season, West Ham will be looking to get their campaign off to a positive start as they take on Newcastle, with Steve Bruce’s Magpies looking to mount a top ten challenge after narrowly missing out last campaign.
Tomas Soucek is available for West Ham despite being forced to self-isolate after coming into contact with a masseur who tested positive for Coronavirus, whilst he was away on international duty with Czech Republic in the past fortnight.
Manuel Lanzini meanwhile is a doubt with a thigh injury
Newcastle will be without Martin Dubravka in goal after the Slovakian suffered a heel injury whilst out running as part of his individual training programme during the Magpies’ summer break.
Fabian Schar (shoulder), Ciaran Clark (ankle), Paul Dummett (hamstring) Matthew Longstaff (Quadriceps) and Dwight Gayle (knee) are definitely also absent, whilst Matt Ritchie (calf) and Jonjo Shelvey (knee) face late fitness tests alongside summer signing, Ryan Fraser (fitness).
- West Ham are unbeaten in three of their last five league meetings against Newcastle United (W2, D1, L2)
- Newcastle have won two of their last three trips (W2, L1), with both victories coming via 3-2 results in the Magpies’ favour.
- The Hammers have scored twice in each of their last four home games against Newcastle (W2, L2).
- Newcastle haven’t won any of their last seven opening league games in a new season (L6, D1).
- West Ham are winless in their last four opening league games of a new campaign (L4), scoring once and conceding 15 goals across their opening matches in last four seasons.
Given the dire opening weekend of new season form of both teams, I am expecting this game to either be an entertaining encounter or a dull clash between two sides who haven’t exactly begun recent seasons well.
West Ham haven’t however exactly improved their squad whereas the Magpies have brought in reinforcement across the pitch with Jeff Hendrick, Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson amongst new signings, which could well make the difference given the inconsistency amongst their main strike force last season of Joelinton, Gayle and Yoshinori Muto who contributed just eight of Newcastle’s 38 league goals.
I am therefore expecting Fraser and Wilson to add that extra quality and if Steve Bruce nails his tactics to maximise their attacking quality with proper service from midfield, there is no reason why Newcastle shouldn’t come away with a win even if it isn’t a third five goal thriller victory in East London.
Prediction: West Ham 1-2 Newcastle United
Result: West Ham 0-2 Newcastle United