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West Ham vs Newcastle, Old Defender: Away Preview

The weekend showcases an early basement match-up between 20th place West Ham United and 17th place Newcastle, with both teams looking for their first set of points. Fair to say for West Ham and manager Slaven Bilic, anything less than a victory should be very concerning. Now 0-2 on the season, many are turning on the manager who had promised growth and success after an abysmal previous season. West Ham cannot underestimate Newcastle, however, as being newly promoted they are already fighting for their Premier League lives and to stay up in the early season.

There are some positives for West Ham, primarily that they actually have won a match! In the EFL Cup, a tournament spanning different levels of English football, West Ham notched a victory against Cheltenham, a League 2 team. With goals from Diafra Sakho and Andre Ayew, West Ham cruised to victory. Both goalscorers fancy themselves as strikers, or at the very least center forwards and the goals scored will do wonders for their confidence moving forward. Sakho at the 40th minute turned brilliantly and handcuffed the keeper sending it to the far post. Ayew was sprung by Sakho for his goal three minutes later where he slotted it by the keeper to the far side again. Possession looked good for West Ham but two players stood out above the rest.

This is not a recording, but 18-year-old now center midfielder Declan Rice absolutely cruised through this game looking as natural as ever. He admitted that midfield offers more freedom to participate and control the game over his traditional position of a center back defender. He proved this as he was constantly involved in West Ham distributing the ball upfield and maintaining possession throughout the game. Along side Rice, veteran center back James Collins, the “Ginger Pele,” was an absolute beast throughout the game. Cheltenham was rarely successful cutting inside to attack so they relied on whipping dangerous balls into the box. Collins shined up his hairless head and slickly denied every ball he could get his scalp on. While defending like every West Ham fan knows he is able to. Collins was a menace in the Cheltenham box on set pieces and corner kicks. Always hollering orders at his teammates and throwing the hands of marking defenders off of him, Collins was more of a brute in the box than the colloquial fox in the box most are more familiar with. Man of the match on his birthday, Collins was a force to be reckoned with; Adrian’s clean sheet has a lot to do with his performance.

So how does this result affect the upcoming game against Newcastle? Well if Collins does not feature as a starting back than Bilic will have some serious explaining to do. Not having played against Manchester United or Southampton, Collins has plenty in the tank and has earned a spot. Not to mention Jose Fonte looked lost on the pitch against Southampton, slinging an attacker down with a choke-slam to award a fruitful penalty kick. Collins should establish himself as an immediate threat to take a starting position now and for the future of the season.

Rice garners significantly different though. The impressive teenager has featured in every match this season and could see some time for rest against Newcastle. It would make way for Cheikhou Kouyate to return to the midfield along side captain Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang. It would not be the end of the world if Rice sat, as he has earned a rest. In addition, Bilic would get to see Kouyate’s form after his injury from preseason training.

Another positive for this upcoming game is the return of midfield maestro, Manuel Lanzini. Lanzini picked up an injury in preseason and has been given extra time to recover fully before rejoining the team. His presence will be immediately felt as the number 10 spot behind the striker has been lacking play making, class, and offensive skill in his absence. The focal point of offense for the club, Lanzini will get to link up with Chicharito for the first time since he has joined the team in what could be a mesmerizing tandem.

West Ham needs to ride the wave of positive energy through Newcastle and maintain both possession and pressure on the newly promoted side. The power from the wing that Michail Antonio brings mixed with the skill of Lanzini and finish of Chicharito could culminate in a West Ham win and their first grab at points this season.



Adam Smith
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Adam Smith

West Ham United Writer at The Runner Sports
Proud supporter of the Claret and Blue, West Ham United!
Actively interested in transfer news, match reports, developing story lines, and all things West Ham United!
Adam Smith
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