Newcastle United vs West Ham United Preview: Benitez men search for first win to reduce panic on Tyneside

It's all doom and gloom surrounding St James' Park at the moment, but if Newcastle United can secure their first win of the season against West Ham United on Saturday, the cracks may be plastered over, for now. 

Two weeks ago, Newcastle supporters were eagerly anticipating their Premier League return. But how quickly do things change? Only at Newcastle United, they say.

The lack of funds provided Rafael Benitez from owner Mike Ashley to improve his squad has been telling, in particular, in the weeks defeats to Huddersfield Town and Nottingham Forest

And Benitez has not sugarcoated his anger too. While the disappointment with the lack of quality in the Newcastle ranks deserving to be voiced, the Magpies still have a fight on their hands to avoid relegation, and their fight must begin sometime soon with an under pressure Slaven Bilic brings his Hammers side to the North East. 

Team News

Benitez could welcome back new signing Florian Lejeune into his defence a few weeks ahead of schedule. The 26-year-old left the St James' in a protected boot when they lost to Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day, but is reportedly making a swift recovery. 

Full-backs DeAndre Yedlin and Paul Dummett remain on the sideline and Jonjo Shelvey serves the second game of his three-match ban. 

Former Magpie and Gateshead born Andy Carroll will just miss out following his return to training this week. Winston Reid will also wont feature after he suffered a knock in last week's 3-2 defeat to Southampton. 

Marko Arnautovic is suspended following an incident with Jack Stephens at St Mary's

Embed from Getty Images

Two teams seeking their first victory

Like Newcastle, Bilic's men head into the tie on the back of two opening league defeats. 

West Ham were beaten 4-0 by early-season title favourites Manchester United at Old Trafford on the opening day before suffering a late defeat at Southampton last weekend. 

The Saints were two-nil up and held a man advantage as Arnautovic received his marking orders. However, the Hammers showed grit and determination to level it as summer signing Javier Hernandez' brace put his side level.

But there was still one last twist in the tale as a late penalty was awarded against West Ham, allowing Charlie Austin to slot home a late winner from the spot. 

The Hammers probably enter St James' Park in better shape than their opponents, with a lot of positive to take despite defeat at St Mary's, and also carrying some midweek momentum from their Carabao Cup win against Cheltenham Town. 

With the unhappy feeling creeping back in at Newcastle, a match on home turf for the Magpies might just come at the wrong time. 

Previous meeting - A player who won't feature in Saturday's game steals the show

When United last hosted the Hammers, the Geordie-faithful were left talking about the performance of debutant Shelvey as the Toon ran out 2-1 winners. 

Shelvey was involved in both of the Newcastle's first-half goals - largely remembered for his stunning cross-field ball over to Daryl Janmaat, who took it in his stride and laid it on a plate for Georginio Wijnaldum

Nikica Jelavic responded in the second-half for the away side but it wasn't enough to earn any points. 

Likely line up - Benitez perhaps pondering one change 

Benitez made a total of 10 changes for the Carabao Cup exit in midweek, suggesting that an unchanged starting 11 from the side that lost to Huddersfield may be on the cards. 

The only change Benitez might make is handing Joselu his first United start after he gave the Terriers defenders something to think about when he came as a substitute last weekend. Benitez favours a 4-2-3-1 formation - lone striker Dwight Gayle has struggled to offer a physical presence in his two previous starts. 

However, with something clearly needing to change, Benitez might opt to drop Ayoze Perez and play Gayle and Joselu as a front two.

Likely XI (4-2-31): Rob Elliot; Javier Manquillo, Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark, Chancel Mbemba, Isaac Hayden, Mikel Merino, Matt Ritchie, Perez, Christian Atsu, Gayle.