West Ham United continued where they had left off last season with a terrific win against a challenging Newcastle United team. After an impressive pre-season for David Moyes' men and without a single permanent signing, The Hammers fans appeared divided about what the outcome of the game would be.
Playing at St. James Park has always proved problematic for West Ham, as the visitors have only proven victorious 3 times since 2000. The Magpies also have the strikeforce services of Callum Wilson, who's impressive scoring record against West Ham tends to be particularly worrying for Hammers fans. In the 10 appearances he had made against West Ham, he has scored 8 times - more than any other team he has faced.
The visitors struggled to find form in the first half of the game - losing 2-1 at 45 minutes. After reflecting on the first half, Moyes spoke to whufc.com:
"I wasn’t happy going in at half-time 2-1 down because I felt we had made a poor mistake for the first and second goal as well, so I hope we can improve on that.
"We were unlucky not to score from two corners and we didn’t quite get on the end of them, so there were a lot of things to be pleased about, but there were also things we need to improve upon.
"We need to be more ruthless and work harder not to concede, but overall it was a great performance today, the players played really well and I hope we can keep it going."
Moyes also spoke on the clubs current transfer situation:
"We want to continue because we can see we’ve got something to build on and that’s what we’ll look to try and do.
"We know we’re going to need more players so we’re not kidding on, but if the team play like that every week, like today we didn’t need to make any substitutions until late in the game, more because I didn’t want to upset the rhythm and the way we were playing.
"But we will need more players because at the end Declan was getting cramp and Saïd had taken a knock a bit earlier, so we’ve got to try and make sure we do it right if we can, but I have to say we played really well today."
Hammers attackers well on form
Continuing on from their spectacular pre-season, Michail Antonio, Jarrod Bowen, Said Benrahma, Pablo Fornals became an unplayable quadruple against The Magpies. Pre-season clearly allowed for a stronger connection amongst the four, as they consistently found each other in great attacking positions. With goals coming from two of the aforementioned players, Benrahma and Antonio, the others came from defender Aaron Cresswell, and midfielder Tomas Soucek. Despite Czech-native Soucek missing the majority of pre-season due to competing in the Euro 2020 competition, he appeared to settle straight back into domestic duties, smashing in the rebound of Antonio's blocked penalty.
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Bowen, despite being linked to Liverpool recently, also proved his worth, and was unlucky to come away from the game without his name on the scoresheet. At 23 minutes, he picked up the ball around the half way line, and drove into the box - his fast footwork taking out players as he came. His shot was saved, but the confidence he played with was unmatched.
Additions to the squad remain necessary
Although a fantastic win for the Hammers, the squad must bring in some new faces. Declan Rice had to be excused due to cramp, and Benrahma was clearly carrying a knock towards the end of the game. West Ham currently lack the squad depth of a team heading into a European competition, so additions are still vital.
A centre-back must be prioritised, as the Hammers defence was very shakey throughout the game. Angelo Ogbonna was lucky to be deemed fit for the match, and Craig Dawson only showed glimpses of his quality from last year. A striker must also be secured by the transfer deadline, as Antonio (although a fantastic forward player) is being relied on to stay fit. Over the years, he has had great trouble with his hamstring, and currently, is the only senior striker in the team.
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"Micky is our main main. Yarma can play up front, Bowen can play up front but the manager and the chairman are busy in the transfer market and are trying to get the right person through the door. We aren't finished this week in the transfer market"
A word on the opposition
A team with similar issues to us, (board, transfers, etc.), Newcastle gave a great display on Sunday. Allan Saint-Maximin is unbeatable when he recieves the ball, and alongside Wilson, are The Toon's biggest threat going forward. Furthermore, the Premier League debutant Freddie Woodman had a great game in goal for the opposition, saving a one-on-one against Bowen, and a penalty strike from West Ham's joint-leading Premier League goalscorer, Michail Antonio.
Throughout the game, they near-enough matched the Hammers on possession, finishing the game with a percentage of 46.4%. The Magpies had more interceptions (9), and more corners (7), highlighting how equal the majority of the game was.
St James Park fully opened its doors to both home and away supporters for the first time in around 18 months, and welcomed 50,673 fans into the ground. The noise around the stadium was electric through both fans chants, and was a pleasure to hear a season of silence.