The Warm Down: Magpies earn precious point against West Ham United
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 19: Joe Willock of Newcastle United (28) celebrates after scoring the equalising goal during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Newcastle United at London Stadium on February 19, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Newcastle United extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to six matches after they battled to a 1-1 draw against West Ham United at the London Stadium

Eddie Howe’s men made the brighter start but went behind just after the half-hour mark as Craig Dawson evaded his marker and headed home Aaron Creswell’s free-kick.

But, The Magpies deservedly equalised in first half stoppage-time when Joe Willock capitalised on a poor headed clearance by Declan Rice and delivered a fine finish off the inside of the post as goal-line technology confirmed that the ball had crossed the line.

The second half was a largely scrappy affair with clear-cut chances at a premium and both sides had to settle with a hard-fought point in east London, but it’s Newcastle who will undoubtedly be more satisfied with the result, who remain unbeaten in the top-flight in 2022. 

West Ham’s Champions League aspirations took a major blow after they missed the opportunity to climb into the top four and there’s several sides below them, including Arsenal and Tottenham, who have quite a few games in hand on David Moyes’ side, while Newcastle secured an important point at the other end of the table to remain above the bottom three.

Embed from Getty Images

  • No Trippier or Saint-Maximin… no problem for Newcastle 

Following Kieran Trippier’s foot injury which he sustained in last weekend’s win over Aston Villa, The Magpies were dealt another gut-wrenching update prior to the team sheets being announced with the absence of Allan Saint-Maximin from the match day squad, also due to injury. 

With two of their star players unavailable, Howe made three changes as Emil Krafth and Jacob Murphy replaced the injured duo, while in more positive news, Matt Targett returned to the starting line-up for Javier Manquillo

But, even without Trippier’s leadership and Saint-Maximin’s fancy footwork, Newcastle showed togetherness and no fear against a side who are fifth in the Premier League and were on the front foot from the very first minute. 

The in-form Jarred Bowen, who has been directly involved in eight of The Hammers last 10 goals in all competitions, struggled to worry the visitors’ defence, largely due to an impressive display from Targett and he only tested Martin Dubravka twice in the first half.

Aside from West Ham’s goal when Krafth gave away a cheap free-kick for a foul on Michail Antonio which led to a lapse in concentration for Dawson’s free header on 32 minutes, Howe’s black-and-whites produced a good performance and enjoyed more possession (53%) than their claret and blue opposition. 

If Newcastle had been slightly more adventurous with the ball going forward after the interval, they would have been well worthy of taking all three points back to the North East

Embed from Getty Images

  • Willock’s back to his best

In his 20th Premier League appearance of the campaign, Willock finally ended his goal-drought and struck for the first time this season since he made his permanent move from The Gunners in the summer and it was richly deserved. 

A rare mistake from Rice, who failed to clear Ryan Fraser’s left-footed cross, set up a glorious chance for Willock and he finished with perfection as his hooked effort hit against the far post and narrowly went over the line despite a valiant effort from Lukazs Fabianski

In truth, his recent performances have been to an almost identical standard of when he joined the club on loan from Arsenal last season where he scored in seven successive games, but this display was his best yet under Howe. 

The 22-year-old produced a man of the match performance in the capital and West Ham couldn’t deal with him. 

The same could also be said for Jonjo Shelvey and Joelinton who have also been excellent in midfield recently, and it’s clear to see why new signing Bruno Guimaraes has made all three of his appearances as a substitute as the trio are currently undroppable. 

Embed from Getty Images

  • Magpies in high spirits 

Newcastle look a totally different side since the opening day defeat to West Ham at St James’ Park and it’s evident to see the impact Howe has made in just three months as head coach. 

In their last six top-flight matches, The Magpies have accumulated 12 points which has seen them climb to sixth in the current form table with three wins and draws apiece, while in contrast in their opening 18 matches, they gathered just 10 points.

Despite the complications of it being an early Saturday afternoon kick-off, a 570 mile-round trip from Newcastle, as well as the horrendous damage that Storm Eunice has inflicted across the country, it didn’t stop the 3,000 travelling supporters in making the journey to the London Stadium as it was another sold out away end. 

The Toon Army faithful were, as always, in fine form throughout the match in the pouring rain and were delighted to see Newcastle continue their sensational run where they’ve not lost in the top-flight since 19 December.