Newcastle have a trip to the Olympic Stadium to face West Ham for their opening game of the new Premier League season. The Magpies ended last season in 13th, four points ahead of West Ham in 16th. Will either make a winning start to the 2020/21 season?
David Moyes’ West Ham finished five points clear of relegation with an unbeaten run of eight points from the last four games extinguishing any fears of relegation. The Hammers defeated relegated Norwich City and Watford before signing off with 1-1 draws against Manchester United and Aston Villa. Three pre-season wins over Ipswich Town (4-1), Wycombe Wanderers (5-1) and Brentford (2-1) were followed by a 5-3 loss to Bournemouth. West Ham have signed midfielder Tomas Soucek on a permanent deal after his successful loan spell last season. The departures include Albian Ajeti to Celtic, Jordan Hugill to Norwich and Grady Diangana to West Brom, as well as out of contract Carlos Sanchez, Pablo Zabaleta, Roberto and Jeremy Ngakia. Soucek is in quarantine and unable to play, while Manuel Lanzini is a doubt with a thigh injury.
Newcastle ended the Premier League season with just one win in their last eight Premier League games, and just two since the restart. Steve Bruce’s side lost four of their final five matches. Pre-season has been a mixed bag with wins over Crewe (3-0) and Barnsley (2-1) followed by a 5-1 thumping by north east rivals Middlesbrough and a 1-0 loss to Stoke City. Bruce has strengthed his attacking options with the capture of Callum Wilson and his former Bournemouth team-mate Ryan Fraser. He has also brought in Jeff Hendrick on a free transfer from Burnley and splashed out on Norwich full-back Jamal Lewis. Jack Colback and Rob Elliot have left at the end of their contracts and goalkeeper Freddie Woodman has been sent out on loan to Swansea for the season. The Magpies may not risk Fraser due to a lack of match fitness, while a late decision will be made on Matty Longstaff. But goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, defenders Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett and Fabian Schar and striker Dwight Gayle are all injured.
Both games between these sides last season were entertaining affairs with Newcastle winning 3-2 at West Ham before a 2-2 draw in Newcastle. The Magpies have the slight edge since 2014, winning 6 of the 11 head to heads. There wasn’t a lot to split these two sides in both games last year, or over the course of the season. An opening day stalemate is the value.
PREDICTION : DRAW 1-1
ACCUMULATOR TIP : OVER 1.5 FT GOALS