NEWCASTLE welcome West Ham to Tyneside on Super Sunday. James Cantrill (@) shares his thoughts on the St James' Park showdown.
Newcastle vs West Ham | Sunday 5th July 2020, 14:15 | Sky Sports
Both sides come into this clash on the back of equally impressive midweek victories.
Newcastle ran riot in Bournemouth, winning 4-1 and doubling their post resumption goals tally, whilst West Ham completed their first league double over Chelsea since 2002. The last time the Hammers achieved a derby double, Paolo Di Canio scored at a ground that no longer exists against a Blues side that featured current manager Frank Lampard.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this will be a game void of quality given the agricultural approach both Steve Bruce and David Moyes often opt to deploy. However, this will not be the case as the sides feature the likes of; Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron, Nabil Bentaleb, Jarrod Bowen, Declan Rice and Manuel Lanzini.
I particularly think there’s a bit of an irony with the way Newcastle play given the cornucopia of attacking options Bruce has at his disposal, however, I think it is a testament to the quality of the league and you cannot underestimate just how good of a job he’s done for his boyhood club this season.
Newcastle's only potential enforced change would come as a consequence of the injury Shaun Longstaff sustained in the first half against the Cherries. If he’s unfit to play, I’d expect Almiron to come in.
The Hammers don’t have any fresh injuries to content with, but Sebastian Haller and Mark Noble remain doubts so I’d expect them to name the same squad they fielded midweek.
The betting angles
Since joining the Magpies on-loan from Schalke in January, Bentaleb has made six appearance, averaging two tackles per-game. Three tackles has landed in 75% of his Premier League starts. More noticeably, he completed five tackles in his most recent appearance versus Bournemouth.
The spike is probably a direct consequence of the deeper role he was delegated, playing as a defensive midfielder instead of the central midfield position he’s previously played.
Newcastle have averaged 15.7 tackles per-game this season and West Ham have averaged 18.7 – both sides featured in midweek games that had north of 30 completed tackles. Of the 16 tackles Newcastle completed in their last game, 44% were made by their central defensive midfield partnership of Bentaleb and Jonjoe Shelvey, with the Algerian responsible for 31.15%.
Equally impressive is the fact that 50% of West Hams’s tackles were completed by their central defensive midfield pair of Rice and Tomas Soucek. All of the above points to the likelihood of a scrappy, congested, well-contested battle in the centre of the park on Sunday and hopefully, Bentaleb will be at the heart of this.