November 27, 2014

West Ham United turned in one of their best performances of the campaign prior to the international break and hope to keep that momentum flowing on Monday against Newcastle United at Upton Park.

Slaven Bilic's side were surprisingly dominant against Liverpool last time out at Anfield - a place they had not claimed victory since 1963. Manuel Lanzini put the visitors ahead after just three minutes thanks to slack defending from Liverpool, and West Ham doubled their lead in the 29th minute through Mark Noble before Diafra Sakho added a third in stoppage time.

West Ham (2-0-2) will have to continue their fine start to the campaign in the final third if they hope to collect all three points in front of their east London crowd. The Hammers have netted nine goals in their opening four matches, including three in each of their last two fixtures. Only Manchester City (11) have scored more.

Despite their victory at Liverpool, the Hammers have been poor in possession early in the season, completing a league-low 76 percent of their passes. The secret to success has been getting off to a quick start as the club has scored a league-high three goals inside the opening 10 minutes.

It will also be crucial for Bilic to quickly assess where his new signings fit into the team. West Ham had a busy final day of the transfer window, signing Alex Song and Victor Moses on loan from Barcelona and Chelsea, respectively, while also adding Italian centre-back Angelo Ogbonna from Juventus, Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic and English winger Michael Antonio.

"Very pleased. It's all on paper of course, and now the guys who have come have to prove themselves and all that," Bilic said. "But I think we did really well, we got what we wanted and the first week of training has been really positive. I think they are going to do really well for us, because they have quality, they have the energy and are very motivated. They have joined a team that is already good and they have come here to give us extra quality."

Newcastle United put in a decent performance against Arsenal prior to the international break, but suffered a 1-0 defeat thanks to an own goal off the boot of defender Fabricio Coloccini seven minutes into the second half.

The Magpies (0-2-2) have not been able to generate much in the way of attacking chances as the club has been held off the scoresheet in each of their last three contests and have attempted only 21 shots, 12 fewer than any other squad.

The Tyneside club has also had a horrid time of it on their travels, going 0-2-7 since a 3-0 win at Hull City on Jan. 31. Newcastle have yet to score in their two road matches this season, putting just two shots on target.

Despite the away struggles, manager Steve McClaren believes the results will come.

"We can feel it within the club. We feel we're slowly establishing a platform and hopefully we can start to show what we are all about," said the Newcastle manager. "It's been a tough start, but there has been enough evidence in the first four games to suggest we're a team that will be difficult to play against."

Both teams won their home meetings against each other last season, with the Hammers recording a 1-0 win at Upton Park in November. The Magpies won 2-0 at St. James' Park on the last day of the season in May, securing their survival.

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