By 90Min
December 22, 2017

West Ham go up against Newcastle United for their pre-Christmas encounter on Saturday. It has been somewhat of a reversal of fortunes for the two teams in recent weeks. From flying high in the top half of the Premier League table in their first season back, Newcastle are now 18th with just a point from their last eight league matches. 

Meanwhile, West Ham after struggling at the bottom of the table have found some much needed form under new manager David Moyes. The Hammers have two wins from their last three, helping them to climb out of the relegation places. 

With plenty to play for before Christmas, here are how Newcastle and West Ham are shaping up heading into this clash...


Classic Encounter

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Historically, Newcastle come off the better of the two teams in recent years. The Magpies have lost three of their last 12 meetings with West Ham. Considering the kind of form Newcastle are currently in, their fans can merely reminisce over the last time they gave their Premier League rival a proper beating, like the time they put five past West Ham in January 2011. 

Leon Best, in his first Premier League start for Newcastle, scored a hat-trick to help crush the Hammers. Two more goals from Kevin Nolan and Peter Lovenkrands piled on the misery for West Ham and under pressure manager Avram Grant. 

It was Joey Barton who pulled all the strings on the night. He created three of Newcastle's five goals in what must have been one his finest appearances in a Newcastle shirt. Alan Pardew's Newcastle moved into eighth in the Premier League table. Meanwhile Avram Grant's West Ham languished at the bottom. 


Key Battle

Marko Arnautovic vs Jamaal Lascelles

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From villain to hero, Marko Arnautovic has certainly turned a corner at his new club West Ham. From failing to score and receiving a red card early in the season, the Austrian now has two goals in his last three league games. 

Arnautovic's form has been instrumental to West Ham's comeback under Moyes, as has midfielder Manuel Lanzini. But with the Argentine play-maker suspended for this game, Arnautovic will have to step up to help make up for the big absence in West Ham's lineup. 

Newcastle defender Jamaal Lascelles will have the difficult task of trying to keep the inform Arnautovic quiet on Saturday. The Mapgies have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last nine league matches. Lascelles will indeed have his work cut out on the day. 


Team News

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West Ham will be without key man Manuel Lanzini on Saturday after the play-maker was handed a two match suspension for diving in the Hammer's last league match against Stoke City. Meanwhile Andy Carroll could return to face his old club if he passes a late fitness test. 

Captain Mark Noble was forced off in the first half against Stoke with a hamstring complaint. He will be a doubt for Saturday's tie. Jose Fonte, Sam Byram and Edmilson Fernandes also remain on the sidelines for West Ham. 

Newcastle will also have a player suspended for Saturday's game as Jonjo Shelvey picked up two yellow cards against Everton earlier this month. Otherwise, the Magpies have no fresh injury problems and can expect everyone else to be available for Saturday.


Potential West Ham Starting Lineup: Adrian; Ogbonna, Reid, Cresswell; Zabaleta, Kouyate, Obiang, Masuaku; Ayew; Antonio, Arnautovic


Potential Newcastle Starting Lineup: Elliot; Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Manquillo; Ritchie, Merino, Hayden, Murphy; Joselu, Gayle


Prediction

Matthew Lewis/GettyImages

All the momentum will be with West Ham going into this fixture. The Hammers will try to make it four straight games without a loss on Saturday. 

Meanwhile, pressure will be beginning to mount on Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez to turn Newcastle's season around. If results go against them, Newcastle could find themselves bottom of the Premier League table by Christmas.

History is on Newcastle's side in this fixture, and with the pressure of a relegation battle mounting, they will be desperate to get some sort of result here. Newcastle could give West Ham a tough game. 

Prediction: West Ham 1-1 Newcastle United

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