Newcastle must secure their first league victory since late February at home to West Ham on Sunday if they are to remain in the Premier League without relying on results elsewhere (15:00 BST, live on Sky Sports 3).
Newcastle come into the most important game of their season on the back of a terrible run of nine defeats, one draw and no victories in their last 10 league matches. They sit 17th in the Premier League with 36 points from nine wins, nine draws and 19 defeats.
John Carver’s side lost 2-1 away to already relegated Queens Park Rangers last weekend. They took the lead on the half-hour through Emmanuel Riviere’s first Premier League goal in 22 appearances and created the better chances of the match thereafter. However, they still succumbed to defeat after conceding twice in a six-minute spell early into the second half.
That loss leaves Carver’s side precariously positioned coming into the decisive weekend of the season. They are just two points clear of Hull, with a goal difference that is seven goals worse than that of the current occupants of the final relegation place. A draw on Sunday would see them relegated if Hull were able to defeat Manchester United on home soil.
Even a point may be beyond a side who have picked up just 0.56 points per match since Carver took over from Alan Pardew at the turn of the year. At that stage, Newcastle looked on course for a mid-table finish but a terrible defensive record combined with a largely misfiring strike force has left them scrambling to avoid relegation on the final day of the season.
Carver is without the injured Adam Armstrong (thigh), Chiekh Tiote (knee), Jak Alnwick (wrist), Massadio Haidara (knee), Siem de Jong (thigh) and Steven Taylor (achilles) for this match, while Vurnon Anita (knock) is doubtful.
West Ham travel north after dropping out of the Premier League’s top 10 following a run of four defeats and just two victories in their last eight matches. They are 11th in the table with 47 points from 12 wins, 11 draws and 14 defeats.
Sam Allardyce’s (pictured) side lost at home to Everton last weekend. They took the lead through Stewart Downing just past the hour mark but were quickly pegged back and then conceded in second-half stoppage time to go down to a 2-1 defeat. Their visitors played the game’s better football and were good value for their win despite the lateness of the decisive goal.
That result allowed Everton to jump ahead of the Hammers into 10th and saw Allardyce’s side continue their descent down the table from the top-four position they briefly occupied around Christimas time. Their New Year slump has not been quite as dramatic as that of their hosts on Sunday, but they have still picked up just 0.89 points per match during 2015.
Allardyce’s contract expires this summer and the reaction of the Boleyn Ground faithful at the final whistle on Saturday suggested that most of them would be happy to see him leave. His largely functional brand of football has seen the Hammers to promotion and three consecutive mid-table finishes, but he has nevertheless made few friends in East London.
Allardyce will be without the injured Andy Carroll (knee), Diafra Sakho (thigh), Guy Demel (calf) and James Tomkins (shoulder), while James Collins (muscle) and Kevin Nolan (personal issues) are both doubtful.
Newcastle v West Ham Betting Tips
West Ham won 1-0 when these sides met at the Boleyn Ground in November, while last season’s games saw a 0-0 draw at St James’ Park and a 3-1 away win for Newcastle in East London. The last six meetings at Newcastle’s home have yielded two wins for Newcastle and one for West Ham. The teams have shared two wins apiece in the last six at all venues.
Newcastle could yet pay a huge price for their lack of ambition in the aftermath of Pardew’s departure to Crystal Palace at the turn of the year. Carver must somehow rouse his players for one big performance on Sunday in order to obtain the three points that would guarantee his side’s safety regardless of Hull’s result at home to Manchester United.
Allardyce endured a difficult and short-lived spell as Newcastle coach back in the 2007-08 season and as an ex-Sunderland player would revel in the opportunity to push the Magpies towards relegation. His side have failed to win any of their last 11 Premier League away matches but should be capable of frustrating their hosts and taking at least a point.
- Back West Ham +0.5 on the Asian Handicap @ best odds of 17/14 with BetVictor.
- There have been two 1-0 victories and two 0-0 draws across the last five league meetings between these sides, while six of West Ham’s last eight league matches have seen two or fewer goals. We expect this match to be a tense and tight affair, with few goals on show. Back under 2.5 goals @ 13/10 with Betfair Sportsbook or BetVictor.