WhoScored.com and whufc.com have teamed up to take an in-depth look at Sunday's season finale at Newcastle United
West Ham UnitedWest Ham United have teamed up with football stats website WhoScored.com for the final time this season to preview the upcoming Barclays Premier League meeting with Newcastle United.
The Magpies need to secure victory to guarantee their place in the Premier League next season, with John Carver’s side sitting 17th coming into the final round of fixtures. Newcastle are currently on the longest winless run in England’s top-tier (ten games), which the Hammers could add to in Sunday’s meeting at St James’ Park.
Newcastle could well come flying out of the blocks to try net early on against West Ham, meaning the east London side need to be ready for what is to come from the off. One of those who could be tasked with stemming the flow is midfielder Alex Song.
The weekend meeting with the Magpies will be Song’s final game of his season-long loan spell from Barcelona, so he will be keen to end his time with the Hammers with a win. The Cameroonian has a key role to play to ensure victory is attained on Tyneside.
Song has developed a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘tackling’, having made more (87) than any other West Ham player this season. This strength should help limit the offensive influence of the likes of Moussa Sissoko and Rémy Cabella.
Furthermore, a WhoScored.com strength of ‘passing’ suggests Song performs the role of the holding midfielder with aplomb. Despite playing just 27 of West Ham’s 37 league matches, Song has made 1,156 passes – good enough for fourth in the squad behind Stewart Downing (1,409), Mark Noble (1,375) and Aaron Cresswell (1,303).
The Hammers will look to end the season on a high and the 27-year-old has what it takes to disrupt Newcastle’s rhythm, in the process increasing the likelihood of West Ham coming away from Tyneside with maximum points.
No team has conceded more goals at home in the Premier League this season than Newcastle (27), and with Song at the hub of the midfield, this number could rise at the weekend. With the midfielder’s abilities to find a teammate and win the ball from the opposition, the Cameroon star has the all-round game to make a real impact on this vital game.
*WhoScored.com is a website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Follow @WhoScored on Twitter.
Newcastle UnitedThe possible starting XI
Janmaat Coloccini Dummett Gutierrez
Perez Sissoko Colback Cabella
Janmaat Coloccini Dummett Gutierrez
Perez Sissoko Colback Cabella
Guessing how Newcastle United might line up on Sunday is a mystery, with the relegation-threatened Magpies going into the game desperate to end a run of ten games without a Barclays Premier League victory.
John Carver’s side have stumbled from one defeat to the next in recent weeks, plunging down the table to the point where they need to beat West Ham United to ensure their top-flight survival.
Last weekend, Newcastle were beaten 2-1 at relegated Queens Park Rangers. There, Carver opted for a 4-5-1 formation, but surely the Geordie boss will go on the front foot as his team seek the win they need to stay up?
If Carver does roll the dice, he could utilise a 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1 system, or even gamble by playing with two central strikers for the first time in many weeks.
In truth, it is almost impossible to predict how Newcastle will play formation-wise, because next to nothing has worked for them in the past two months.
The playing style
Newcastle United have had trouble with their playing style all over the pitch – they don’t convert enough chances, they make too many individual mistakes and they concede too many goals.
Style-wise, defensively Newcastle play with a flat back four and a very high line. Captain Fabricio Coloccini leads the line, bringing his defence out to make the game more compact and catch the opposition offside. However, this leaves space in behind to exploit.
Also, the Magpies’ attacking players have been caught out due to a frailty in their own defensive contribution. As is the case with all teams, you have to defend from the front, but Newcastle have not always done that this season, particularly in recent weeks.
Going forward, Newcastle play with one forward and a midfield that likes to go in support of their frontman. Vurnon Anita will sit deep and keep it simple, Moussa Sissoko can pick the ball up and drive at defenders, while Jack Colback is a combative player who can also pass the ball accurately.
Out wide, Ayoze Perez and Remy Cabella are tricky wingers who can run at and go either side of their full-backs. Both have good feet and provide a goal threat themselves. However, they also have a tendency to cut in from their respective flanks and reduce the amount of width in Newcastle’s attacking play.
Centre forward Emmanuel Riviere has scored just once in 22 league games, but seems to be preferred to leading marksman Papiss Cisse, despite the Senegalese netting eleven times in just ten starts and eleven substitute appearances.
Dutch giant Tim Krul will start in goal. He has had a difficult season behind Newcastle’s ever-changing back four, often having little or no chance to keep the ball out of the net.
At right-back, Krul’s fellow countryman Daryl Janmaat has returned from suspension. He is a combative full-back who can also create with his crossing ability. He has six assists.
At left-back, Argentine Jonas Gutierrez plays his final game for Newcastle after recovering from testicular cancer. The popular South American is a converted winger who tackles strongly and works hard for his team.
Coloccini has struggled for consistency this season and can overplay, while Paul Dummett is a full-back by trade who has been forced to slot in during Mike Williamson’s recent suspension. Long-serving centre-back Steven Taylor has not played since New Year’s Day.
In midfield, another Dutchman will sit deep in Anita, who is quick and mobile. Alongside him, Colback is the heartbeat of the Newcastle side and his performance could go a long way to determining Sunday’s result.
France international Sissoko is also an influential figure, picking up possession and driving forward with the ball at his feet. He is strong, tall and can cause havoc with his presence from set pieces.
Cabella and Ayoze’s influence from wide areas is discussed in the Playing Style section above. Yoan Gouffran and Sammy Ameobi are alternative options.
Up front, goal-shy Riviere could be replaced by Cisse, or Carver could throw a curve ball by naming Dutchman Siem de Jong in his starting XI. Riviere is tall and strong, Cisse is quick, mobile and direct, while the recently-injured De Jong is a technical all-round player, coming deep to link up play, winning headers and finishing well with head and feet.