1 IN-FORM NEWCASTLE
While West Ham United kick-off at St James’ Park seeking to end a run of two Premier League matches without a win, Newcastle United go into Saturday’s game on a three-match winning streak.
Rafa Benitez’s side defeated Watford and AFC Bournemouth at home before scoring an impressive 2-1 victory at Burnley on Monday evening, moving above the Hammers in the table in the process.
Should they collect another three points on Saturday, it would mark Newcastle’s second four-match winning run of 2018, following victories over Southampton, Huddersfield Town, Leicester City and Arsenal in March and April.
2 PELLEGRINI’S NEAR-PERFECT RECORD
Manuel Pellegrini has faced Newcastle United eight times previously as a manager – all during his three-season spell in charge at Manchester City between 2013-16 – and lost just once.
Indeed, City did not let in a single goal in winning the first four meetings – three in the Premier League and one in the EFL Cup – before falling to a surprising 2-0 EFL Cup fourth-round defeat at the Etihad Stadium in October 2014.
Pellegrini bounced back to thrash Newcastle 5-0 and 6-1 in his last two Premier League encounters with the Magpies before drawing 1-1 at St James’ Park in April 2016 – the only time in four attempts he has not ended up on the winning side on Tyneside.
3 THE HAMMERS-SUPPORTING MAGPIE
Jonjo Shelvey may never have played a first-team match for West Ham United, but he was born in Romford into a Claret and Blue family, supported the Hammers and spent time developing his talents at the Academy of Football between the ages of ten and 12.
Shelvey moved on to Charlton Athletic, where he made his senior debut at 16 in October 2008 and became one of the hottest young properties in the country.
After spells at Liverpool and Swansea and making his England debut at 20, the creative midfielder joined Newcastle United in January 2016, producing a Man of the Match-winning performance in a 2-1 win over West Ham on his debut.
Since then, Shelvey has not always found himself in favour, but he could return from injury on Saturday and would no doubt love to get another one over the club he followed as a boy.
4 THE LOCAL HERO
Andy Carroll was born just across the River Tyne from St James’ Park in Gateshead and grew up a keen Newcastle United supporter.
The centre forward joined the Magpies as a schoolboy before debuting in a UEFA Cup tie with Palermo in November 2006.
Carroll scored 33 goals in 91 appearances in Black and White, firing Newcastle to the Championship title in 2009/10, before becoming England’s most-expensive player ever when he joined Liverpool for £35 million in January 2011.
Eighteen months later, the England international moved to West Ham United, initially on loan, before making the move permanent in summer 2013.
The 29-year-old is yet to score in nine appearances against his first club but, now fit again after recovering from an ankle injury, could he make it tenth-time lucky on Saturday?
5 AN UPTURN IN FORTUNE
To say West Ham United have struggled at St James’ Park in recent years is an understatement and a half.
The Hammers have beaten Newcastle United on home turf just once in the last 20 years – a 1-0 victory courtesy of former Magpies captain Kevin Nolan’s predatory goal in November 2012.
Since then, the Irons have scored just one goal and collected just one point in four Premier League visits.
Prior to Nolan’s strike, West Ham failed to win on any of their previous nine top-flight visits dating back to a 3-0 victory on Halloween 1998.
So, recent history is going to have to change if the Irons are to avoid another Tyneside horror-show.