West Ham v Newcastle, 15:00
– A consolation goal in the final minutes from Andy Carroll was not enough to prevent West Ham from suffering a 2-1 defeat against Manchester City at the Etihad.
– It will interesting to see how Carroll deals with facing his beloved former club but all signs are that he is returning to his imposing best and will be in merciless form against the Magpies. Carroll has found a measure of stability at West Ham, compiling the greatest number of attempts on goal in the Hammers squad (63) as well as averaging the least amount of time of any of his teammates to get a shot on goal, with one attempt coming on average once every 28.7 minutes according to the EA SPORTS Player performance Index.
– James Tomkins remains West Ham’s best tackler this season, having been successful with 78.7% of his 47 attempted challenges this season. His defensive reading of the game will be crucial against a Newcastle side that will be pressing for a much-needed win following a string of disappointing performances.
– No West Ham player has ventured forward with more success than Mark Noble this season, completing a squad-high 511 passes in the opponent’s half this season at an average rate of one every 4.6 minutes, another squad-best. The Newcastle defence has shown serious fragility in recent weeks and Hammers fans will be looking to Noble to provide the platform for their side’s attacks this weekend.
– Newcastle were humbled 0-6 at home by Liverpool last weekend in a result that leaves them just two places from the bottom three and in a real relegation dogfight. Alan Pardew will be demanding a response from his players this weekend.
– A quick start could be crucial to Newcastle’s chances of success this weekend, having seen two big games in recent weeks run away from them. Papiss Cisse will be the man the Toon Army expect to rise to the occasion, not surprising given that the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows him as having a shot on goal on average once every 38.8 minutes this season. Cisse’s shot accuracy rate remains a concern though, having only seen 49.3% of his efforts find their way on target.
– Newcastle appear to be a club in freefall and it’s at times like this that you need your big players to step up to the plate. Yohan Cayabe is one such player having average a pass in the opponent’s half on average once every 4.8 minutes this season. He will need to step up and dictate play here away from home.
– Alan Pardew will be desperate for some defensive solidarity this weekend though, having seen his side have 6 put past them last weekend. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa will be central to this, the young centre-half already adapting to life in the Premier League, averaging a defensive contribution once every 16.7 minutes following his arrival in January.