Ahead of the game today, Match of The Day commentator Guy Mowbray has been analysing the Newcastle v West Ham game.
Rafa Benitez’ team looking to make it four wins on the trot and move further away from the relegation zone.
The Hammers have been heading the opposite way, after a decent start, they have won only once since September.
Guy Mowbray makes the point that Rafa Benitez stayed calm despite the tough start to the season, repeatedly saying things would turn out ok.
Three results don’t make a season but certainly things are on an upward curve again and Newcastle have five games before Christmas where they have a realistic chance of taking points from all of them.
The Match of The Day man suggests that Manuel Pellegrini is taking a leaf out of Rafa’s book and is successfully playing things down.
However, there are two major differences.
Firstly, Rafa’s bond with the Newcastle fans helped keep things from imploding.
Secondly, Pellegrini was backed with £100m in the summer, whilst Rafa was forced to make a £20m+ profit on summer transfer deals.
If Newcastle can add to West Ham’s woes, their supporters will lose a little more patience.
As for this fixture, it is funny how we all tend to remember the ones where we tend to do badly, such as only one win at Old Trafford since 1972 and only the one victory in the Premier League at Anfield so far.
The stats on this one today are overwhelming in Newcastle’s favour.
As the killer facts below show, West Ham have won only once at St James Park since 1998 and then on top of that, Rafa Benitez has more PL victories (11) against the Hammers than any other club.
An awful lot going in Newcastle’s favour today and now just a case of showing that on the pitch this afternoon.
Cardiff’s win against Wolves on Friday night has tightened things up even further and nobody will be complacent, as despite Newcastle now being in 13th, only three points separate the Magpies and bottom spot.
Match of The Day commentator’s notes:
“As November began with Newcastle still winless and prophecies of relegation doom were sounded, Rafa Benitez remained sanguine.
“Pointing to last term’s early struggles of Everton, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace, he more than once stated: “I am 100% convinced we will stay up.”
“Three wins out of three later, that confident message has spread, with the task now to keep the momentum against another team with an experienced manager who prefers to play the long game.
“Manuel Pellegrini was also a picture of patience amid West Ham’s losing start, and has now serenely played down any hype about the “pressure” of this particular finely-balanced game.
“Keep calm and carry on, gentlemen.”
Newcastle have won four of their past five games against West Ham, including the last three.
The Hammers have won just one of their last 14 games at St James’ Park, a sequence spanning 20 years (D5, L8). Their only win there this century was by 1-0 in November 2012.
Six of Newcastle’s 11 league goals this season have been headers, equivalent to 54.5% – the highest percentage in the top flight.
Rafael Benitez has won 11 Premier League games against West Ham, more than versus any other side, including six victories in seven home matches.
Benitez is one short of becoming the eighth manager to win 100 Premier League home games. Arsene Wenger (286) and Jose Mourinho (105) are the only foreign coaches to have reached the landmark.
West Ham have won just one of their last six top-flight games (D2, L3).
The Hammers have kept one clean sheet in their past 14 league matches, in September’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea.