Hammers legend predicted ‘All-British battle’ would decide West Ham v Newcastle – He wasn’t wrong
Before Saturday’s game at the London Stadium, Tony Cottee looked at the factors most likely to dictate the final result.
The West Ham legend looking at which area(s) of the pitch might decide matters.
The former striker talked about the importance of getting the right service to summer signing Sebastien Haller, who went into the game with four goals and one assist in nine PL games but who had seen a meagre supply line in recent games.
Joelinton of course having even worse problems, only one goal before Saturday and so few chances created so far this season for both the Brazilian and other attacking players.
However, Tony Cottee saw the most important area of the pitch as being central midfield, declaring ‘We could see an all-British central midfield battle. With Declan Rice, Mark Noble and Snoddy up against the likes of Jonjo Shelvey and young Matthew Longstaff…that area of the field could have a big impact on the outcome of today’s game.’
The one-time West Ham striker going on to say: ‘Today, though, will definitely be a case of winning the midfield battle before being able to make our extra quality count.’
The middle of the pitch did indeed turn out to be a bit of an all-British affair, Rice, Noble and Snodgrass for the home side, whilst Shelvey and Hayden lined up for the visitors.
There was only one winner.
Mark Noble was subbed at half-time after a dreadful first-half, whilst England ‘superstar’ Declan Rice wishes he had been. Snodgrass scored a good goal and was one of the Hammers’ better players but no doubt who had bossed the game.
Hayden came in and gave the team something they have been missing in recent games, winning tackles and dominating the opposition midfielders.
Whilst if there was ever a game made for Jonjo Shelvey it was this one. For over 50 minutes he was given the freedom of the London Stadium as the likes of Rice and Noble inexplicably stood off him. We all know what Shelvey is good at and he had all the time in the world at times to knock it about, the midfielder playing his part in the moves for the first two goals and then scoring a cracking free-kick himself and hitting the bar.
Hayden and Shelvey were very good together in the Championship but arguably have never quite translated that form together into the top tier. At least on paper their games do complement each other and now they are set for surely a bit of a run together, at least the next two games against Bournemouth and Villa before Sean Longstaff if free from suspension.
We can be fairly confident that Hayden will turn in at least a 6 or 7 out of 10 display in these and other games but now it is down to Jonjo Shelvey to take his chance.
Tony Cottee talking pre-match to the official West Ham site:
“We could see an all-British central midfield battle.
“With Declan Rice, Mark Noble and Snoddy up against the likes of Jonjo Shelvey and young Matthew Longstaff.
“The older Longstaff brother, Sean, is of course suspended, but that area of the field could have a big impact on the outcome of today’s game.
“I watched Steve Bruce’s men recently in their match at Leicester, when they conceded five after going down to ten men and were slightly unfortunate, because they actually defended well for long periods of the game and only ran out of energy late on.
“Whether they play a back four or back five today, I would expect them to follow a similar pattern of play, perhaps not as adventurous going forward as Sheffield United, but they will make it difficult for us.
“From our point of view, it will again be about producing the right quality and approach to break them down. I personally would like to see us find a way of providing Sebastien Haller with a bit more aerial service from wide areas – crosses that he can attack or get on the end of in the box, because he certainly has the quality in that sense. He wins a lot of headers and flick-ons with his back to goal, and we must do more to utilise that strength close to goal.
“There has been a lot of talk about how we can play to Sebastien’s strengths and prevent him from looking isolated, but in my opinion it is more about the quality of delivery than how we line up or the shape of our attack. We know that we have the players capable of making assists for him because we have seen evidence of it already this season – but we do have to be more ruthless when those opportunities present themselves.
Today, though, will definitely be a case of winning the midfield battle before being able to make our extra quality count.
Stats from BBC Sport:
West Ham 2 Newcastle 3 – Saturday 2 November 3pm
Clark 16, Fernandez 22, Shelvey 51
Balbuena 73, Snodgrass 90
(Half-time stats in brackets)
Possession was West Ham 69% (68%) Newcastle 31% (32%)
Total shots were West Ham 17 (5) Newcastle 12 (7)
Shots on target were West Ham 6 (2) Newcastle 9 (6)
Corners were West Ham 7 (5) Newcastle 3 (3)
Crowd: 59,907 (3,000 Newcastle)
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Newcastle team v West Ham:
Dubravka, Yedlin, Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark, Willems (Dummett 87), Hayden, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin (Atsu 77), Almiron, Joelinton (Carroll 89)
Darlow, Krafth, Matty Longstaff, Gayle
(Manuel Pellegrini admits he can’t comprehend 3-2 Newcastle United defeat “I do not understand…” – Read HERE)
(West Ham 2 Newcastle 3 – Watch all 3 brilliant goals here in the official match highlights – Watch HERE)
(West Ham 2 Newcastle 3 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s win – Read HERE)
(Essential reading to see what Allan Saint-Maximin promised before West Ham 2 Newcastle 3 – Read HERE)
(Alan Shearer perfectly sums it up after Newcastle win 3-2 at West Ham! – Read HERE)
(West Ham 2 Newcastle 3 – NUFC could and should have won that by 5 or 6 but we’ll take it! – Read HERE)
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