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Opinion

3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Newcastle 2 West Ham 2

4 weeks ago
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Sunday afternoon ended Newcastle 2 West Ham 2.

The Hammers taking the lead both in the first and second half.

Only for the Magpies to quickly level things up on both occasions.

Ahead of each match we ask one of our writers to come up with 3 positives and 3 negatives following the game.

This time it is Jack Lacey-Hatton:

POSITIVES

Unbeaten Home Run Extended

We may have failed to add another three points to our tally but it was another game without defeat at St James Park. In league terms we have not lost at home since the New Year’s Day defeat to Leicester City – which seems like a lifetime ago now. Our form at SJP has been consistent throughout the campaign, allowing Bruce a stable base to build from in the league.

We have only lost three times (six wins and eight draws) on our own patch in the Premier League this season, with two still to play. To put that into context – in our two most recent 5th place finishes (2003-04 and 2011-12) we also only lost three games at home all season.

Avoid defeat against Spurs and Liverpool (unlikely as that is) and that will be an impressive achievement for the season.

Free from the pressure of a relegation battle is undoubtedly helping, and yes we had to settle for a draw, but rarely losing on home soil is not a bad habit to get into, even with the stands lying empty.

Miggy finding his goalscoring touch

Another goal from Almiron, who looks a player transformed compared to before Christmas. Our Paraguayan forward is now the top scorer in all competitions this season with eight goals, a far cry from the days of his goal drought.

In the reverse fixture against West Ham back in October he missed a sitter. The sort of miss that made you question whether he would ever find the net in a black and white shirt. Since he broke his duck against Palace though, he looks far more relaxed in front of goal.

Hopefully he can hit double figures over the last few weeks of the season. That would be remarkable considering his earlier struggles.

Team Spirit on display

Maybe the team benefited from no crowd moans after the early West Ham goal yesterday, but either way, it was good to see United not falling apart when going behind.

We were safe before kick-off, and for all the talk of how we want to climb the table and secure a top-half finish, West Ham had far more riding on the game than we did.

It was even more pleasing then for us to fight back in quick succession on two occasions.

Although not as dramatic as the comeback at Goodison in January, yesterday provided more evidence that this Newcastle side never quite know when they are beaten.

It is vital that whatever happens over the shortened off-season, we retain this trait going into the next campaign.

NEGATIVES

Another waste of a winnable game

It’s never a bad point when you twice come back from a losing position. Equally though, my post-game feelings felt similar to after the Villa game.

They looked fairly uninspiring and were almost there for the taking. We should have created more chances than we did with the formation and personnel selected.

Looking at our final five games it was clear this was, on paper at least, our best chance of another win before the season ends.

The games against Manchester City and Liverpool will be (obviously) incredibly difficult. That leaves us with a trip to Watford, who will be desperate for points, a home fixture against Spurs and a trip to Brighton.

Spurs should still be in the race for Europe and even on inconsistent form it will still be a tough game.

Brighton at least have little to play for, but we have always struggled down at the Amex, apart from the 2-1 win in the Championship season.
I hope we don’t look back on the West Ham game as when our form started to dip.

Injuries/Fitness issues

Perhaps this was inevitable with so many games coming thick and fast at the moment but the injury problems are starting to become an issue.

Bruce said himself after the game that Allan Saint-Maximin looks tired and will probably miss the City game. He already looked a little ragged against the Hammers compared to his recent displays.

Issac Hayden, for me our player of the season, has also fallen victim to a hamstring problem along with fellow midfielder Sean Longstaff.
Our midfield options look to be severely reduced going into the final weeks of the season.

We still look more open at the back

The change in formation and tactical style from just before the lockdown has definitely had its benefits.

Clearly Almiron and ASM look far more dangerous now they enter the penalty box with more frequency, Joelinton has also looked better when not cutting an isolated figure up front in the defensive 5-2-2-1 we employed for much of the season.

This does mean though that we are taking more risks defensively, I mean if this current set-up was perfect, Bruce would have used it all season and never had to revert to the defensive shape Benitez installed in the previous campaign.

For fans of ‘attractive football’, the current output is not the eyesore some of our previous football was labelled as this season.

We do though need to be wary of giving away more chances, facing a higher number of shots on target.

We have kept only one clean sheet since the lockdown, against ten men Sheffield United, and even then they missed a sitter through Billy Sharp.

Even in the game that initiated the change, the 1-0 win over 10 man Southampton in March, we relied on a number of excellent stops from Dubravka.

It would be reassuring if we could keep another clean sheet or two before the end of the season.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 2 West Ham 2 – Sunday 5 July 2.15 pm

Goals:

Newcastle United:

Almiron 17, Shelvey 67

West Ham:

Antonio 4, Soucek 65

(Half-time stats in brackets)

Possession was West Ham 47% (42%) Newcastle 53% (58%)

Total shots were West Ham 17 (9) Newcastle 11 (6)

Shots on target were West Ham 7 (4) Newcastle 4 (3)

Corners were West Ham 4 (1) Newcastle 6 (4)

Referee: Craig Pawson

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Krafth, Fernandez, Lascelles, Manquillo, Shelvey, Hayden (Bentaleb 43), Almiron, Joelinton (Carroll 81), Gayle (Ritchie 70), Saint-Maximin (Lazaro 69)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Schär, Yedlin, Rose, M. Longstaff

Crowd: 00,000

(Steve Bruce names 3 Newcastle United players after West Ham game who will miss Manchester City – Read HERE)

(David Moyes not a happy man after final whistle at St James Park – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 2 West Ham 2 – Match ratings and comments – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 2 West Ham 2 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Sunday’s draw – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 2 West Ham 2 – Watch official match highlights HERE including all 4 goals)

You can follow the author on Twitter @JackLaceySport

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