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Season 2017-18
West Ham (h) Premier League


Saturday 26th August 2017, 3.00pm

 St. James' Park

Conditions: exultant

programme or 
knitting pattern?

Newcastle United

West Ham

3 - 0




36 mins Matt Ritchie robbed rookie Declan Rice midway inside his own half, Ayoze Perez laying the loose ball infield to the arriving Merino. The on-loan midfielder saw Christian Atsu pushing down the left hand channel and provided a slide rule pass that the Ghanaian turned across the box.

Although Rice did his best to repair the damage. he was unable to prevent Joselu from reaching the ball first and finding the bottom corner net with a first-time shot from seven yards  1-0

Half time: Magpies 1 Hammers 0

72 mins Having seen Nottingham Forest conjure up a goal from a set piece in midweek straight after introducing Daryl Murphy, the award of a free kick down the Newcastle right saw Rafa Benitez swap Joselu for Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Ritchie's initial dead ball was headed out but the Magpies winger retook possession and after a touchline tussle with Manuel Lanzini, swapped passes with Isaac Hayden before crossing for the unmarked Ciaran Clark to head home from six yards via a post as the stranded Pablo Zabaleta and James Collins looked blankly at each other 2-0

86 mins An aimless Hammers clearance was headed back down the field by Jamaal Lascelles to Perez, who turned and flicked the ball forward before he was fouled. Referee Swarbrick rightly allowed play to continue as the pass reached an unmarked and onside Aleksandar Mitrovic.  

Having blasted a similar effort moments earlier straight at Joe Hart, the Serbian this time opted to swerve around the Hammers goalkeeper as he went to ground before casually converting from just outside the Leazes End six yard box. Triple Hart bypass.

Full time: Magpies 3 Hammers 0

We Said



Rafa Benitez:

"When you are losing it is difficult, when you are winning everyone is happy.

"We won with everyone trying so hard. The fans were crucial last year and they have to be crucial this year - they are trying to help. I think I have some friends in the stands.

"I said before that Joselu needed to be fit. He did well. It was a great effort. Matt Ritchie is an important player - the way he works is an example for the others.

"We will try and bring in players that will give us something different. We know these players.

"It would not be fair to mention one player - all the players – the team – did well. Joselu did well, Mitro showed the right attitude. It was good for the future, and they have to realise that is the way to go. Mikel
(Merino) has to show things in the next few games as well. We will see.

“It is always nice to win, especially when you win at home and the way we won – three goals, clean sheet, team effort, a lot of good performances, so really positive. 

"The team worked very hard. The fans appreciated that. They were behind the players. They can make the difference. The main thing for me is the team.

"I said before, the fans, the city, the stature of the club, you can enjoy when things are right. Today everything was right. 

"I have said that that we only had two games. It was important we started to win. You don’t worry about the first goal, the first win, now you think about getting the second win."

They Said

Slaven Bilic commented:

We made a mistake that led to their first goal and it gave them a boost.

"We came back in the second half and we better in the first 10 minutes, but it's a game of mistakes. We didn't play good. They were the better side. The goals helped them. They deserved those goals because they pressured high up the pitch.

"We have to admit they were better in everything, especially in determination and wanting to win second balls and making a transition when doing that. We didn't deserve anything. We had a midweek game but that had nothing to do with today's performance.

"We are trying to be active (in the transfer window) still but I was happy with the team, it was just the performance that was not good. We can talk about the away games but I expected a lot, lot more." 


Joselu's first Newcastle goal made him our 126th different PL scorer (not including OGs). Although actually born in Germany, he's the fifth Spanish player to net for us in competitive games:

Jose Enrique: 1 Championship (1)
Albert Luque: 1 PL, 2 Europe (3)
Xisco: 1 PL (1)
Ayoze Perez: 13 PL, 9 Championship, 3 LC (25)
Joselu: 1 PL (1)

No competitive goals: Marcelino, Jesus Gamez, Javier Manquillo, Mikel Merino. 

Using birthplace as a measure not nationality, Joselu is the third German-born player to appear for us in the PL and the second to net - with Didi Hamann (Alan Neilson is the non-scoring one).

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored his tenth PL goal on his 35th appearance in that competition (22 starts). That puts him one ahead of Tino Asprilla, Jermaine Jenas, Peter Lovenkrands and Charles N'Zogbia. He's drawn level with Leon Best and Paul Kitson.

Ciaran Clark's
fourth Newcastle goal was the first in the Premier League - making him our 127th scorer in that competition. His previous three came in the Championship - at QPR, at home to Brentford, at home to Bristol City. All four were headers. 

At the seventeenth time of asking, Joe Hart finished on the losing side to Newcastle. Sixteen times he faced us for Manchester City, losing fourteen times and drawing twice. Hart kept seven clean sheets in that sequence, conceded one goal in eight games and two in the other.

Hammers in Toon - PL era:

2017/18: Won 3-0 Joselu, Clark, Mitrovic
2015/16: Won 2-1 Perez, Wijnaldum
2014/15: Won 2-0 Sissoko, Gutierrez
2013/14: Drew 0-0
2012/13: Lost 0-1
2010/11: Won 5-0 Best 3, Nolan, Lovenkrands
2008/09: Drew 2-2 Owen, Carroll
2007/08: Won 3-1 Viduka 2, N'Zogbia
2006/07: Drew 2-2 Milner, Solano
2005/06: Drew 0-0
2002/03: Won 4-0 LuaLua 2, Shearer, Solano
2001/02: Won 3-1 Shearer, LuaLua, Robert
2000/01: Won 2-1 Cort, Solano
1999/00: Drew 2-2 Dabizas, Speed
1998/99: Lost 0-3
1997/98: Lost 0-1
1996/97: Drew 1-1 Beardsley
1995/96: Won 3-0 Albert, Asprilla, Ferdinand
1994/95: Won 2-0 Clark, Kitson
1993/94: Won 2-0 Cole 2




"When you win you are happy, but the performance of the team 
and the connection between fans and players was, for me, ideal." 

Rafa Benitez

After the difficulties and distress of the opening two Premier League games, it proved to be third time lucky for Rafa Benitez and his Newcastle side, who ultimately got off the mark in some style.

Three points, three goals and an immeasurably more confident and committed display dispelled much of the doom and gloom that had engulfed Tyneside recently. Having something tangible positive on the field to talk about rather than endless speculation and rancour makes a nice change....

It was a result few would have predicted given the build-up that had seen a League Cup exit and more tales of disquiet on and off the pitch that had painted the picture of a club imploding. Again.

But by the final whistle you wouldn't have guessed it as fans, players and manager came together, as they had done for the majority of last season to show that this club's heart is still beating.  

But thank the Lord we were facing a West Ham side in greater disarray than us, who had another off day as they made it three defeats out of three and ten goals conceded by England's number one hair product mannequin (if we really did bid for Joe Hart then give thanks he turned us down).

The pre-match build-up saw a solid show of faith in Benitez by Gallowgate Flags, who elected to unfurl only a single Rafa flag - underscoring the belief that this all stands or falls on his shoulders. Positive chants directed towards the home dugout throughout the game underlined that support.

Owner Mike Ashley was absent from the Director's Box, although Lee Charnley was present and had England Manager Gareth Southgate sat near him - watching precisely who is anyone's guess....

There were some welcome early signs that the hosts were up for the fight and carried the game to West Ham at every opportunity, giving them no time to dwell on the ball. The visitors occasionally threatened through Javier Hernandez and Andre Ayew, but thankfully neither were able to reprise their previous goals against us. 

An even first half had seen some good approach play by Newcastle undermined by mis-control and weak finishing, keeping it scoreless until Joselu finished off a flowing move involving Christian Atsu and Mikel Merino in the 36th minute.

The pivotal moment of the game though came on 51 minutes, when Aaron Cresswell found room to advance before letting fly from 20 yards. Rob Elliot parried, but Hernandez instinctively sent the loose ball goalwards. The goalkeeper got a glove on that second effort but the lurking Ayew looked set to score - only for Ciaran Clark to made a miraculous clearance from inside the six yard box.

Ayoze Perez and Matt Ritchie could both have capped effort-laden displays by doubling the lead, before man of the match Clark made a timely appearance at the other end of the field - heading home Ritchie's free kick to spark joyous celebrations on and off the pitch.

More goals could and should have followed but a third duly arrived four minutes from time when substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic walked the ball home - thanks to the officials, who allowed the advantage and also made the correct call that the striker was marginally onside....

As is often the case though, both sides of Mitrovic were evident once again - the goal following an earlier elbow aimed at Manuel Lanzini which may yet result in a retrospective three match ban - although referee Neil Swarbrick clearly saw the incident and judged contact to be unintentional. 

Hopefully this will follow Steve Mounie's stamp on Isaac Hayden last week at Huddersfield, deemed to be a case of re-refereeing after the game which is not something the FA like to do. 

Regardless of the eventual outcome though, the pointlessness of the incident is beyond question. Like Jonjo Shelvey in the Spurs game, the foul gave us absolutely no advantage. 

Quite how victory affects Rafa's budget before the window closes on Thursday remains to be seen, but three points visibly boosted his squad's confidence and significantly lifted the prevailing mood.

Despite the fact that Chancel Mbemba filled in well today, news that Paul Dummett's hamstring injury is more serious than thought makes left back cover a priority, while the goalkeeping situation continues to exercise the manager.

The absence of Dwight Gayle and Karl Darlow from today's squad meanwhile had been explained on fitness grounds, but speculation that both could be sold subsequently increased.  

And having put in a committed if flawed 120 minutes against Forest in midweek, Henri Saivet made the bench for the second successive league game - Jack Colback still firmly out of the picture.

The win took United up to fifteenth, with a defeat for Leicester at Old Trafford improving that by one place. We sit three points ahead of the bottom three sides West Ham, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth who have all played and lost three times.

The media's post-match agenda ran along the expected lines of "Bilic out, Rafa in" at the London Stadium - a tale that first emerged last season and had a basis in favourable comments allegedly made by the Hammers owners.

However, that tale and press attempts to make capital out of the Mitro elbow were followed by news of a post-match meeting at the ground between the manager, Charnley, Sports Director lawyer Justin Barnes and fellow Ashley cohort Keith Bishop. 

Parallels with 2008 and then-manager Kevin Keegan being summoned to London for "showdown talks" following public comments that were interpreted as criticism of the owner are impossible to ignore. 

And equally concerning was the subsequent assertion (in the Mirror) that "Rafa Benitez has agreed to shut up and get on with his job." One senses that the reality may be somewhat different and the current manager hasn't suddenly become a yes man like his predecessors.

There may be trouble ahead, but it's nice to get off the mark and the three points meant local bar staff earned their money on Saturday night. Even the mackem squad were picturing seeking solace in a Tyneside boozer after a 0-3 loss at Barnsley, not that many recognised them. Or cared.

The local feathered population also seemed happy, goalkeeper Rob Elliot confirming that a bird had crapped on him during the game and wondering whether that had brought his team some luck. 

Whether his manager is being dumped on from a great height is less clear however. 


Page last updated 29 August, 2017