West Ham 2-3 Newcastle
Goals: Fabian Balbuena (£4.3m), Robert Snodgrass (£5.2m) | Ciaran Clark (£4.3m), Federico Fernández (£4.4m), Jonjo Shelvey (£5.0m)
Assists: Sébastien Haller (£7.3m), Manuel Lanzini (£6.3m) | Joelinton (£5.7m), Jetro Willems (£4.5m), Isaac Hayden (£4.4m)
Bonus Points: Willems x3, Shelvey x2, Snodgrass x2
Newcastle took advantage of some questionable West Ham defending and tactical flaws to serve up one of the surprise results of Gameweek 11.
Despite coming to the London Stadium without an away goal since Gameweek 5, the Magpies found the net three times.
Key to their success was a return to the starting line-up for central midfielder Jonjo Shelvey (£5.0m), featuring from the beginning for the first time since Gameweek 6.
He dominated the midfield in a battle with Declan Rice (£4.8m), provided threat from set pieces and helped exposed a very defensive line from the hosts.
All afternoon long, West Ham were incredibly susceptible to the counter-attack, Shelvey very easily unleashing the pacey Miguel Almirón (£5.8m) and Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.4m) in wide areas. He also hit the crossbar from the edge of the box.
In the end, Shelvey got his Fantasy returns from set pieces dispatching a free-kick from distance in the second after Isaac Hayden (£4.4m) was fouled.
Newcastle’s first goal also came from his delivery, his free-kick arriving at the back post for Joelinton (£5.7m) to nod down for Ciaran Clark (£4.3m) to score.
As Shelvey was one of the best players on the pitch, joined in Newcastle’s central midfield by Hayden returning from suspension, it will be interesting to see who gets the nod there in Gameweek 12.
Manager Steve Bruce has been relying on the family duo of Sean Longstaff (£5.0m) and Matthew Longstaff (£4.5m) in recent weeks but the former is suspended until Gameweek 14, while the latter dropped to the bench for this one.
“I just thought if we needed a pass, Jonjo could give a pass. With set-pieces, he’s made one today and scored one. Always in the back of my mind, I knew he was a West Ham fan so this is a stage he wants to play. He was very good today. He’s got to maintain it. Today, I got the decision right.” – Steve Bruce
On a day when West Ham’s defence was so poor, Saint-Maximin really should have emerged with some attacking returns.
Running Pablo Zabaleta (£4.3m) ragged all afternoon, he twice he raced clear of West Ham’s high line and positioned himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Roberto Jiménez Gago (£4.4m).
On both occasions, Saint-Maximin’s shots weren’t as ruthlessly taken as they should be, saved by the goalkeeper.
On his second foray into an unguarded Hammers’ penalty area, the midfielder was able to pick up the pieces and square for Almirón, who also fired his effort straight at the goalkeeper.
While Saint-Maximin clearly should have done better with his end-product, it was a clear example of the blistering pace he brings to the Newcastle team.
“Well, I said from the first moment I saw (Saint-Maximin), he’s going to get you and excite you and take you off your seat. Unfortunately, he has been hampered by a horrible hamstring injury. If he stays fit and healthy, there’s things he must improve on but he’s got that natural ability which not many people have. He’s quick and he takes you. It’s natural. You cannot coach it. You’re either born with it – I believe he learned on the streets of France – and you can see. He just has to improve on the final thing, take the right pass, but that hopefully will come with time and experience because he’s only a young boy. He’s only 22. When you think Longy’s 22, it puts it into perspective.” – Steve Bruce
Left-back Jetro Willems (£4.5m) was another exciting outlet for Newcastle, claiming an assist for Federico Fernández‘s (£4.4m) first-half header and emerging with three bonus points from the 3-2 win.
Whether such a morale-boosting win will mean better things for Newcastle assets from an attacking perspective moving forward remains to be seen.
As much as the Magpies were comfortably the better team and should probably have won by a three or four-goal margin, they were still somewhat wasteful, in spite of West Ham’s poor defending allowing them plenty of chances.
A Gameweek 12 meeting with Bournemouth, who are currently on a three-game streak for clean sheets, may prove trickier, although Aston Villa in Gameweek 13 could provide them with more opportunities.
As already mentioned, the story of this match from a West Ham perspective has to be about their dreadful defending. They were all over the place, especially, in the first half, and arguably should have been four goals down at the interval.
Zabaleta was exposed by Saint-Maximin’s pace, Aaron Cresswell (£4.9m) allowed Almirón past him in the first-half, causing Issa Diop (£4.5m) to foul him and give away the free-kick that led to the opening goal.
Left-back Cresswell was also the man tasked with marking Clark for that set piece, despite the obvious height difference.
This was also Fabian Balbuena‘s (£4.3m) second start in a row, with Angelo Ogbonna (£4.5m) dropped against Sheffield United for no overtly obvious reason. As we saw on occasion last season, Balbuena was poor, has conceded four goals in two matches, and Ogbonna may feel confident about getting his place back.
Goalkeeper Roberto has come under fire from West Ham fans recently but his performance against Newcastle proved that to some extent, he can be credited for keeping scorelines respectable.
This season he has averaged four saves per game, 2.2 of them produced inside the penalty area. Furthermore, without his contributions, West Ham could have conceivably been 4-0 down by half-time against Newcastle, his two stops denying Saint-Maximin the most important.
However, Roberto was still not without error on Saturday afternoon, caught in no man’s land for Newcastle’s second goal, allowing Fernández to score a simple header.
The West Ham goalkeeper should perhaps have done better for Shelvey’s free-kick, managing to get two hands on it but not enough to parry it away from his near post.
It is these sorts of errors that have ruined Roberto’s achievements since arriving at West Ham and already home supporters are greeting the saves he does make with ironic cheers – that can hardly be helping his confidence.
What makes West Ham’s display even more discouraging is the fact that Bruce’s players revealed after the match that they had been told to watch out for the high line and exploit it.
Such comments could further increase the pressure on Manuel Pellegrini to change things around ahead of a Gameweek 12 trip to Burnley. After all, West Ham are now without a clean sheet since their 2-0 win over Manchester United in Gameweek 6.
“We know that Pellegrini’s teams like to play a high line. The gaffer spoke about it before. They (West Ham) always struggle with runners from deep and we worked on it in training and it paid off.” – Jonjo Shelvey
“I don’t think I’m surprised – it was something we worked on during the week in training. The coaches explained to us the way they wanted us to play and encouraged us that, if we played that way, we would get in and get some chances. As I say, on another day we could have been four or five up and the game would have been over.” – Ciaran Clark
West Ham offered next to nothing offensively in the first half, Sébastien Haller (£7.3m) having their only decent chance, a bicycle kick well-saved by Martin Dúbravka (£5.0m).
Pellegrini shuffled his pack at half-time in an attempt to inject some life into his side’s attack.
Much to the chagrin of his Fantasy owners, Andriy Yarmolenko (£6.0m) was replaced by Manuel Lanzini (£6.3m) while Albian Ajeti (£5.8m) came on for Mark Noble (£5.0m).
Those changes had some impact for the Hammers, Balbuena pulling one back from a corner, after Haller had flicked on at the near post.
That was the Frenchman’s first attacking return since Gameweek 8, although he extended his goalless run to three matches, skewing a second bicycle kick wide later in the match.
The only real shining light for West Ham was Robert Snodgrass (£5.2m), who impressed for the second match in a row back in the side.
Deployed at central midfield, he rifled home an impressive volley from the edge of the box to give Newcastle a scare.
That was his second goal in as many matches since returning to side, which could see him claw his way back to being a viable route into the West Ham attack.
West Ham United XI (4-2-3-1): Roberto; Cresswell, Diop, Balbuena, Zabaleta (Fredericks 72′); Rice, Snodgrass, Noble (Ajeti 46′), Yarmolenko (Lanzini 46′); Haller.
Newcastle United XI (5-4-1): Dúbravka; Willems (Dummett 87′), Clark, Lascelles, Fernández, Yedlin; Saint-Maximin (Atsu 77′), Shelvey, Hayden, Almirón; Joelinton (Carroll 89′).
Lessons learned from Gameweek 11
- Bournemouth 1-0 Manchester United
- Arsenal 1-1 Wolves
- Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool
- Brighton 2-0 Norwich
- Manchester City 2-1 Southampton
- Sheffield United 3-0 Burnley
- West Ham United 2-3 Newcastle United
- Watford 1-2 Chelsea
- Crystal Palace 0-2 Leicester City
- Everton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
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