Saturday 24th August
St James' Park
Newcastle United vs West Ham United
After a fantastic opening weekend for West Ham, the team must now make the long journey up North to St James' Park (and the fans must make the even longer journey up the stairs).
It's fair to say the there is currently a better mood around West Ham as a club, than there is Newcastle United. The Toon Army began their season with a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City, a red card to one of their key defenders, and a "derisory" offer for one of their star midfielders.
Based on the week they've had, there will be plenty of Hammers out their who are expecting us to go up there and turn them over.
But it might not be that simple. Newcastle United are many things, but predictable is not one of them. They possess some wildly talented attacking players, and defenders capable of keeping out the best offensive sides in the division. And of course, they, like so many sides, are a completely different animal at home.
So, who should we look out for?
Well, for me, the real danger man is Hatem Ben Arfa. The Frenchman is among the most direct and attacking wingers in the Premier League, constantly running at the opposition and aiming to cause mayhem. In the Premier League last season, Ben Arfa took on a player on 138 separate occasions, beating him on 79 of those. That comes in at 4.2 successful take ons per game, and 7.3 attempted per game.
To put those figures into perspective, West Ham's entire team completed on average 5.0 take ons per game last season.
Even in the rather insipid team display at the Etihad on Monday night, the winger attempted 8 take ons (5 of which were successful). He was only on the pitch for 55 minutes. This means he beat a Manchester City player once every 11 minutes, taking one on once every 7 minutes.
The image below shows Ben Arfa's take ons on Monday night.
Provided the defenders can deal with Ben Arfa's direct attacking game, his inclusion in the Newcastle side does offer some attacking encouragement.
Despite playing as Newcastle's right winger, the Frenchman can often be found drifting into the middle of the park looking for shooting opportunities.
If West Ham can get the balance between defence and attack correct, we could be in for a fruitful Saturday afternoon in Northumberland. The option of either Matt Jarvis or Stewart Downing on the left flank to offer a quick breakaway could be West Ham's key out ball against Newcastle.
The image below shows Ben Arfa's action zones against City. As you can see, he actually spend considerably more time playing through the central attacking third than he did on the flanks - often leaving the right full back, Mathieu Debuchy, completely exposed.
The final area I'm going to cover, is Newcastle's captain.
Last year, Alan Pardew said that Fabricio Coloccini was playing like Bobby Moore. It does make me wonder though, if Coloccini is like Bobby Moore, what does that make Winston Reid?
Coloccini completed 76% of his 45 tackles last season, and won 50% of his 64 aerial duels. Reid, on the other hand, completed 77% of his 70 tackles, and won 62% of his 139 aerial duels.
In seriousness though, Coloccini is a good Premier League defender, and West Ham will do well to get past him. That said, there are ways to do it.
Firstly, as already mentioned, the Argentine was successful with 50% of his aerial duels last season. Judging by comments from Sam Allardyce and David Gold today, it sounds as though there is an outside chance that a certain Andy Carroll could be back for this game. Should that be the case, the Geordie could have a field day in the air against his former team mate.
Even if Carroll isn't back, Modibo Maiga showed last weekend that he's perfectly able to do battle in the air with defenders.
The other way in which Coloccini sometimes let's himself down, is that - despite a very good tackle success rate - he is actually beaten by players quite regularly. Last season, he was dribbled by on 15 occasions, or 0.7 times per game. This is marginally better than James Collins (0.8 per game), but worse than both Winston Reid (0.6) and James Tomkins (0.3).
Although Maiga hasn't had the best start to life with West Ham, he was successful with 4 of his 10 attempts to beat players last season, and managed two out of two against Cardiff last week. It could be, that the best way to attack Newcastle and Coloccini is to get Maiga on the ball and try to take it past the centre half.
For me, Saturday is where we will really start to see how West Ham have progressed as a side this season. Opening the campaign with a solid home victory was great, but it was almost expected given our excellent home form last season.
Where we really need to improve is out on the road. If we want to progress as a football club, we need to start winning more games on our travels - or at the very least we need to start showing a bit more intent away from home.
If we turn up at St James' Park and have a real go at Newcastle United, I'll be a happy Hammer. And if we can bring home a point or three, I'd be even happier.
Head to Head
40% Head to Head Win % 31%
49 Won 38
36 Drawn 36
38 Lost 49
189 Goals Scored 170
170 Goals Conceded 189
L L W D L D Last 6 W W L D L W
3 Goals Scored 9
13 Goals Conceded 6
L L L D W W Home/Away Form L L D D L W
3 Goals Scored 3
11 Goals Conceded 7
Hatem Ben Arfa - Kevin Nolan
- Last 6 66.38
1 Goals Scored 5
0 Assists 0
19 Appearances 35
4 Goals 10
2 Assists 2
1 Chances Created 28
533 Passes 1018
434 Passes Completed 801
81.4% % Completed 78.7%
04 May 2013
4-2-3-1 Starting Formation 4-2-3-1
Rob Elliot - Jussi Jääskeläinen
Danny Simpson - Guy Demel
Steven Taylor - James Collins
Fabricio Coloccini - Winston Reid
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa - Joey O'Brien
Jonas Gutierrez - Gary O'Neil
Cheik Tioté - Mohamed Diamé
Hatem Ben Arfa - Ricardo Vâz Te
Yohan Cabaye - Kevin Nolan
Yoan Gouffran - Matt Jarvis
Papiss Cissé - Andy Carroll
Newcastle United: Jak Alnwick, Massaido Haidara, Davide Santon, Ryan Taylor, Jonas Gutierrez, Loic Remy
West Ham United: George McCartney, Andy Carroll
Newcastle United: Steven Taylor
West Ham United: n/a
Opposition Last Time Out
vs Manchester City
Goals Scored: 0
Goals Conceded: 4
Starting Formation: 4-2-3-1
Mathieu Debuchy Steven Taylor Fabricio Coloccini Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa
Jonas Gutierrez Cheik Tioté
Hatem Ben Arfa Moussa Sissoko Yoan Gouffran
subs: Rob Elliot, Paul Dummett, Vurnon Anita, Gabriel Obertan, Sylvain Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi
Best Player: Cheik Tioté (69.07)
Worst Player: Mathieu Debuchy (57.27)
Top 5's (min 5 apps)
Demba Ba 13 - 10 Kevin Nolan
Papiss Cissé 8 - 7 Andy Carroll
Yohan Cabaye 6 - 4 Mark Noble
Hatem Ben Arfa 4 - 3 Ricardo Vâz Te
Moussa Sissoko 3 - 3 Mohamed Diamé
Sylvain Marveaux 4 - 4 Ricardo Vâz Te
Gabriel Obertan 2 - 4 Joey O'Brien
Hatem Ben Arfa 2 - 4 Andy Carroll
Moussa Sissoko 2 - 3 Mark Noble
Yohan Cabaye 2 - 3 Gary O'Neil
Shane Ferguson 90.4% - 84.1% Mohamed Diamé
Steven Taylor 90.1% - 82.6% Mark Noble
James Perch 88.9% - 80.5% Joe Cole
Fabricio Coloccini 88.6% - 79.8% George McCartney
Sylvain Marveaux 87.3% - 79.2% Joey O'Brien
Chances Created per game
Yohan Cabaye 2 - 1.5 Mark Noble
Moussa Sissoko 1.6 - 1.5 Gary O'Neil
Sylvain Marveaux 1.5 - 1.5 Joe Cole
Vurnon Anita 1.4 - 1.4 Andy Carroll
Hatem Ben Arfa 1.3 - 1.4 Matt Jarvis
Successful Dribbles per game
Hatem Ben Arfa 4.2 - 2 Mohamed Diamé
Moussa Sissoko 2.4 - 0.8 Guy Demel
Davide Santon 1.5 - 0.7 Ricardo Vâz Te
Chiek Tioté 1.2 - 0.5 Matthew Jarvis
Sammy Ameobi 1.1 - 0.4 Joey O'Brien
Tackles per game
Yohan Cabaye 3.1 - 3.6 Mark Noble
Jonas Gutierrez 2.5 - 3.5 Mohamed Diamé
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa 2.5 - 1.9 Winston Reid
Cheik Tioté 2.4 - 1.8 James Collins
Davide Santon 2.2 - 1.8 George McCartney
Aerial Duels Won per game
Mike Williamson 6.5 - 9.3 Andy Carroll
Mathieu Debuchy 3.6 - 3.9 Carlton Cole
Demba Ba 2.9 - 2.9 James Collins
Steven Taylor 2.9 - 2.7 James Tomkins
Moussa Sissoko 2.3 - 2.4 Winston Reid
Alan Pardew - Sam Allardyce
36.3% Current Club Win % 43.1%
44 Won 41
32 Drawn 25
45 Lost 29
42.3% Managerial Career Win % 40.2%
275 Won 335
165 Drawn 224
210 Lost 274
0 League Titles 2
1 Cup Wins 0