When the fixtures for the 2020/21 season were released last month, West Ham United would have hoped that they would get off to a good start with a home clash against Newcastle United but Steve Bruce’s side once again took maximum points away from East London by beating the Irons 2-0.
Aaron Cresswell returned to the side after missing the home clash with newly-promoted Aston Villa on the final day of the last campaign with injury. Declan Rice was also included in the starting line-up and made his 100th appearance in the Premier League.
The visitors had been busy adding to the squad in the last week with the signings of AFC Bournemouth pair Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser along with former Norwich City defender Jamal Lewis.
There was a blow for Tomáš Souček just seconds into the game as he received an elbow in the face from former Hammer Andy Carroll. Thankfully the Czech midfielder was able to continue and after a VAR check, referee Stuart Attwell decided not to brandish an early red card.
Wilson is often a big threat to West Ham and he proved to be again here. He nearly gave the visitors the lead with just four minutes gone but instead, he headed wide, following an inviting cross from Lewis.
In an open start to the game it was then the home side’s turn to put the pressure on and ten minutes later they went close but unfortunately, Angelo Ogbonna hit the bar after Captain Mark Noble had sent a free-kick into the area.
Michail Antonio was in red hot form at the end of last season and he nearly carried on from where he had left off in July but visiting goalkeeper Karl Darlow made a great save after the frontman raced past Jamaal Lascelles to get into the box.
The best way to sum up this game is that both sides were playing well but the men from Tyneside carried the greater threat. This was evident again as the Hammers went close once more after Ryan Fredericks had played in Souček but unfortunately for the midfielder, he couldn’t beat Darlow with his header.
Jonjo Shelvey scored in both meetings between the two sides last season and he almost made it three in as many games against the same opponents here but fortunately for manager David Moyes, the former Liverpool, Swansea City and Charlton Athletic man only succeeded in finding the side netting.
Carroll was through on goal minutes later and it was only a superb block from Ogbonna which meant that the scores stayed level.
On thirty four minutes, the hosts spurned another chance. Fredericks linked up well with Pablo Fornals and the Spaniard tried his luck but a deflection off Lascelles meant that the woodwork came to the visitors’ rescue. Fornals appealed for handball but unfortunately for anyone from a West Ham persuasion, nothing was given by either Attwell or VAR.
Although both teams had chances at times in this game, when half-time arrived, the deadlock was still to be broken.
Newcastle continued to pile on the pressure after the break and it eventually paid off on fifty six minutes. Wilson failed to score on his last visit to East London on New Year’s Day but he was back scoring against the Hammers here, as he was the beneficiary of great work from both Javier Manquillo, along with fellow summer recruit Jeff Hendrick.
It was decided last month that teams would revert to the usual rule of allowing three players to be substituted. Another eleven minutes had passed when Moyes decided it was time for a double change, so the Scotsman introduced Sébastien Haller and Andriy Yarmolenko for both Fornals and the skipper.
The East Londoners thought they should have been awarded a penalty just after Haller had been thrown into the action. It was suggested that his shot was blocked by the arm of Hendrick but Attwell wasn’t interested.
The game was taken away from West Ham in the eighty seventh minute. A great pass from Miguel Almirón set Hendrick away and he beat a helpless Łukasz Fabiański.
With a minute of normal time to play, Moyes decided to use his final substitution as Felipe Anderson took the place of Jarrod Bowen.
The Irons are back in action here on Tuesday night as their Carabao Cup campaign begins with a London derby against Sky Bet League One outfit Charlton Athletic.