Newcastle were brought back down to earth following their Carabao Cup heroics in midweek as West Ham held them to a deserved 1-1 draw at St James’ Park.
The Magpies have made huge strides under Eddie Howe this season – with their Wembley date against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup final at the end of the month clear evidence of their progress – but their form in the Premier League has been patchy of late.
Newcastle did make a stunning start to the contest, with Joe Willock’s strike inside the first minute ruled out by VAR, before Callum Wilson successfully opened the scoring just two minutes later.
But West Ham more than matched their hosts and equalised before half-time through Lucas Paqueta, who became the first player to score against Newcastle in the Premier League since November 6 and handed them their fourth draw in their last five games in the competition.
Newcastle: Pope (6), Trippier (7), Schar (7), Botman (7), Burn (7), Willock (7), Longstaff (7), Joelinton (6), Almiron (6), Wilson (7), Saint-Maximin (6).
Subs: Gordon (6), Murphy (n/a), Anderson (n/a).
West Ham: Fabianski (7), Kehrer (6), Ogbonna (6), Aguerd (7), Coufal (7), Paqueta (7), Rice (7), Emerson (7), Bowen (7), Antonio (6), Benrahma (6).
Subs: Johnson (6), Fornals (6), Soucek (6), Ings (n/a), Downes (n/a).
Player of the match: Nayef Aguerd.
Gordon debut fails to inspire goal-shy Magpies
Newcastle remain in a strong position to return to the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2002/03 – with fifth-placed Tottenham four points behind them – but they have now drawn as many Premier League games as they have won this season (10).
Even more concerning is the number of goals the Magpies are currently scoring in the league – just two in their last five games – and they were unable to find their form in the final third after Paqueta ended their remarkable run of clean sheets.
The match started in incredible fashion, with Willock drilling the ball past Lukasz Fabianski within seconds of kick-off, but VAR ruled the strike out after the ball was shown to have just gone out of play moments earlier.
But Newcastle shook off that blow to score again just 11 seconds after the restart, with Sean Longstaff threading an excellent ball through to Wilson, who was handed far too much space by West Ham’s three-man defence before slotting past Fabianski.
But West Ham’s goalkeeper was largely untroubled for the remaining 87 minutes, and the visitors hit back when Paqueta latched onto Declan Rice’s corner and turned the ball past Nick Pope, who missed the chance to become the first English ‘keeper to record seven consecutive Premier League clean sheets.
- Newcastle made just one change, with Saint-Maximin making his first Premier League start since August in place of the suspended Guimaraes
- Gordon started on the bench following his £45m move from Everton to Newcastle
- West Ham made five changes from their FA Cup win on Monday, with Fabianski, Coufal, Rice, Paqueta and Benrahma coming into the side
Nayef Aguerd missed a great chance to earn West Ham the lead just before half-time, and the home fans – perhaps still coming down from Tuesday’s celebrations – were noticeably subdued.
Anthony Gordon’s debut from the bench following his £45m move from Everton livened up the Newcastle fans and Allan Saint-Maximin – making his first Premier League start since August – and Wilson went close.
But ultimately West Ham were able to comfortably hold onto a draw that keeps them one point above the relegation zone and extends their unbeaten run to three matches in all competitions.
Howe: We gave Rice too much time
Eddie Howe admitted Newcastle were unable to sustain their blistering start and that Declan Rice was allowed “too much time” by his side.
“It was a tight game,” said Howe. “I thought it was a very bright start from us – quite a strange opening where we scored twice, but we didn’t quite carry that on for the rest of the first half.
“I thought in the second half we were very good – we just couldn’t break them down.
“West Ham have got very good players. I don’t think we were bad in the first half – we just didn’t keep up that momentum. It’s almost impossible to do that after the first five minutes – we were electric and the crowd were in the game.
“But I don’t quite think we stamped our authority on the game like we wanted to. We allowed Declan Rice too much time. You can’t do that – he’s a quality player – so I wanted our midfield to press higher.
“They scored – a poor goal from our very high standards – and in the second half we did everything but score.”
Lack of goals becoming an issue for Newcastle
Sky Sports’ Joe Shread:
It’s certainly no time to panic, but Howe is surely becoming increasingly aware of Newcastle’s profligacy in front of goal.
The Magpies’ numbers pretty much match their league position, with the fourth-placed side ranking fourth for expected goals and sixth for goals scored in the Premier League this season.
As a result, it’s unfair to criticise Newcastle’s attacking play too much, but it’s clear a lack of cutting edge in the final third has been hampering Howe’s team over the past six weeks.
Seven points and two goals in their last five league games is form Howe will be keen to improve as the battle for the Champions League places increases, although just the one defeat and 12 goals conceded in 21 games are unmatched in the top flight.
Howe said Newcastle missed the suspended Bruno Guimaraes – who he called a “difference-maker” – and admitted the “onus is on us to break teams down”.
Perhaps the addition of Gordon, who looked lively on his debut, and the return of record signing Alexander Isak, who missed the game with concussion, will relight the fire in Newcastle’s attack.
With a trip to his former club Bournemouth next weekend, followed by the visit of Liverpool and a cup final against Manchester United – which will see the return of Guimareas – before the end of the month, Howe will hope that proves to be the case.
Moyes: We were fantastic
West Ham manager David Moyes thought his side’s performance was “fantastic”, but was still unhappy with the way they started the game.
“I think we deserve a little bit of credit because we’ve not been playing so well, but I thought we played very well today,” said Moyes. “We deserve a lot of credit for coming here and putting on such a good performance.
“That first minute was expected by how Newcastle have been starting games so we’ve only got ourselves to blame. We got away with the first one, but you’d have hoped the linesman would have seen it earlier. We then gave them a goal 20, 30 seconds later.
“We responded absolutely fantastically. We played brilliantly well in the first half. We passed the ball well, we showed good control and made some decent opportunities ourselves. I’m really pleased with how the players played.
“It’s only a point but we take it. It was a difficult game for us and it keeps a bit of a run going for us. We’d have liked to have come here and won, but we were up against a team in really good form.”
West Ham generating momentum ahead of Chelsea showdown
West Ham have lost only two of their last eight games at home to Chelsea and the visit of their rivals next Saturday looks to be coming at the perfect time.
The Blues are languishing in ninth in the Premier League, with just two wins from their last 11 games in all competitions, and the Hammers finally appear to have turned the corner in what has been an underwhelming season.
Speaking after their draw at Newcastle, Jamie Redknapp told Sky Sports: “I think they can take a lot from the performance.
“Moyes will be looking at that squad now, looking at the players at his disposal, a little bit more quality in there as well and then back-up as well.
“Danny Ings is going to be a really good signing, he’ll get plenty of goals and they’ll be looking forward to the game against Chelsea next weekend. It’s the kind of game they live for.
“They will have been nervous before today’s game because it’s such a tough place to go. To go and pick up a really valuable point, it just keeps that run going.”
That run has seen West Ham lose just once in six matches in 2023 – a sign that Moyes is perhaps instilling the toughness in his side that powered their memorable 2021/22 campaign.
Newcastle are back on Sky Sports when Eddie Howe returns to former side Bournemouth next Saturday; kick-off 5.30pm. They’re also live on Sky Sports when Liverpool visit St James’ Park on Saturday February 18; kick-off 5.30pm.
West Ham face back-to-back London derbies and welcome Chelsea to the London Stadium on Saturday February 11 in the lunchtime game; kick-off 12.30pm. They then visit Tottenham live on Sky Sports on Sunday February 19; kick-off 4.30pm.