Newcastle United vs West Ham United: pre-match analysis

This Saturday, West Ham travel to Newcastle in what is an important game for both sides but for very different reasons.

With only six points between bottom of the league Southampton and 13th-place Aston Villa, West Ham will be keen to build on their latest Premier League victory against Everton and escape this relegation dog fight that is developing.

Embed from Getty Images

At the other end of the table, Newcastle will be keen to establish their position in the top four as Tottenham, currently fifth, creep closer. With three draws in their last four games, Newcastle will be looking to get back to winning ways whilst maintaining their excellent defensive record, the most clean sheets in Europe’s top five leagues this season.

West Ham’s win vs Everton

West Ham ended a winless run against Everton a fortnight ago as they ran out 2-0 victors. Against the Toffess it was clear that the new signings are starting to settle and build relationships on the pitch. Paqueta and Rice combined well in the middle as they helped to sustain the early pressure by keeping possession, but also making sure it wasn’t meaningless possession as they constantly looked to progress the ball and break into Everton’s defensive third.

Said Benrahma and Emerson’s relationship was clear for all to see as their off the ball movement complimented each other nicely. Often Emerson would overlap and hold the width on the left-hand side which, as a result, then freed Benrahma to roam inside. This, also, provided Everton with numerous problems as West Ham had a constant progressive option when Benrahma drifted inside.

Embed from Getty Images

The performance of Nayef Aguerd was one of the best individual efforts so far this season. Excellent on the ball and even better off the ball, his recovery pace helped to make up for Angelo Ogbonna’s lack of pace and to deal with the threat in behind of Demarai Gray and Calvert-Lewin. Meanwhile his consistently accurate passing helped West Ham play through Everton’s press with ease.

Stylistically, many fans drew similarities to West Ham's former approach of sitting deep and hitting on the counter and whilst that was the case throughout the second half, the first half was a different story. The Hammers controlled the tempo and posed the greatest threat in possession, whilst out of possession they sat in a compact 5-2-3 mid-block which nullified the majority of Everton’s threat.

As previously mentioned, Nayef Aguerd and Kurt Zouma’s recovery pace were big factors in the success of this approach as it allowed them to deal with the threat in behind. The compact approach also resulted in Everton struggling to progress the ball through the central areas, forcing them wide and into less dangerous zones. When Everton went wide this would lead to an intense press as the two wide players would look to shut out the inside and forward options, forcing Everton backwards.

Newcastle Utd: Tactical Analysis

Newcastle’s style

The current Newcastle side bears a major resemblance to West Ham’s 2020/21 team, but with a lot more technical security. Their high energy, wing-focused football uses off-the-ball movement to disrupt the opposition's defensive structure. Eddie Howe also demands that his players win second balls and regain possession high up the pitch.

The off-the-ball movement of Miguel Almiron and Callum Wilson is similar to that of Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio, as they move fluidly in transition and rotate well in settled possession. One thing that is different however, is Howe’s huge emphasis on pressing and suffocating teams high up the pitch. This creates chances in dangerous positions for, as soon as they regain possession, they often find themselves in the opposition's final third/half.

In Possession

Newcastle’s in possession shape changes dependant on the third they are in. In their defensive third and in the build-up phase they are in a 4-3-3. On the defensive line, Kieran Trippier and Dan Burn move wide and look to stretch the opposition's wide players; this gives the #8 space in the half spaces to drop into, helping the build-up to remain fluid.

In midfield, Bruno Guimaraes - who will be absent this weekend - acts as the team's quarterback as he often looks to control the tempo and be the deeper-lying playmaker, while the ball-side #8 will often drop deep to disrupt the opposition's press and create space for others to roam into.

In the final third, Newcastle switch to a 3-2-5. Dan Burn holds and forms a back three alongside Sven Botman and Fabian Schar, although he can venture forward at times, and Kieran Trippier moves forward into, what is usually, a right-wing position to hold the width. This allows Almiron to roam inside. The left #8 will often move wider and support the left winger, but the right #8 usually sits slightly deeper and makes late runs into the box looking to disrupt the opposition's settled defence and get onto second balls.

Guimaraes will usually drop between the opposition's attack and midfield lines as this gives him space to break the opposition's lines. Wilson often roams around the penalty box as he looks to link play, as well as being a threat in front of goal.

As you can see in the clip above, Trippier holds the width which keeps Leicester’s full back wide and frees Almiron to drift inside. He then plays a onw-two with Bruno who is waiting on the edge of the box in the "quarterback" role I previously mentioned. This position means he is dropped off from the lines of pressure and has time, although he doesn’t use it in this clip, to receive the ball and play that penetrative pass.

Almiron’s run between full back and centre back also makes it very difficult to defend as he has the momentum and can therefore change direction quickly, often making defenders scared to put a foot in.

In this clip you see how they overload the left hand-side and by doing so Newcastle draw out Forest’s ball-side centre back which then frees the passing lane into Callum Wilson. Wilson’s actually underperforming according to his xG so far this season, however, his record against West Ham just proves how efficient he can be in front of goal.

In transition, Newcastle look to disrupt the opposition’s defence by committing numbers forward and making forward runs in behind the defence. This not only disrupts the already-disjointed defensive structure, but it also creates hesitance in defenders' minds, not only helping the ball-carrier when he’s one-on-one dribbling but also creating a passing angle for the ball-carrier.

Out of Possession

Newcastle’s 3-2-5 also means they have a lot of players local to the ball should the opposition regain possession. Newcastle’s counter press makes it incredibly difficult for sides to settle in possession as they often look to swarm the ball and overwhelm the opposition player.

Here’s an example against Chelsea. The clip starts with a goal kick to Chelsa and Newcastle’s front 3 are all very high on the edge of the 18-yard box. When Thiago Silva receives the pass, he opens his body up and feints as if he is going left which slightly shifts Newcastle’s press, however that didn’t have a negative impact. As he plays a clipped ball out to Azpilicueta, Joelinton angles his pressure, restricting Azpilicueta from playing inside to Kovacic, who is being man marked by Willock. This, as a result, leaves him with only one forward option, that being the right winger, Gallagher, who is also being man-marked by the on rushing Dan Burn.

In this specific image we can see just how tight Newcastle are to the Chelsea players, as Conor Gallagher is left with no free option because Newcastle have overloaded the ball-side.

However, their press can also be flawed sometimes as seen against Arsenal. Against the Gunners they looked to go man-to-man in the first phase of the press, with the main goal being making it difficult for Arsenal to build out from the back. There were a few occasions, however, when Newcastle’s front three would press and the midfield were not in sync, which gave Arsenal’s defensive midfielder space between the lines to receive and progress the play.

The man-to-man nature of their press could also suit West Ham, though. If Antonio drops deep and drags a centre back with him, it would afford Bowen a lot of space in behind their midfield or defence. This movement also occurred in the Arsenal game as Eddie Nketiah would drag a centre back deep which resulted in Bukayo Saka being given space to carry into. His role is similar to the role Bowen was deployed in last seaso,n so Moyes can trust that he will do it to a high level. The on the ball composure of Aguerd, Ogbonna and Declan Rice could also be key to negating the first phase of Newcastle’s intense press.

Once Newcastle settle out of possession, they become a very hard side to break down. They usually settle into a 4-2-3-1 with their left centre midfielder moving into the #10 position and the right centre midfielder moving deeper into a double pivot alongside Guimaraes. This makes it incredibly difficult for the opposition to progress as it eliminates the space between the midfield and defensive lines. while also having a player directly responsible for pressing and marking the opposition’s defensive midfielder.

Newcastle’s back four also move into a very narrow unit as they actually look to invite the opposition to cross. The reason for this is that three of their four defenders are 6'2"-plus and Nick Pope is also one of the best in world football at claiming crosses, virtually eliminating any of the opposition's aerial threat in the box.


Newcastle will pose a big test for West Ham. Their man-to-man press, when it’s executed well, would cause even the best of sides a lot of issues so the Hammers will have to be at their very best. The Mags' ability to win second balls whilst also having the technical security to retain possession in dangerous positions is a huge asset and one that will demand a very high level of West Ham on the ball. For this reason alone, I’d personally start Paqueta and Rice alongside each other.

I think the chances of West Ham walking away with all three points are slim. However, with the recent confidence boost provided by the win against Everton and the development of on-pitch relationships that is seemingly occurring, there is still a chance.

If Antonio can draw out his marker and win the flick ons then Bowen could be left with acres of space to run into. I also think it’s a game that will see Pablo Fornals return on the left as his defensive contributions could be a huge factor in the result, as our best chance of getting something from the game is reliant on us being able to limit Newcastle’s threat on their right-hand side.

* Like to share your thoughts on this article? Please visit the KUMB Forum to leave a comment.

* Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the highlighted author/s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official policy or position of

More Opinion