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Two clubs in perennial disarray meet on Saturday | Alex Pantling/Getty Images

West Ham and Newcastle begin their 2020/21 Premier League campaigns when they meet at London Stadium on Saturday night.

The two sides have plenty in common: unpopular owners, loyal and disgruntled fanbases, underachievement on the pitch and managed by two perceived ‘dinosaurs’ who have actually done quietly convincing jobs under difficult circumstances.

The sides drew 2-2 in JulyThe sides drew 2-2 in July | Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

The Hammers have achieved the impressive feat of being in turmoil before a ball has been kicked. The sale of youngster Grady Diangana to West Brom went down badly with supporters, with promises that the funds would be reinvested in players yet to come to fruition. Despite ending last season impressively, David Moyes is already a man under pressure.

Newcastle’s summer has been dominated by the failed takeover bid from Saudi Arabia and the realisation that the unloved Mike Ashley remains in charge. However, in a shocking outbreak of competence, they have made a string of signings to strengthen their squad. Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser have joined from relegated Bournemouth, Jeff Hendrick has signed on a free from Burnley while the signature of Norwich full back Jamal Lewis seems a coup.

BREAKING: Callum Wilson has joined Newcastle United from Bournemouth for £20million

— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) September 7, 2020

With both clubs tipped to struggle in the wrong half of the Premier League table, three points on Saturday could prove imperative come season’s end.

When Is Kick Off? Saturday 12 September
What Time Is Kick Off? 20:00 (BST)
Where Is it Played? London Stadium
TV Channel/Live Stream? Sky Sports Premier League (UK), fuboTV (US)
Referee? Stuart Atwell

Instrumental in the Hammers’ survival last season, midfielder Tomas Soucek is a doubt for Saturday’s game. The Czech Republic international missed his country’s match with Scotland on Monday after a team masseur tested positive for Covid-19.

With no new signings to integrate, the Scot will stick with some variation of the team that avoided relegation last term.

Callum Wilson, Jamal Lewis & Jeff Hendrick all set to make their Newcastle debuts at West Ham on Saturday. Ryan Fraser training all week but is doubtful as we stand having not played since March #NUFC

— Keith Downie (@SkySports_Keith) September 9, 2020

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce will hope to include his quartet of signings in Saturday’s squad. Their availability is as much necessity as desire – the Toon have already been hit by injuries.

Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and Dwight Gayle are out for months, while Fabian Schar has still not fully recovered from a shoulder operation. Matty Longstaff is also out with a thigh problem.

West Ham: Fabianski; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Noble; Fornals, Bowen, Yarmolenko; Antonio.

Newcastle: Darlow; Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Lewis; Hayden, Sean Longstaff; Hendrick, Almiron, Saint-Maximin; Wilson.

Both clubs suffered embarrassing defeats in pre-season.

West Ham started pre-season confidently, thrashing both Ipswich and Wycombe on the same day before edging past Championship promotion favourites Brentford 2-1. However, any optimism was punctured by the 5-3 defeat to Bournemouth last weekend. Clips of the Hammers’ comical defending did the rounds on social media, which has not fuelled confidence ahead of the new season.

Sebastien Haller, Jack Simpson, Jefferson LermaWest Ham suffered an embarrassing defeat to Bournemouth | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Newcastle were smashed 5-1 by local rivals Middlesbrough. This was followed by 1-0 defeat to Stoke, who narrowly avoided relegation to League One last season. However, the Geordie faithful will hope their new summer signings will strengthen their side for the Premier League fixtures ahead.

Here is how each side has fared in their last five competitive fixtures.

West Ham

West Ham 1-1 Aston Villa (26/7)
Manchester United 1-1 West Ham (22/7)
West Ham 3-1 Watford (17/7)
Norwich 0-4 West Ham (11/7)
West Ham 0-1 Burnley (8/7)

Newcastle

Newcastle 1-3 Liverpool (26/7)
Brighton 0-0 Newcastle (20/7)
Newcastle 1-3 Tottenham (15/7)
Watford 2-1 Newcastle (11/7)
Manchester City 5-0 Newcastle (8/7)

West Ham have a tough set of opening fixturesWest Ham have a tough set of opening fixtures | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Glancing through the opening fixtures, this seems a must-not-lose game for West Ham. After Saturday’s match, they face six of last season’s top eight before Halloween, meaning a positive result against Bruce’s men is crucial.

However, it is the visitors that enter Saturday’s game in better shape. The new signings will undoubtedly lift the squad and Wilson has an excellent scoring record against West Ham.

While the Irons improved after the restart, any sense of optimism has vanished after a turbulent summer. The club have failed to strengthen their defence in the transfer window and hopes seem reliant on Antonio maintaining his recent form.

Recent meetings between the two have resulted in a high proportion of away wins, and Saturday’s match may further increase the restlessness of Hammers fans.

Prediction: West Ham 1-2 Newcastle



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