The 2020/21 Premier League season began on 12th September 2020, with the new campaign beginning behind closed doors, with West Brom, Leeds and Fulham returning to England's top-flight. We will be providing match reports from select Premier League games throughout the season as the Covid-era of football continues. All aboard.
2020/21 Season Match Report (GW1): West Ham 0-2 Newcastle
The last game of the day during the Premier League's return to action on September 12th 2020 saw West Ham host Newcastle at the London Stadium. The game, in the flow of being an opening day encounter, started quickly with Newcastle starting the brighter of the sides.
Federico Fernandez had the first chance of note, flicking on a Jonjo Shelvey corner which was smothered by Lukasz Fabianski. Angelo Ogbonna then hit the top of the cross-bar from a dead ball that floated towards the edge of the box, and then the first-half was dominated by Newcastle aggression with Callum Wilson having a couple of half-chances from drilled crosses into the area - the visiting side showing like they're up for their challenge to the capital.
The turn of the half-hour mark saw West Ham go close with two chances - first, when Michail Antonio cut inside and hit a low strike that was collected well by Karl Darlow, before Pablo Fornals followed in Ogbonna's shoes when the left-midfielder flashed a shot on to the top of the bar.
The visiting Magpies hit West Ham on the counter when a loose pass freed Allan Saint-Maximin to run through one-on-one, with the pacey Ryan Fredericks doing brilliantly to recover and deny a goal scoring opportunity.
The half-time whistle was called are Declan Rice fell awkwardly with the game goalless, though this isn't a 0-0 game in truth. A very entertaining first-half, just no goals to show for a good effort by both sides.
The second-half took a while to regain some its steam, with Newcastle once again coming out the stronger of the sides and this effort by Steve Bruce's side was rewarded on the 56th minute when Javier Manquillo's cross on the right-flank was deflected into the air and nodded goal bound by Jeff Hendrick. The Irishman's flick was ideal for Callum Wilson to stab home a Premier League goal on his debut from close range for the opening goal of the game.
Newcastle continued to threaten and in the 73rd minute should have added a second when Manquillo's cross from the right wasn' good enough to meet a free Wilson six-yards-out from goal, with the clearance falling to Saint-Maximin at the edge of the box, with a spinning shot flashing over the bar.
With West Ham fading, it was Newcastle's substitute Miguel Almiron that carved out the deciding moment of the game in the 86th minute when the Paraguay international wriggled around opposing defenders before being able to turn at the edge of the box, picking out Jeff Hendrick (also on his debut) who took one touch and smashed a fierce strike into the roof of the net to double Newcastle's lead.
Almiron, lively until the end ran through in the third minute of extra-time, raced through one-on-one, with his eventual shot half-blocked and cleared away for the corner. The game ended with a quiet London Stadium, a fitting end considering some of the uproar given The Hammers pre-season.
Man of the Match: Andy Carroll (Newcastle)
There were goals from Callum Wilson and Jeff Hendrick on their debuts, but it was Andy Carroll who stole the show. The former West Ham player was paired with Wilson in attack and played just behind the speedster. Carroll won absolutely everything in the air at both ends of the pitch, ran his heart out, combined well with the ball in the air and at his feet all evening, and was the perfect enabler for Wilson and Hendrick to shine on his debut.
Considering I wasn't a big fan of Carroll returning to the club, given that at the time it showed a lack of ambition for the club, the Forward really proved his doubters wrong in a superb 'big man' performance for his boyhood club.
Insight and Analysis:
The first-half of this encounter, as a Newcastle fan, gave me a slight buzz - an excitement that I've not felt in a very, very long time. It might be beause I'm dead inside about the club's fortunes and with all things Premier League, or it might be because my beloved Magpies actually looked threatening in attack.
Andy Carroll and Callum Wilson linked really well and it was so good to see Wilson, on his debut for the club, scoring the traditional 'little man' poachers goal. Hendrick's goal the the more impressive and was the icing on the cake of a great performance for Newcastle's new signings.
I'm thrilled to have watched a team with some form of attacking impotus that could have added two or three more goals. West Ham left big gaps in midfield to exploit and couldn't get to grips with a movitated away side that constantly looked to give the ball to Saint-Maximin and Manquillo on the flanks.
As for West Ham, I give David Moyes until November when the board make the decision and decide to roll the dice on another Manager. It's nothing against Moyes (I think), more on the lack of patience that the controlling Owners at the club have - especially as the likes of Eddie Howe are in the market and might becoming available sooner rather than later.
Venue: London Stadium
West Ham United:
Manager: David Moyes
GK: L. Fabianski
DEF: R. Fredericks
DEF: I. Diop
DEF: G. Ogbonna
DEF: A. Cresswell
MID: T. Soucek
MID: D. Rice
MID: J. Bowen (Anderson 89')
MID: M. Noble (Yarmolenko 67')
MID: P. Fornals (Haller 67')
FOR: M. Antonio
Balbuena, Yarmolenko, Felipe Anderson, Lanzini, Haller, Johnson, Randolph
Manager: Steve Bruce
GK: K. Darlow
DEF: J. Manquillo
DEF: J. Lascelles
DEF: F. Fernández
DEF: J. Lewis
MID: A. Saint-Maximin (Joelinton 75')
MID: J. Shelvey
MID: I. Hayden
MID: J. Hendrick
FOR: C. Wilson (Almiron 85')
FOR: A. Carroll (Longstaff 88')
Joelinton, Ritchie, Krafth, Fraser, Almirón, Gillespie, S. Longstaff
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