Jan 17, 2014, 8:17 PM EST
- Newcastle haven’t scored in last four versus West Ham.
- Magpies lead all-time series
- Andre Mariner’s your referee
It wasn’t that long ago that Andy Carroll was a Geordie boy living out his childhood dreams on the pitch for Newcastle United while getting into boatloads of trouble off the field (Watch at 10am ET on on NBC Sports Live Extra). On Saturday he’ll look to play the role of villain as his West Ham United club host the Magpies at Upton Park.
Carroll’s pulled the Hammers out of the drop zone for now and will attempt to avoid the fate that befell him as a 20-year-old striker at St. James Park, though the demotion to the Championship is what kickstarted his professional and international career as he scored 17 goals as the Magpies earned instant promotion one year later.
Of course the rest is history, a crazy money transfer to Liverpool after another outstanding half-season at SJP and on to West Ham on loan, where he reunited with Kevin Nolan and eventually found himself transferring to the London club. He was to be their savior, their marquee offseason signing.
But injury and the challenge of, as The Telegraph puts it so well, “not when but how he’d play football again.”
His return last week buoyed the Hammers to a 2-0 road win at Cardiff, the club’s first win away from home in the Premier League since an Oct. 6 triumph over Spurs.
Could Big Sam’s Hammers be ready to make a run toward the middle of the table? Well, the former Newcastle man will look into the other coach’s box and see a former West Ham manager aiming for a victory in Alan Pardew.
Newcastle has fallen a bit back toward the pack with consecutive losses but still are comfortably in the top half, closer to Europe (eight points away) than 10th place Hull City (10 points distance).
The Magpies have lost three-straight games, 1-0 at home versus Arsenal, 1-0 at West Brom and 2-0 to Manchester City in the Tiotegate.
West Ham and Newcastle have battled evenly in recent history aside from the Magpies 5-0 shellacking of the Hammers at St. James Park about this time in 2011. They drew earlier this year and, in fact, their last two games were scoreless draws.
This one seems destined to be anything but, as Newcastle is still missing top defenders Fabricio Coloccini (injury) and Mathier Debuchy (suspension) while West Ham will be without Kevin Nolan (suspension), Guy Demel (concussion) and perhaps James Collins (injury).
What They’re Saying
West Ham’s Carroll on his English World Cup dreams: “Of course the World Cup is massive and everybody wants to be in it. I’ve just got to perform well here to get into the squad and it’s in my head that there is a chance for me to go. I’d be devastated if I missed out to be honest.”
Newcastle gaffer Pardew on the match: “We’ve lost the last four and in three of them we’ve been very very good. You need the breaks to go your way sometimes. We obviously got a bad break in that game in terms of that decision but we are playing well. We need to take that to West Ham. They’re off the back of a win. They’ve got Big Andy probably coming back into the side. It’s now the time to turn the corner for West Ham so we’re coming up against a wall of new positivity and we’re going to have to try and get a victory.”
Pardew’s teams are usually well-prepared but rarely moreso when the confident manager is going up against one his former sides. Simply put, he carries a grudge. Will that move to the field without Debuchy and Coloccini? I tend to think so. Expect goals! Newcastle 3, West Ham 2 in a thriller.
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