Presumably the reason that West Ham v Newcastle has been chosen for TV coverage is because the fixture marks the first clash between Slaven Bilic and Steve McClaren since the former triggered the latter’s sacking by guiding Croatia to a 3-2 win over England at Wembley in 2007.
Indeed, the whole thing feels like a set up for the former Three Lions boss: his team have fired three Premier League blanks in a row, they are up against a side that just thrashed Liverpool 3-0 away, and a defeat by a two-goal margin will plunge the Magpies below Sunderland at the very bottom.
However, McClaren revealed that he and Bilic are actually quite good buddies now, a relationship fortified by the Croatian coach using his time on a scouting trip to Wolfsburg in 2010/11 to seek out his Euro 2008 qualifying victim and get to know him a little.
The Newcastle boss can expect similar generosity from his adversary’s defence on the evidence of the campaign so far, as West Ham have conceded at least twice in their last three home games, so there won’t be a better chance for them to get their first away goal(s) under him.
Indeed, one of the visitors’ dormant attacking players is a perfect fit for Ladbrokes’ Sharpshooter offer, whereby if your first goalscorer selection breaks the deadlock in the opening 25 minutes, their odds will be doubled for stakes up to £25/€25. Click here for the T&Cs.
West Ham played five times in August and, on every occasion, whichever club were hosting found themselves 1-0 down, with the initial strike coming within 11 minutes in three of those instances.
The first-goalscorer frontrunners for Newcastle are Papiss Cisse at 13/2 and Ayoze Perez at 15/2, but the most enticing candidate is surely Florian Thauvin at 8/1, given that the recent recruit started the net-rippling – in the third minute no less – when they were last seen notching against Northampton.
A Frenchman representing the boys in black and white grabbed the opener in two of the previous three meetings between these sides, with Yohan Cabaye doing so at the Boleyn Ground in January 2014 and Moussa Sissoko taking his turn at St James’ Park four months ago.
Even if the Magpies assume a 1-0 lead as this column projects, it is no guarantee of victory against the club with the Premier League’s best goal-per-match rate this term, making Ladbrokes’ decision to boost the West Ham to win and both teams to score price from 3/1 to 4/1 very intriguing.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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