YOUSEF HATEM (@yousef_1892) with your TF match report from the away end at London Stadium…
WEST HAM UNITED 1 (Zouma 40’); NEWCASTLE UNITED 5 (Wilson 6’ 46’, Joelinton 13’ 90’, Isak 82’)
West Ham: Fabianski, Kehrer (Coufal 63′), Zouma, Aguerd, Emerson, Soucek (Downes 63′), Rice, Bowen, Benrahma (Ings 63′), Paqueta, Antonio (Cornet 63′)
Newcastle: Pope, Trippier (Manquillo 87′), Botman, Schar, Burn (Targett 85′), Bruno Guimaraes, Longstaff, Joelinton, Murphy (Willock 64′), Saint-Maximin (Gordon 64′), Wilson (Isak 64′)
After the high of Sunday, there was always a risk that this would be the comedown, the hangover. Instead, after the Lord Mayor’s Show came an exceedingly pleasurable after-party. West Ham could not have been more generous hosts if they had presented Eddie Howe with a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite before kick-off and offered free unlimited narcotics to the travelling support. All night, the buffet in East London was open, and Newcastle ate heartily from it.
It was a weird evening, albeit one no less wonderful for all that weirdness. 5-1 flattered Newcastle – who were nothing special – but also, strangely, flattered the hosts too, who could not have complained if the scoreline had been even more one-sided. This was a game decidedly low on quality and bereft of a discernible shape, the eagerly anticipated midfield battle between Bruno Guimaraes and Declan Rice a practical irrelevance given the keenness of the West Ham defence to steal the show with a display so inept as to border on criminally negligent.
It could have turned out differently. Nick Pope’s post was hit inside the first minute. Sven Botman made a hash of some clearances and invited early pressure. Possession was given away cheaply and at will, and not only by the home side. And yet, within the first quarter of an hour, we found ourselves two goals to the good.
Callum WIlson, restored to the starting line-up, found himself completely unmarked in the centre of the goal to head home Allan Saint-Maximin’s cross. If the defending for the opener was bad enough, the second was laughable. Schär hoofed an innocuous long ball in the general direction of the West Ham goal. Joelinton, breaching a non-existent offside trap, his run tracked by nobody at all, rounded Fabianski to double the lead. Just 13 minutes in, playing poorly, and already two up.
And yet we continued to be sloppy, allowing West Ham to get back into the game with a howler of our own, Pope flapping helplessly at a corner to allow Kurt Zouma in to score and to make Geordie arses twitch just a little bit on the concourse. The general consensus over the half-time Bovril (other nostalgic beef stock drinks may be available) was that we’d been poor, but were lucky that West Ham had been even worse. Eddie Howe, for his part, had been uncharacteristically animated on the touchline, berating Schär furiously during the water break, and taking leave of his usual detached coolness. One suspects that his half-time team talk was an uncomfortable listen.
We did improve after the break – or, at least, became less profligate in possession. West Ham, meanwhile, somehow contrived to be even worse. Within the first few seconds of the restart, Aguerd dawdled on a pass from Fabianski, allowing Murphy to steal the ball and square it to Wilson who had a simple tap in.
Then, ten minutes from time, and seemingly not content with his defenders stealing the limelight, Fabianski decided to gift Newcastle a goal himself, rushing out to clear a long ball, missing it entirely, and allowing Isak – on for two-goal hero WIlson – an open goal. Joelinton added a fifth – the pick of the bunch – in stoppage time, with an angled drive into the bottom corner.
In amongst all of this, there were other chances – for Saint-Maximin, Murphy and Longstaff – as the West Ham goalmouth at times resembled a pinball machine. It really could have been more.
This was a very bad night for West Ham and their beleaguered manager. Not that the joyous, scarcely believing Newcastle fans were in charitable mood. For much of the second half, the away support gleefully speculated, loudly and in verse, as to whether Moyes would still be in gainful employment the next day, and exhorted him – amid uncomplimentary references to his dark past on Wearside – to cheer up. But there really was nothing, absolutely nothing, to cheer him here.
Less about West Ham, though. From a Newcastle perspective, the night was littered with positives to be taken, and not only the fact that this equalled our biggest win of the season. Two goals for Wilson – whose confidence and form had seemed to be in terminal decline. Two, also, for Joelinton – whose wastefulness in front of goal has been criticised so often this term. A man of the match display from Allan Saint-Maximin, who tormented West Ham throughout and managed, for once, to find a happy medium between trickery and substance.
A certain amount of pressure on the next two away games, both potentially tricky ones, has been relieved. We even managed to bring on over £130m of quality from the bench: Isak, Gordon and WIllock each making a difference when they were introduced. Above all, it was pleasing, frankly, to see Newcastle assume the role of flat-track bullies. So often, this season, we have controlled games only to refuse gifts being offered. This was different. We didn’t just beat West Ham – we absolutely pulverised them, mercilessly grinding their faces into the dirt, punishing their incompetence with goal, after goal, after goal.
A 5-1 away win in the Premier League, without even playing that well. Just let that sink in. These are heady times indeed on Tyneside. On to Brentford.