Unrest has blighted West Ham’s preparations for the new season, with fans and players exasperated by the lack of direction at the club.
That discontent has overshadowed what was an impressive end to the 2019/20 campaign, securing Premier League survival with some encouraging performances under David Moyes.
Led by Michail Antonio, the Hammers were a potent attacking threat in ‘Project Restart’, creating chances equating to an average of 1.73 xGF per game.
The Hammers displayed improvement defensively during that period too, allowing an average of 1.28 xGA per game despite facing the likes of Wolves, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United.
Michail Antonio’s incredible form post-lockdown was well-documented, scoring eight of West Ham’s 14 goals, but his underlying numbers during that period were outstanding.
Typically tireless, he averaged a staggering 0.83 non-penalty xG per average match across those nine matches.
It will be no surprise if he is troubling the goalkeeper again on Saturday evening.
Newcastle enter this campaign with some optimism following a busy week in the transfer market, securing Ryan Fraser, Callum Wilson and Jamal Lewis in recent days.
However, it may take much more to upgrade a team who, despite ending the season in the relative comfort of mid-table, ranked bottom of the Premier League on expected points (xP) in 2019/20.
Steve Bruce’s side posted shocking underlying metrics, averaging 1.07 xGF and 1.85 xGA per game.
An overperformance of around 12 goals in defence meant the Magpies were never in real danger of going down, but that process is unsustainable and requires major improvement. As a result, it’s no surprise to see Newcastle forecasted as a relegation candidate this season (37.6%).
West Ham could well take advantage of those numbers and pick up a victory here.
Despite the behind-the-scenes turmoil, we expect West Ham to return in good form and collect three points.
According to our model, adding Over 2.5 Goals and Michail Antonio to score anytime given his form at the end of last season creates some good value bets.
Either way, we expect the net to be rippling on a few occasions on Saturday.
* Prices on our snazzy new bet widget are bang up to date.
- All the latest football previews from across the English football and Europe are just a click away
- Placing bets is easier than ever with Paddy Power News’ live odds banners
- Paddy Power’s New Kit Hitlist: 5 alternative shirts for the new season
- EFL season preview: Paddy’s tips on who is going up and who is going down in each division
- Premier League predicted table: Infogol’s stats reveal winners and losers this season
- Premier League: Paddy’s Guide to the Biggest Games of the 2020/21 Season