West Ham United face a daunting trip to Tyneside to face high-flying Newcastle United in the Premier League this evening, with the contrasting fortunes between the respective clubs plain to see this season.
Around about this time last year, the Hammers were battling amongst the division’s elite for a second successive campaign, while also preparing for the knockout phase of the Europa League. Meanwhile, off the back of their Saudi-backed takeover, Newcastle were showing the first signs of a resurgence under Eddie Howe after spending the opening months of the campaign fearing relegation.
Fast track to the present and the tables have been turned, with Irons manager David Moyes in a perilous position after a stark decline which has left his side just one point and two places above the drop zone, while the Magpies have soared to the upper echelons of the Premier League and sit third after 20 matches, with just one defeat in the current top-flight campaign.
The 59-year-old will indeed be desperately searching for a remedy to cure West Ham’s present woes, and while Newcastle have swiftly emerged as a formidable force, optimism can be taken from the Hammers’ previous outing in the top flight, when Everton were defeated 2-0 at the London Stadium.
Courtesy of a brace from Jarrod Bowen, the east London outfit indeed sank the lowly Toffees and took a significant step away from immediate danger. The threat of relegation could be further dimmed if Howe’s side can be bested at St James’ Park for the first time this season.
In order to bypass the resolute Newcastle defence – the Toon have shipped just 11 league goals this term, the lowest in the top flight – Bowen must indeed take centre-stage and look to harness his rekindled goalscoring touch, providing the magic needed to unlock the sturdiest defence in the league.
The £60k-per-week machine has scored eight goals from 28 matches across all competitions, but only found the net four times in the Premier League. However, having also scored against Derby County in the FA Cup on Monday night, the 26-year-old boasts three goals from his past two appearances.
Following a remarkable league season on an individual basis in 2021/22, when Bowen scored 12 goals and set up another 12, Moyes needs him to once again bring that quality to the fore.
West Ham’s collective offensive drive has often been lacking this term, with only three teams scoring fewer Premier League goals, and Moyes will indeed be searching for the answer to pump fluidity and cohesion back into the fold.
The early signings of rekindling that former vigour are emerging, with Bowen seemingly returning to his free-flowing best, having started every league match so far in 2022/23.
His average Sofascore league rating of 6.88 in the current campaign is a considerable dip from the impressive 7.09 rating from last term, but his performances against Everton and Derby offer an indication that he is about to take flight.
Hailed as “unbelievable” by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp in the past, Bowen is serving as the catalyst for the Irons’ resurgence. Against a defence as miserly as Newcastle’s, he simply must start this evening if West Ham are to harbour any realistic hopes of inflicting a rare defeat on their high-flying hosts.
On current form, he might be one of the few players to strike genuine fear into the Magpies’ defence.