Newcastle United kicked off the 2020/21 Premier League season with a convincing 0-2 win over West Ham United at the London Stadium, thanks to goals from new signings Callum Wilson and Jeff Hendrick.
Heading into Saturday night’s game, the Magpies hadn’t won an opening day fixture since the 2012/13 season, having drawn one and lost the rest since.
This very same clash last season saw Newcastle win a 2-3 thriller, when Allan Saint-Maximin and Jonjo Shelvey ran riot. Whilst the reverse fixture at St James’ Park towards the end of the season saw a back and forth game end in a 2-2 draw.
Steve Bruce handed 3 recent signings their debut in the starting XI, with Jamal Lewis, Jeff Hendrick, and Callum Wilson each finding their way into Bruce’s 4-4-2 formation. Interesting omissions were Sean Longstaff, as it’s believed he will be further up field for the upcoming season, and Miguel Almiron, one of the more gifted players in a black and white shirt.
Angelo Ogbonna produced the closest attempt of the first half, with the Italian centre back beating Andy Carroll in the air and almost giving the hosts the lead. But his attempt deflected off of the crossbar.
But it was the visitors who broke the deadlock early in the 2nd half, as new arrival Wilson poached onto a cross from Javier Manquillo (with a controlled touch and flick from Hendrick) and finally beat Fabianski to make it 1-0.
Wilson has been exuding confidence all night, as he continued his fine form against West Ham: the 28 year old made it 8 goals in his last 10 Premier League matches against the Hammers for both Bournemouth and now Newcastle.
Sebastien Haller looked to have levelled the game up for his team, but a goal line clearance from Hendrick drew goals for an intentional hand ball, which referee Stuart Attwell dimissed.
The North East outfit then doubled their lead, with substitute Miguel Almiron teeing up Hendrick to find the very roof of the net: an instant impact from the Paraguayan, a wonderful way to cap off a debut for the Irishman, and a dream start for Steve Bruce’s side holding on to secure all 3 points.
Of Newcastle’s new arrivals that appeared, each made strong individual impressions: the aforementioned Wilson and Hendrick goals secured all 3 points, whilst Jamal Lewis looked impressive as both an attacking and defensive fullback. Rightfully justifying the hype and interest surrounding the ex-Norwich defender.
The pairing of Lewis and Saint-Maximin on the left flank could be one of the most exciting and dangerous in the entire division, with perhaps only Man City, Liverpool, and Chelsea being able to boast a more perfect pairing.
Newcastle will be looking to capitalise on tomight’s performance as they host Blackburn Rovers in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night. It’s incredibly likely we see the competitive debuts of both goalkeeper Mark Gillespie and midfielder Ryan Fraser in the black and white stripes.
For David Moyes and West Ham however, things only get more difficult in September and heading into October: Charlton in the Cup is followed on by consecutive league games against Arsenal, Wolves, Leicester, Spurs, Man City, and Liverpool. There’s a strong possibility West Ham go the entire first 2 months of the season without recording a single win.