It was the best the lads have played this season as they take a 0-2 lead into the half at London Stadium. The shell-shocked West Ham fans have seen their team all out of sorts from Newcastle’s set-pieces and counter-attacks.
The real story is that Newcastle should be up by at least four. Will it come back to haunt us?
In the 16th minute, Newcastle fashioned a brilliant free-kick routine, which ended with a Ciaran Clark header. Shelvey swung the free-kick out to a waiting Joelinton at the back post. The Brazilian headed it back across the front of goal as Ciaran Clark rose to bash it home with his head.
That is an element that Ciaran Clark can bring to this team. It’s the 30-year-old’s 9th goal for Newcastle.
It didn’t take long for another 30-year-old to get on the end of a training ground routine. This time it was a from a corner as Shelvey kicked it short to a waiting Allan Saint-Maximin. Allan passed it back to Jetro Willems, who lobbed the ball into the box. The West Ham defense were either asleep or captivated by the trickery, as Federico Fernandez headed the ball past a charging Roberto to make it 0-2.
Newcastle were up 0-2 in the first 22 minutes. However, it could have been 3 just a few minutes later as Allan Saint-Maximin was sent free from a West Ham set-piece. He ended up one-on-one with Roberto, but his shot hit the keeper’s feet.
The 22-year-old Frenchman was again one-on-one on Roberto from a Hayden pass later in the half. Allan again couldn’t get it past the West Ham keeper. He got the rebound from his first effort and passed it to an onrushing Miguel Almiron who couldn’t put it away either. The ball eventually made its way to Jonjo Shelvey whose shot went clanging off the bar.
West Ham forced Martin Dubravka into a couple of late saves and the big fear is that Newcastle have not put the Hammers away. It’s going to be a nervy second half for sure. The lads must hold strong. This is three points that we desperately need to keep.