Newcastle and West Ham aiming to boost European qualification hopes

Newcastle United host West Ham United on Saturday for a fixture which could have a significant bearing on their respective hopes of qualifying for Europe next season.

The Magpies are currently tenth in the table with ten games remaining, and must end the campaign with a flourish to have a chance of finishing any higher.

After ending last season by claiming a Champions League berth, Eddie Howe’s side have been hugely disappointing this time around.

Despite this, a victory at St James’ Park this weekend would put them one point behind West Ham with a game in hand, highlighting the importance of the fixture.

Online bookmakers rate them as the favourites to pick up three points and those odds will likely tempt punters looking for a value bet.

With some sportsbooks and casinos listed at offering bettors a no-deposit bonus on registration, some operators may be inundated with wagers on Newcastle this weekend.

Although their away form has been poor, a record of three defeats in 14 home matches has kept them in contention for European qualification.

Howe still has several injury issues to contend with, although the return of Harvey Barnes, Tino Livramento and Kieran Trippier will boost his options.

By contrast, West Ham manager David Moyes has almost a full squad to choose from, with Emerson Palmieri and Maxwel Cornet the only doubts.

The two sides played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the London Stadium earlier in the season, with Mohammed Kudus scoring an 89th-minute equaliser to deny Newcastle victory.

Tomas Soucek’s eighth-minute opener put the Hammers in front, but Alexander Isak netted twice after the break to turn the game on its head.

However, West Ham dug deep to claim a point and almost snatched the win. Jarrod Bowen’s shot was saved by Nick Pope and Said Benrahma was unable to convert the rebound.

Newcastle will be confident they can set the record straight this weekend given their impressive head-to-head record against West Ham.

They have been particularly dominant at St James Park since the turn of the century, losing just three times on home soil against the London outfit.

West Ham’s most recent success at Newcastle was a 4-2 victory in August 2021 and a repeat of that performance would boost their hopes of European qualification.

Although the Hammers are still in the Europa League, they face a tough task to make any further progress after being paired with Bayer Leverkusen in the quarter-finals.

Moyes will undoubtedly be focused on guiding West Ham back into Europe via their league position and a positive result at Newcastle would aid their cause.

With Brighton & Hove Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea also in the mix, neither side can afford to slip-up this weekend.

There is arguably more pressure on West Ham heading into the match given that all of the teams directly behind them have at least one game in hand.

Their run-in is also tough, with the schedule including fixtures against Tottenham Hotspur (H), Wolves (A), Liverpool (H), Chelsea (A) and Manchester City (A).

Newcastle’s remaining matches look easier on paper, although it is worth noting that five of their last nine games are away from home.

On that basis, the importance of this weekend’s fixture cannot be overstated and fans will likely be treated to another close encounter.

Odds of 13/4 for the game to finish as a draw look tempting, while backing a 3-3 draw at 40/1 may give punters an entertaining run for their money.

Newcastle and West Ham aiming to boost European qualification hopes

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