Andy Carroll will be the star draw when West Ham United face Newcastle United at Upton Park on Saturday.
Sam Allardyce's West Ham (4-6-11) went without a Premier League win throughout a busy December to drop into relegation trouble at the foot of the table. However, the Hammers welcomed back big-money signing Carroll from an eight-month injury lay-off last week, and the England striker set up the second goal in a crucial 2-0 win over struggling Cardiff.
Carroll is expected to be available from the start when his former club, Newcastle, visit east London this weekend, and assistant manager Neil McDonald is glad to have the centre-forward back.
"It showed when he came on against Cardiff that he's a massive player for us," said McDonald, who took the club's pre-match press conference as Allardyce was busy 'wrapping up a deal'. "Whichever team you are, you have to have your best players and he's obviously one of ours.
"We need him back as quick as we can because he contributes so much. Holding the ball up, flicking the ball on, scoring goals, heading crosses in, inter-linking with people. His hold-up play's very good so that's what we're looking forward to seeing more often."
Newcastle (10-3-8) go into Saturday's game on the back of three straight defeats, while doubt grows over the future of creative midfielder Sylvain Marveaux at the club.
"First and foremost you have to show on the training ground that you are worthy of playing in this team or getting in this group," said Pardew when asked about the Frenchman. "And then we go from there. It is as simple as that. We haven't really seen Sammy (Ameobi) get a chance either in this recent run and he deserves a chance as much as Sylvain. There are still three or four players who can emerge and come forward.
"I have never, ever isolated anyone at this football club. And I never will, so everyone has a chance."
West Ham have injury doubts over Ravel Morrison (groin), Guy Demel (concussion), Joey O'Brien (knock) and James Collins (calf), while Winston Reid (ankle) and Ricardo vaz Te (shoulder) are out. Newcastle are missing Ryan Taylor (knee) and Fabio Coloccini (knee).
The Hammers haven't lost any of their last three matches against Newcastle, and have kept clean sheets in all of those games. However, the Magpies have a decent top-flight record at the Boleyn Ground, losing just one of their last seven games there in the Premier League.
A win for the hosts would be their first set of back-to-back wins in the Premier League since 2011. Allardyce's side have just two home wins at home all season, and - remarkably - are the only Premier League side yet to score a headed goal since the start of the campaign.
In all, 30 of Newcastle's last 33 Premier League goals have been scored by French players, but the club's top striker, Papiss Cisse, has just one goal in his last 23.
It was a goalless draw when these teams met at St James' Park back in August. Newcastle had 16 attempts but not a single one on target, while West Ham mustered just six shots in the whole 90 minutes.
- Sports & Recreation
- Newcastle United
- Premier League
- West Ham United
- Sam Allardyce
- Andy Carroll