Florian Lejeune

West Ham rides early goals to beat Newcastle

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  • Rice scores early header
  • Noble converts penalty
  • West Ham move 9th, four back of 7th

Declan Rice and Mark Noble scored first half goals to lead West Ham United to a 2-0 defeat of Newcastle United on Saturday at the London Stadium.

West Ham United has closed ground on Wolves in the race for 7th with the win.

Newcastle United remains six points clear of 18th place with nine matches to play.

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West Ham struck early through Rice, who lost Federico Fernandez while jockeying for position pre-corner and put a simple header past Martin Dubravka.

Ayoze Perez was offside for a 28th minute equalizer bid. Sean Longstaff then played a beautiful diagonal ball into the West Ham box to no avail.

West Ham earned a penalty, when Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was taken down in the box by Florian Lejeune. Noble went to the spot and finished well for 2-0.

Fabian Schar nearly turned a second chance off a corner kick into a goal in the fifth minute of first half stoppage, but it was blocked out for a corner and the Irons saw their lead into halftime.

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Perez’s shot across goal could’ve easily been 2-1, but it was too wayward to be a goal and too hard to meet a receiver.

Arthur Masuaku cued up Hernandez with a diagonal beauty, but the Mexican’s first touch wasn’t enough.

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Season Preview: Will internal turmoil bring Newcastle down?

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Newcastle at a glance:

Premier League (and old First Division) titles: 2 (last: 1959/60)

FA Cups: 5 (last: 1954/55)

League Cups: 0 (best finish: runners-up 1974/75)

FA Community Shield: 1 (1909/10, runners-up 5 times)

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Newcastle’s biggest enemy is itself, and this year might just be the year it brings them down for real.

Soccer’s Jerry Jones has taken flak for years as the Magpies slowly consume themselves from the inside out, yet Mike Ashley continues to trudge on stuck in his ways. No Premier League team would produce a bigger inferno upon relegation than Newcastle. Championship title winners just two years ago, Rafa Benitez has milked everything he can out of a paper-thin squad for the last two years, but if relegation becomes unavoidable, Newcastle’s biggest asset would most certainly walk, and the doom and gloom would spread like wildfire.

It’s somewhat surprpsing that relegation talk swirls after a 10th placed finish last year, but that’s the Benitez effect. The team continues to punch above its weight on paper, all thanks to their all-star manager. Yet the summer transfer window has been another one of frustration, and thus the fan unrest continues.

Can Benitez push the Magpies away from the bottom-tier maelstrom or will Newcastle be pulled into the unescapable cyclone?


Newcastle will finish away from the drop because…everything good Newcastle has stumbled upon the last two years has been attributable to Benitez. With the Spaniard around, most anything is possible. The defense is thin but talented, and the attack has promise. If Newcastle can avoid the injury bug, they can go places.

Newcastle will be relegated because…the squad is razor thin. Florian Lejeune is already out with an ACL tear, and if an injury leaves either Jamaal Lascelles or Martin Dubravka on the sidelines as well, the back line becomes swiss cheese. At the other end there’s a little more depth, but much of the creativity falls to Ayoze Perez, and an injury to the wrong place in that department could bring the team down as well. Mike Ashley hasn’t done enough this summer to instill confidence in fans.

Best possible XI:

———————Dubravka———————

——Yedlin—Lascelles—Schar——Dummett——

——Ritchie—Shelvey—Diame——Atsu——

—————Perez——————

—————Gayle——————

Transfers In: Yoshinori Muto ($12.4 million, FSV Mainz), Fabian Schar ($4.6 million, Deportivo La Coruna), Martin Dubravka ($4.6 million, Sparta Prague), Ki Sung-Yueng (Free, Swansea City), Kenedy (Loan, Chelsea).

Transfers Out: Aleksandar Mitrovic ($23.3 million, Fulham), Mikel Merino ($12 million, Real Sociedad), Chance Mbemba ($9.2 million, Porto), Matz Sels ($4.6 million, RC Strasbourg), Massadio Haidara (Free, Lens), Stuart Findlay (Free, Kilmarnock), Jack Colback (Loan, Nottingham Forest).

Ranking their offseason: C

Newcastle received nearly $25 million for Aleksandar Mitrovic from Fulham – a total that was basically a foregone conclusion for weeks, pending Newcastle securing his replacement in Muto – and promptly sat on it. While useful players have been brought in with Schar replacing the injured Lejeune and Dubravka likely to start in net, the team wasn’t necessarily improved in the transfer market, and the squad still has plenty of holes. If they go down, this transfer window will be largely viewed as a big reason why.

Star player: While Ayoze Perez is the lifeblood of the Newcastle attack, nobody is more important to this squad than Jamaal Lascelles. Newcastle resisted heavy interest for his services this summer, and they will be far better off for it. The 24-year-old has developed into one of the best central defenders in the Premier League, and was heavily considered for a spot in the England World Cup squad this summer. If anything happens to him, this squad will come crumbling to pieces, and he would likely leave if they are relegated.

Coach’s Corner: While Lascelles is the most valuable player, nobody is more important to this team than Rafa Benitez. Mike Ashley’s greatest accomplishment was convincing the Spaniard to commit to the club through the one season in the Championship, and it has paid off since. Still, Ashely does little to back his manager, and Benitez has not held back. After a 4-0 defeat to Braga in preseason, Benitez said, “The fans have to be concerned, we are concerned. I’m really worried.” Should the club misstep at all this season, Benitez would surely depart for a bigger club. He’s certainly earned the right.

PST Predicts: While much of this preview has been quite doom and gloom, Newcastle has enough prized possessions to stay up this season. The most concerning part of this offseason has to be the newly promoted clubs spending vast quantities of money to improve, but there should be enough teams worse than Newcastle to prevent the Magpies from suffering heartbreak. Just enough. They should finish around 15th in the table after quite the scare.

Newcastle linked with trio of players from three leagues

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Newcastle United could be on the verge of not just its first, but its second and third new names of the offseason.

That doesn’t count their purchase of Christian Atsu from Chelsea after the Ghanaian spent last season on loan at St. James Park.

So who are the names reportedly heading to Rafa Benitez in Northeast England?

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  • Cameroon striker Vincent Aboubakar could make his way to England after the Magpies reportedly offered him $3 million per year in wages. Rennes was also said to be interested in the Porto striker, who spent last season on loan at Besiktas (The Express).
  • The same report says Newcastle have triggered an $11 million release clause from Eibar defender Florian Lejeune. The 26-year-old is a center back who can also handled defensive midfielder, and was by far Eibar’s best player last season according to advanced stats site Squawka.
  • Torino midfielder Afriyie Acquah has said he’s got a move to England planned to the tune of “90 percent complete.” Fans are connecting the dots after Acquah followed Newcastle United on Twitter on Monday. 2017!

Lejeune is especially interesting given he signed for Manchester City but never made an appearance for them. Aboubakar has 57 caps with 17 goals for Cameroon, and is coming off his best club season since 2013. Acquah is a bit of an unknown at club level, and has 18 caps for Ghana.

Transfer rumor roundup: De Gea and Morata in swap, Salah deal reached

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With the Champions League final complete, the club season has officially come to a close. One more month remains until the transfer window officially opens, leaving us to dig through all the rumors until then.

The biggest rumor of Sunday morning saw The Times reporter Duncan Castles say that Manchester United’s priority this summer is to keep David De Gea, but they are resigned to the possibility of losing him, and therefore have price-tagged him at $85 million, which would be a world-record for a goalkeeper transfer fee.

Castles also reports that after losing the possibility of signing Antoine Griezmann, United values Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata highly as a replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With De Gea most likely to move to Real Madrid than anywhere else, the possibility of a swap deal remains. According to the report, Morata’s inclusion in a move for De Gea would for United discount the price by about 2/3, meaning Madrid would still need to throw in cash to complete the deal.


A few days ago, reports linked Roma winger Mohamed Salah with Liverpool. Those rumors are still at full strength as talks appear to be ongoing. According to Sky Italia, the clubs have come to an agreement on a fee of $45 million and the player’s agent has flown to discuss personal terms.

However, according to David Amoyal of GianlucaDiMarzio.com, the two sides are still in discussions for a fee, and Roma is hoping to secure a better deal. Despite the discrepancies in reporting, it still sounds like this is one of the stronger transfer rumors of the early summer, and Salah looks likely to pair up with Sadio Mane on the wings at Anfield.


Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has claimed he will fight for his place at the Emirates and will not leave the Gunners this summer. According to the man himself, he has been approached by a number of French clubs, most notably Marseille.

“I am not insensitive to the approaches of the French clubs and especially that of Marseille,” Giroud told French program Telefoot. “But my future is in the Premier League. I still have titles to win. After the FA Cup, we will go for the league title. That’s my goal.”

Giroud scored a hat-trick for France in their 5-0 friendly win over Paraguay on Friday.


According to the Newcastle Chronicle, Premier League newboys Newcastle are hoping to lure central defender Florian Lejeune from Eibar to the English top flight. The report states that Lejeune, a 26-year-old French international, has an $11.2 million release clause that Newcastle is willing to meet.

Newcastle had the joint-best defensive record in the Championship last season along with second-place Brighton, but are still young in central defense. Their four most-used central defenders last season in Jamal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark, Chancel Mbemba, and Grant Henley have all been major parts of relegated squads in the past.