Match Preview: Newcastle United vs West Ham United

West Ham United will be looking to win just their fourth opening day fixture in the last ten years when they take on Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Sunday.

The Hammers bounced from relegation to the Europa League last season as they finished sixth in the Premier League.

For Newcastle and manager Steve Bruce they will both be looking to improve on their 12th placed finish.

When it comes to improving their squads during the off-season both sides have made just one signing with the Hammers bringing in goalkeeper Alphonso Areola from PSG on loan, whilst the Magpies have brought in Joe Willock on a permanent basis from Arsenal.

Following a successful loan spell, Willock was announced on Friday evening as a Newcastle player on a six year deal for fee in the region of £25m.

The 21 year-old ended last season with seven goals in seven games, proving that getting his signature over the summer was crucial.

Pre-season is done and dusted for both sides with the Hammers unbeaten in their seven games played including a 6-2 win over Celtic.

For Newcastle they head into the season with just one loss in their preparations for the new season picking up wins against Norwich, Burton and Doncaster but drawing against Rotherham and losing to York City.

West Ham winger Jarrod Bowen who was a key part of last years season of success knows that the momentum the Irons had at the end of the last campaign can carry over to the new one.

“We’ll treat it just like another game,” Bowen told WHU.com

“Obviously, it’s the first game of the season and we want to get off on the right foot, but with what we did last season, we want to carry that form into the start of the season.

“It was obviously an unbelievable season for us to get 65 points and European football here. There was even talk at one stage about getting into the Champions League, which is a remarkable achievement for us coming from avoiding relegation the previous year.”

When it comes to injuries, West Ham will be missing Angelo Ogbonna which means that the likely centre back combination will be Craig Dawson and Issa Diop.

Said Benrahma is likely to start after having a positive pre season himself after setting up both goals in the 2-0 win over Atalanta in the Betway Cup.

Depth in the squad is a massive issue for the Hammers but despite this David Moyes knows that his team have the determination to once again finish in the European spots.

“We’re going to try to go out and play well and score goals, and with European football too there’s a big excitement about it. I’m pleased about that,” Moyes added.

“I don’t see any reason why we can’t do it again and we’ll work very hard to try and achieve it. The players were terrific last season and we had a great year, but that’s gone, it’s in the past now, and we’re going to try to make the most of this one.”