Bilic Future Uncertain After Newcastle Mauling
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 27 Aug 2017 13:37:00
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Despite a win over Cheltenham Town in midweek, West Ham United are still looking for their first Premier League victory after a 3-0 defeat to nearly-promoted Newcastle United at St James' Park on Saturday afternoon.

Two changes were made to the team that played at St Mary's last weekend, as James Collins kept his place from the Carabao Cup tie on Wednesday, replacing José Fonte in defence, while Edimilson Fernandes came in for the suspended Marko Arnautović.

There was a welcome sight on the bench though, as Slaven Bilic named Manuel Lanzini amongst the substitutes, after he suffered an injury on the pre-season tour of Austria.

Both teams were without a point going into this contest but the Magpies had been dumped out of the first domestic cup competition and wanted to get their first victory since claiming the Sky Bet Championship last season. Although they created some good openings, nothing they tried really troubled Joe Hart in the Hammers' goal.

The Irons had a great chance just before the half-hour mark, but André Ayew sent a curling effort well wide of Rob Elliot's goal.

On the half hour mark, a great team move involving captain Mark Noble and Ayew set up Aaron Cresswell but he was unable to take advantage, sending his half volley inches wide.

Nothing was going to plan for the visitors, after the game was held up for several minutes following setbacks for both Pablo Zabaleta and Ayew earlier in the match and they went behind on 36 minutes.

A defensive mistake from Declan Rice set summer signing Christian Atsu on his way and he found himself with only Hart to beat but, unselfishly, he set up recent acquisition Joselu to slot home.

When referee Neil Swarbrick blew the half-time whistle, it was a familiar feeling for the visitors at the break.

Although Bilic introduced Lanzini in place of Rice during the interval, Rafael Benitez' men kept the pressure on for large parts of the second-half.

On 52 minutes, Michail Antonio linked up well with Cresswell, who had his second effort parried by Elliot and unfortunately, the rebound came out too quickly for Javier Hernandez to get a telling touch and instead, his effort was cleared off the line by Ciaran Clark.

The home side's best chance for a second came after an hour when Ayoze Pérez combined well with Matt Ritchie and the striker tried his luck with a shot from outside the box but Hart made a crucial save. Moments later, Zabaleta cleared another Joselu effort off the line.

With the hosts playing as they were, it was only a matter of time before a second goal came along and ten minutes later, you can guess what happened.

Ritchie has been a threat throughout his career and that proved to be the case again here, as his delightful cross picked out Clark who headed past Hart.

On 70 minutes, the Irons made a double change, replacing the skipper with Diafra Sakho and Ayew with Cheikhou Kouyaté.

The home side kept the pressure on and only a crucial block from Angelo Ogbonna denied Ritchie a third goal.

The hosts didn't have to wait too long for that third, as with less than five minutes of normal time to play, "that man" Ritchie was causing problems again, as he played in substitute Aleksandar Mitrović, who rounded Hart with ease.

After four stoppage time minutes had been added, the whistle was finally blown ending another disappointing day for the East Londoners.

Later on Saturday evening, Sky Sports News reported that Bilic's future will be "under review"

West Ham finally host their first home game after the International break, when they face another newly-promoted side when David Wagner's Huddersfield Town arrive for a clash under the lights on Monday September 11.

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