West Ham vs Newcastle preview: Rafael Benitez cautious over Premier League survival
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Last Updated: 02/03/19 4:26pm
Rafael Benitez has told his Newcastle players to stay calm as they approach the Premier League finishing line.
The Magpies are on 31 points, six clear of the bottom three, after back-to-back home victories over Huddersfield and Burnley.
Survival is in their own hands as they prepare for Saturday's trip to West Ham, but Newcastle boss Benitez said: "My message today to the players and to everyone is just still we have a lot of things to do, a lot of work to do.
"We have to stay calm, we have to approach every game with the same idea that we had from day one: one game at a time, the next one is the most important, the next one is a final for us.
"If we do that, if we get 38 points, 40 points, whatever, then we can keep pushing and enjoy it a little bit more if it's possible."
Manuel Pellegrini has refused to rule Jack Wilshere out of his plans this season. There are fears the former Arsenal midfielder's campaign could be over as he continues to battle ankle problems.
The 27-year-old has made just one brief substitute appearance since September and there is still no comeback in sight.
However, when asked if he could confirm Wilshere would be out for the season, Pellegrini said: "No, because I'm not a doctor.
"We must wait for Jack when he comes back and see how he feels. Those are all rumours, we cannot confirm 100 per cent.
"He's just been resting for a couple of months so it will not be easy for him to recover his best shape as a player, but the important thing for me is that he must feel that he is OK, and has no pain in his ankle. After that, we will see what happens with him."
Marko Arnautovic will be back in the West Ham squad after illness.
Full-backs Aaron Cresswell (toe) and Arthur Masuaku (knee) are also available after missing the 1-0 defeat at Manchester City through injury. Centre-back Fabian Balbuena is back in training after a knee injury but will not be involved.
Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey will miss the trip south after asking to play for the club's U23s as he returns from injury.
The England international, who is working his way back from a long-term thigh problem, finds himself behind Sean Longstaff, Isaac Hayden, Mohamed Diame and Ki Sung-yueng in the pecking order after sitting out since the beginning of January.
- West Ham, 3-0 winners against Newcastle in the reverse fixture, are looking to complete a league double over the Magpies for the first time since the 1998-99 season.
- Newcastle United are looking to win consecutive away Premier League matches against West Ham for the first time since September 2006.
- West Ham have lost just one of their last seven home Premier League games, and are unbeaten in their last four at the London Stadium (W2 D2).
- Newcastle United have won four of their last six Premier League games (D1 L1), as many as in their previous 22 combined this season (W4 D6 L12).
- No side has lost more Premier League away games in London than Newcastle (74, level with Everton).
- In all competitions, Newcastle have registered four victories by more than one goal during 2019 - one more than in the entirety of 2018 (3); the Magpies haven't won an away Premier League match by a margin of more than one goal since a 3-0 win at Hull City in January 2015.
- Only against Wigan (6) has West Ham's Javier Hernandez scored more Premier League goals than he has against Newcastle United (5).
Newcastle have turned the corner, they're quite entertaining with three up front. Almiron looks a proper player, really quick and lively.
From Benitez being a manager who makes sure they don't lose, he's now going out with Almiron, Rondon and Perez and can have a go at teams.
I'll go for a draw here, I don't see Newcastle losing this game.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (11/2 with Sky Bet)