Watching Sam Allardyce accuse a journalist of being insulting when using the term “dip in form” rather than “dip in results” indicated, to me anyway, that the club is a far cry from the one we were so disillusioned with just a few months back.

Most won’t have read much in to it – it was just Big Sam being a the bloody nuisance that he enjoys being from time to time. But, if you read deeper in to it, you’ll find the purpose behind his comments.

We are not suffering a dip in form and therefore must make it known to our opponents/rivals that we are not where we are in the league just because we’ve been punching above our weight and expect to slip back down to mid-table mediocrity any minute now. What Allardyce was getting at is that while our performances have pretty much been the same throughout, we’ve just not enjoyed the same return, with many different factors contributing to that.

It was a way for Allardyce to say: “Don’t think we’re in the top six by luck. We’re here to stay and you’re going to have to be bloody good to make sure we’re not between now and May.”

I like that. It shows our fighting spirit. Our ambition. Our belief. Our determination to stay where we are. An indication of how far we’ve come in just a few months. But Allardyce’s clever choice of words may mean nothing if we don’t continue our run of good performances against a resurgent Newcastle today.

A few weeks back, I looked at this fixture and automatically marked it as a win. Alan Pardew’s side were in turmoil, struggling for form and couldn’t buy a win. Now they’re on a run of five straight wins and six games undefeated. Considering Alan Pardew was on the brink of taking a trip to the job centre, that’s pretty good going.

It’s typical that a team has to hit form just as they get round to playing us, but today should see Newcastle’s run halted. We may still have a number of injuries – Newcastle have a few as well – but we still have more than enough to comfortably see off Newcastle and send Pardew back up north with nothing less than a bit of friendly abuse still ringing in his ears and distant memories of years gone by when he led us to the FA Cup final. Those were good days, but better ones are around the corner.

It’s clash of managers against their former clubs. And players against their former clubs in the shape of Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan. Andy Carroll should start and, if Allardyce learnt anything from last weekend’s defeat at Everton, Nolan should not.

Prediction: Form remains, results improve. Three points. We’re all having a top six party.

Team News

West Ham United (6th, 18 points)

Stewart Downing and Cheikhou Kouyate are expected to return after recovering from knocks picked up whilst on international duty.

Alex Song, Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia and Mark Noble could all miss out through injury.

Winston Reid is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Everton last weekend.

Newcastle United (5th, 19 points)

Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Emmanuel Riviere and Cheick Tiote could all feature after returning from injury this week.

Tim Krul is doubtful, while Rolando Aarons is still sidelined until next week.

Possible Starting XI

Last 10 Meetings

18 Jan 2014Premier LeagueBoleyn GroundL 3-1
24 Aug 2013Premier LeagueSt. James ParkD 0-0
4 May 2013Premier LeagueBoleyn GroundD 0-0
11 Nov 2012Premier LeagueSt. James ParkW 1-0
5 Jan 2011Premier LeagueSt. James ParkL 5-0
23 Oct 2010Premier LeagueBoleyn GroundL 2-1
10 Jan 2009Premier LeagueSt. James ParkD 2-2
20 Sep 2008Premier LeagueBoleyn GroundW 3-1
26 Apr 2008Premier LeagueBoleyn GroundD 2-2
23 Sep 2007Premier LeagueSt. James ParkL 3-1

Match Statistics

3 – Newcastle are unbeaten in their last three visits to the Boleyn Ground

1 – West Ham have won one of their last eight meetings with Newcastle

2 – West Ham’s two clean sheets this season have both come at the Boleyn Ground

3 – Carlton Cole has scored in three of his last four games against the Magpies

205 – If he plays, Mark Noble will make a club-record 205th Premier League appearance for the Hammers

300 – And in doing so, Noble will also bring up 300 first team appearances for West Ham in all competitions

3 – Alan Pardew’s side are looking for a third straight away league victory

7 – And Newcastle are on the hunt for a seventh consecutive win in all competitions – their best run since April 2012

11 – Of Newcastle’s 14 league goals so far this season, 11 have come in the second half

41 – Alan Pardew is the third most successful manager in West Ham’s history, recording a win percentage of 41.10%

Fan Predictions

Head-to-Head (all competitions)

PlayedWonDrawnLostForAgainstGD +/-Win %