Three things we learned as West Ham deny Newcastle all three points
By Alessandro Schiavone at London Stadium
West Ham 2-2 Newcastle United
Goals: Soucek & Kudus (WHU), Isak 2x (NU)
What did we learn about West Ham as they held Newcastle to a 2-2 draw?
Hammers can hold their own against anyone
West Ham were good value for a point against a high-flying Newcastle United side sitting top of their group of death ahead of PSG, Milan and Dortmund and tipped by many to make the top-four again.
Yet despite Newcastle's blatant on-paper superiority, for a big chunk of the first period and the dying stages, the Hammers were on top. And despite being largely outplayed for the bulk of the second half, they can even afford themselves the luxury to look back in anger as they could have won it. Had the excellent Nick Pope not made a stunning save from Jarrod Bowen's curling finish West Ham would have beaten a side that had only just brushed aside PSG 4-1, knocked out Man City of the Carabao Cup and held seven-time Champions League winners Milan to a 0-0 draw at San Siro.
Despite having had a day less to prepare for this game, the Hammers looked the fresher of the two sides, as David Moyes' men started off brightly and confidently.
With the Magpies looking jaded, Thursday night's European hero Lucas Paquetà picked out Emerson Royal with a cross into space. The Italian flicked it past Pope before squaring for Tomas Soucek who tapped into an unguarded net. New Ghanaian signing Mohammed Kudus found the bottom corner with a well-executed finish late on. Thanks to their ability to score at any moment in games, the Hammers have already beaten Chelsea, Brighton and Hove Albion, Freiburg, held the Magpies to a draw and stayed in games until five minutes from time against both Liverpool and Man City. And that after the well-documented departure of captain and superstar Declan Rice. They may not always end up winning but can certainly mix it with anyone on any given day. And while the tag of "giant-killing" would be premature just yet, the Hammers can eye a few more upsets this season if they play like they did in their last two games.
Kane, Haaland... Isak. It's too easy
Kurt Zouma and Nayef Aguerd certainly have the strength, physicality and pace to deal with any striker as a pairing. Asked by Capital Football which centre-back he prefers playing alongside, the Moroccan said: "I get on with everyone but with Zouma I have a great relationship on and off the pitch. I am a lad who adapts to situations and tries to give his all."
Yet yesterday none of them knew how to keep Alexander Isak quiet. The Swede scored the equaliser thanks to a complicity by Edson Alvarez who headed a clearance straight into his path to finish following a free-kick into the box. And then the 24-year-old superstar got in between Zouma and Aguerd to get on the end of a brilliant volleyed cross by Kieran Trippier.
None of the West Ham players managed to tame Isak, who could have put the game to bed at 2-1 up yet failed to hit the open goal after rounding Areola. Isak was worth his weight in gold yesterday but the hosts made it way too easy for him. And it's not the first time they struggle to handle big-name centre-forwards. Harry Kane has scored more goals against the Hammers than against any other team in his career, Erling Haaland also loves a hurrah against the east Londoners and Isak is on his way to becoming the next chief tormentor in this part of the capital. "Errare humanum est, sed perseverare diabolicum." Moyes has to find ways of building cages around those clinical finishers.
Mohammed Kudus has that fear factor Gianluca Scamacca, Maxwell Cornet and others didn't possess. The Ghanaian has yet to start a game in the Premier League but that is likely to change now after he scored his maiden game in English football. Good between the lines and at exploiting Newcastle's weaknesses, yesterday he looked the real deal when coming on. His outrageous equaliser broke Magpies hearts and there's a stat doing the rounds that Ajax have yet to win a league game since he left. He is a big reason as to why West Ham can dream of qualifying for Europe for a fourth consecutive season and even go one better than 2022 in the Europa League. A great signing who should be starting games but who has shown that he's equally effective when coming on.