Following an embarrassing 6-0 hammering by Liverpool, and after a week where newspapers were warned against revealing the extent of Newcastle's dressing room tensions, this weekend's trip to West Ham feels like a particularly important game for Alan Pardew.
Newcastle are now in 17th, just one point away from the drop-zone. They could do without further selection issues, but the suspension of Mathieu Debuchy following his unnecessary dismissal against Liverpool last Saturday gives Pardew with another selection headache at right-back. Luckily, he has a variety of options in that position, Danny Simpson is apparently fit after a couple of injury lay-offs, but James Perch and Vurnon Anita appear more likely to be selected in defence.
Perch has been fielded in the centre of midfield recently, but it probably makes sense for him to be shifted to his natural position at right-back. He'll be up against West Ham's left-winger Matt Jarvis, and while Perch can struggle against intelligent movement, he's decent when battling against tricky but predictable players like Jarvis.
This would allow Anita to come into the side in the centre of midfield, although Pardew might name both players on the team-sheet, and we'll still be unaware of precisely where they'll play, as the duo are capable of playing in either position.
But Pardew will also be aware of Andy Carroll's presence upfront against his former side; he'll primarily be battling against the centre-backs, but he might also draw wide to meet diagonal balls, and while Perch isn't the tallest, he's got five inches on 5'6 Anita.