It was opening day of the season last time these two sides met. As everyone expected after having a prolific last season, Newcastle United took 3 points at their home. But time and again football has given us loads of surprises – the surprise (or) even some might say the shock being Newcastle have had a complete downturn and a steep slide down the bottom of the table battling it out for relegation until late last week.
On the other hand while many expected Andre’s Villas Boas to fail once again after having a dismal start to his Spurs career, he has proved his critics wrong on showing them what he is capable of given the time and his own space. The results have been speaking for him as they are currently 1 win away from taking the much coveted 3rd place for a guaranteed Champions League spot.
Last time Tottenham tasted defeat was a thrashing handed down by their neighboring rivals Arsenal in mid-November. It has exactly been 9 match weekends since Tottenham last tasted defeat. Only Manchester United has had a better streak than Spurs this season. This speaks volumes about the background work, training, confidence and support both the players and the coach are currently thriving upon.
Despite having this momentum going their ways, they have had to scrape through to settle for a marginal 1-0 victory at times or sometimes being held to a draw as well. This has not been a sudden eruption of worry, but this worry has been bothering AVB’s men right from the start of the season on how they were unable to close matches with the amount of chance they have had in each match. While still winning gets home the 3 points, “it is not over until it is over” is a famous mantra that Spurs will have to remember and start knocking down the goals to finish the matches.
Their over reliance on Defoe, as their primary striker has now taken a big hit with the England International out now for 3 weeks and Gareth Bale – the sensational formerly attacking from the wings, is thriving at his new role as a striker having scored 11 league goals this season. There is lot of quality in the midfield and they are doing everything almost correctly at the back conceding less as well over the time. If they can be more clinical in finishing off matches, they would be a hard nut to crack by the Newcastle side, just as Manchester United found out playing against Spurs this season.
Late until last week, Newcastle United also known as the Magpies was battling it down to keep them alive in the premier league. There are many reasons why there has been a steep decline to this Newcastle side after having had a great last season. There has been no coherence between the players, everybody have been looking out of sorts except their former striker Demba Ba upon whom the entire team was riding on to get results.
Secondly, injuries have done them no good as well as their key players like Tim Krul (who was a reason why the Magpies had a great last season), Yohan Cabaye (the midfield magician last season) and a few others who were out for a long time.
Thirdly, Papis Cisse has not been firing all cylinders as last season. The answer lies clear. Alan Pardew has put either of his strikers (formerly Ba as well), in a position that either are not much effective from. And stats also tell us that, whenever Ba or Cisse have started in their thriving no.9 position, they have scored goals while the other starting from the wing has not.
Thereby, instead of changing the formation to suit these two players, Pardew has been blind eyed which is the major reason for their drought in goals having just scored 33 time in the league. But now that Ba has moved over, we should expect Cisse to start firing again, but again time will only tell if that would happen because of the new revelation that we had witnessed at St. James park in the name of Sissoko.
Sissoko has that speed, that freshness and that agility that helped him score twice which included a stoppage time winner. If he can get going along with Cisse and with Newcastle almost having their full squad now, they can be a real potent force now to carry forwards their run of 2 victories in the last two games. As we heard Alan Pardew saying, “Now we think we have a good enough team but must back it up with results.” One area of concern though is their defense where the back 4 and their keeper have had a poor season so far which is why they find themselves in this position having conceded 44 times, which is the 3rd most goals allowed in the league this season.
Team and Injury News:
Adebayor may not return to the starting lineup depending on his fitness following his almost month-long involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations, but Villas-Boas is striker-light with his only other recognized striker, Jermain Defoe, out with an ankle injury. Midfielder Sandro and defender Younes Kaboul (both knee) are unavailable.
Lineup: Lloris, Friedel, Walker, Naughton, Gallas, Dawson, Caulker, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Holtby, Livermore, Huddlestone, Dembele, Parker, Bale, Sigurdsson, Dempsey, Bentley, Obika, Kane, Adebayor.
Midfielder Cheick Tiote could return to the squad after missing the last five games while on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Ivory Coast. However, Hatem Ben Arfa’s return from a hamstring problem has been delayed by a virus which has cost him a week’s training, and he is unlikely to be ready for selection until the end of the month.
Lineup: Krul, Harper, Elliot, Debuchy, Santon, Perch, Williamson, Coloccini, Yanga-Mbiwa, S. Taylor, Tiote, Sissoko, Gutierrez, Anita, Cabaye, Bigirimana, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi, Marveaux, Cisse, Shola Ameobi, Gouffran.
Last time these two teams met at White Hart Lane, spurs gave the Magpies a thumping by knocking 5 goals past them with a clean sheet as well.
There has not been much difference in terms of results because of the competitiveness of both the teams, with Newcastle winning twice & Tottenham winning thrice with 2 draws in the last 8 matches in premier league.
Gareth Bale has 11 league goals to his name, which is the best season he is having after the 2008-09 season where he was brought to the world stage with his stunning performances in Champions League.
Both teams have got that confidence now to excel with that zeal, both have the players who can seal matches single handedly. This match is once again going to be a treat for the football lovers to watch, since both teams are looking strong enough at least on paper & form. Since spurs have not been able to finish matches at home, we would slightly put Newcastle ahead to take home the three points.