Tottenham must do something they have never done, win at St. James Park
Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho has 200 victories in the Premier League following the Spurs win over Arsenal this past weekend. However, the “Special One” does not have a win at St. James Park in 7 games as a manager across his stints with Chelsea and Manchester United earning 3 draws and 3 losses. With any hope of European competition next season in the balance, Tottenham Hotspur needs to break Mourinho’s duck at St. James Park and overcome Newcastle United in a midweek Premier League battle.
Newcastle are comfortably midtable – 13th place – at this point in the season on 43 points and completely safe from relegation. After two wins and a draw in their first three games back during project re-start Newcastle has fallen off with a tie and two losses in the last three games. Safety from relegation will do that to some teams, but that does not mean Newcastle have nothing to play for. Only 5 points back of 10th place Burnley, a top ½ finish is within the realm of possibility for Newcastle United.
One common theme since the re-start for Newcastle has been goals, particularly goals for, with 11 goals scored in Toons six games since returning in June. The only games Newcastle have not scored in since returning to action were both against Manchester City where Toons lost 0-2 in the FA Cup and 5-0 in the league. Outside of those two losses, Newcastle have those 11 goals for and only six against in the league.
It all begins now for Tottenham against Newcastle United
This includes a huge 3-0 win over Sheffield United and a 4-1 thrashing at Bournemouth were Spurs were able to manage only 1 shot on target. These 11 goals have come from 8 different players during this stretch and Dwight Gayle leads the group with 3 goals.
Of course, the re-start is just part of the season – overall Newcastle have a negative 16 goal difference having given up 52 goals on the year and only scoring 36.
And while contributions may come from all over with 10 players having at least 2 goals on the season and 16 different Toons finding the net, not one Newcastle player has reached double-figures and Jonjo Shelvey leads the team with just six goals.
Newcastle is likely to play a 4-4-2 lineup which they have deployed in five of their last seven games, mixing in a 4-2-1-2-1 lineup for a couple of games with a midfield X. Regardless of shape, a couple of familiar names may grace the Newcastle line-up with former Spurs Nabil Bentaleb and De-Andre Yedlin both featuring Steve Bruce’s side since the restart. Tottenham loanee Danny Rose cannot play given Spurs are his parent team.
Ultimately, we can expect Newcastle to concede some possession and look to use their height with long balls and crosses. If Tottenham can maintain the organization and structure demonstrated of late this is a game Spurs should win. Of course, that is the same thing me and many others said prior to both Sheffield United and Bournemouth and we know how both of those turned out.
Bottom line, it does not matter what Newcastle does or who they line-up Spurs are the better team and IF they bring the same energy and desire shown over the weekend versus Arsenal, the outcome should never be in doubt. However, IR Tottenham are passive and not demonstrating a killer instinct from the off, well we have seen that movie before. I believe we will have that energy and Spurs come out victorious 4-1, giving Mourinho making his 201st Premier League win his first at St. James Park.