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Premier League

Sunday 19th April 2009

Under new management, Newcastle United come to White Hart Lane sat in the third relegation place in the table.  Alan Shearer has been summoned by Mike Ashley to be the Toon's saviour, but with three games played and only one point so far, it will be a tough ask to drag a club in turmoil out of the mire.

An inexperienced manager and a squad shorn of both confidence and some of their better players through transfers and injuries, leaves Newcastle struggling to stay afloat ... both in the Premier  League and financially.  The team are having difficulty keeping it tight at the back and with the forwards not exactly feasting at the other end, the side are going to have to battle for anything they get in the remaining games.  And that means starting at Tottenham, where they probably think they will have a good chance

With Viduka fit again, there are more options up front for the Geordies, but Shearer might go with Michael Owen and Andrew Carroll.  One an experienced goal-scorer who has notched a few since returning to fitness and the other a youngster, who ahs an aggressive attitude and scored the equaliser at Stoke last week.  Obafemi Martins might miss out with a groin problem, leaving the only other option up top as midfielders playing in a more forward position.

These could include Damien Duff, Jonas Guttierez or Peter Lovenkrands - all more traditional wingers, but they have trickery and each can finish off good supply from the other midfielders.  That leaves the likes of Nicky Butt, Danny Guthrie, Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan as the basis of the engine room and there is a lot of effort among them.  Butt is getting on, but always seems to have a good game against Spurs, so it will be down to Wilson Palacios to stymie his game, while the others will need to make sure they are not physically ousted from the game and that our passing is spot on to open them up and expose their defence.

That defence has been shaky since Shay Given left in the January transfer window.  Fabricio Collocini has not been the hit that was expected, but it is not too surprising, as his best years were five years back and his positioning and marking are not what they were.  Jose Enrique has been reasonably solid at full back, but likes to get forward and there has been no cover for him, while Stephen Taylor has been found out a bit among a weak defensive unit.  Cacapa and Sebastien Bassong have both suffered too, with the latter supposedly a target for a number of clubs, but not on this form you might think.  Behind them, Stephen Harper has suffered in comparison to the departed Given, but he is not a bad keeper when four good defenders are playing in front of him.

As far as Tottenham are concerned the three points last week give them a safety buffer and another three this week will lift them into the part of the Premier League where teams will be challenging for a Europa League place.  However, it is necessary to make sure that they don't think this will come as a right and they need to put in the same level of effort that they did against Chelsea and Villa.  If they do that, they should be able to record the win that they are capable of and plunge Newcastle United into more despair.

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur   2    Newcastle United  0

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  - (-); - (-); - (-); 

NEWCASTLE UNITED :  -  Obafemi Martins (groin); Jose Enrique (knee); - (-); 


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Tottenham Hotspur   1    Newcastle United   0      (Half-time score : 1-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Sunday 19th April 2009
Kick Off :  1.30 p.m.
Crowd :   35850,
Referee :  Mark Halsey (Lancashire)
Newcastle United kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Sunny, dry
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka
20  Dawson (  2  Hutton 33)
39  Woodgate
32  Assou-Ekotto     

  7  Lennon
12  Palacios
  6  Huddlestone
14  Modric

15  Keane (c)
10  Bent  (25  Defoe 75)

Unused subs: 
23  Cudicini
  3  Bale
  4  Zokora
  5  Bentley
18  Campbell

Newcastle United :

13  Harper

16  R. Taylor     
27  S. Taylor (17  Smith 46)
12  Bassong
21  Beye
11  Duff

  4  Nolan (36  Viduka 61)
22  Butt (c)
18  Gutierrez

10  Owen
39  Carroll (  9  Martins 60)

Unused subs: 
40  Krul
  8  Guthrie
23  Ameobi
30  Edgar

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Newcastle United
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Bent 24

Newcastle United


Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Assou-Ekotto (foul) 77


Newcastle United

R. Taylor (foul) 78 


Match Report : -  
I never liked Alan Shearer as a player.  A fine goalscorer, but a nasty, whingeing one with it, who escaped a lot of punishment form the officials and the FA because he was England captain.  So, when his team come to White Hart Lane and I see them playing in his image, I am not too disappointed when Spurs run out 1-0 winners and his team are sat with just one team beneath them in the table.

To be truthful, on the day, while Spurs were more than comfortable, they did not play that well, but Newcastle were worse.  My son pointed out that when we played at St. James Park in the League Cup earlier in the season we were bottom and United were second bottom.  Before this match, Tottenham were ninth and Newcastle were second bottom.  Says a lot doesn't it.

I can't get caught up in all the hyperbole about Shearer and Newcastle.  About how he was a great player and how they are a massive club.  I know it is a long time since we last won the league, but is it forty years since Newcastle won anything ?

So, when the Toon come to town, it is nothing to get excited about, especially when they believe that the previous few league games against us would guarantee them a result today ... and they accuse Spurs fans of being arrogant.  Well, the Barcodes failed to string many passes together and their big hope was the big hoof forward, especially when they brought on Big Viduka and Martins.

As I said, Tottenham's play in the game was sloppy and we gave the ball away far too much, but there were some passages of play when we moved up-field with good passing and movement.  It is just when we get around the penalty area that things lose impetus.  The game was crying out for someone to smack the ball at goal and although that did happen ,with Huddlestone and Palacios having shots from long range, when the ball arrived at a Spurs player's feet in the box, there was a dis-inclination to have a pop at goal.

Within the first two minutes, a slick move set Bent through ... well, it would have down had Beye not managed to fall all over him as he burst through the middle.  It was outside the box, but a sending off ?  Well, with less than two minutes on the clock, it would be unlikely that Halsey would incur the wrath of She-Ra by reducing the Newcastle side to ten men.  Especially when five of them were playing at the back.  Damien Duff was deployed at left back to counter the threat of Aaron Lennon, but the three centre-halves looked like strangers and could not fathom where they should be a lot of the time nor where the Spurs forwards were.

To be honest, they tried hard and were picking off the through balls Spurs were trying to thread through the defence at the start, but the midfield distribution of the ball was appalling.  It was ten minutes before they crafted a chance, with Owen putting Guttierez (or Jonas as his shirt said) in for a shot that Michael Dawson did well to get across and block.  Then Spurs hit back as Palacios and Keane combined to put a low ball into the six yard box for Darren Bent, but Stephen Taylor cut the ball out.  The same happened when Beye intercepted Corluka's low ball into the area, but he nearly sliced it towards his own goal.

Michael Dawson was down needing attention after a clash with Andrew Carroll, the young striker.  You could tell that Shearer had been coaching him, as Dawson was flat on the floor ... and not for the first time.  Some of the "tackling" by Newcastle bordered on the fringes of the laws of the game and Mark Halsey, the referee, was lenient bearing out his previous reputation as one who doesn't get his cards out that often.

With 15 minutes on the clock, Modric and Lennon took a short corner and the ball found Modric in a surprising amount of space, allowing him to move into the area and put a ball into Bent's path.  The striker took it firs time, but did not make a clean connection, slightly dragging it as it went straight at Harper.  Spurs had a mini-scare in the 23rd minute, when Ryan Taylor swung in a free-kick, but failed to find a Newcastle head, but found Tom Huddlestone's head and the ball skimmed off it and went just over the Tottenham crossbar.  From the corner, the ball was cleared and when it was played back in, Kevin Nolan was offside, although the ball ran through to Heurelho Gomes, so the ref waved play on.  And a good advantage it was !!

The Brazilian keeper threw the ball out quickly to Benoit Assou-Ekotto on the left, he took the ball forward, before releasing a pass to Luka Modric, who looked to find Robbie Keane coming in on the right hand corner of the penalty area.  Unfortunately, Bassong slid in to cut out the pass, but only succeeded in diverting the ball across the area into the path of Darren Bent.  Coming in from the left, on his right foot, he looked like he was trying to square the ball for Keane, but it was firmly struck and Steve Harper could not hold the ball.  Luckily for Bent, it rolled back into his path and this time he could curl it past the keeper and Beye on the goal-line to open the scoring for Tottenham after 24 minutes.  Benty took the goal well, but should really have finished it the first time.

As it was, it gave Spurs impetus to go forward more and as we have seen over the last few weeks, one goal is sometimes not enough.  In the 28th minute, Modric knocked the ball into Hud's path and the big midfielder strode onto it and lashed it goal-wards, from fully 25 yards, with the ball stinging Harper's fingertips as his full length dive pushed the ball away.  Just as Tottenham's momentum was building, an injury to Dawson, when he fell awkwardly, interrupted play and he had to be carried off on a stretcher.  It was a shame after he was given a start as Ledley King wasn't fit for the game and he had done well against the lanky Carroll in the air.

As it was, Spurs kept going on the attack, with Corluka releasing Huddlestone down the right after a good run into space and his low ball across the goalmouth was missed by Bent, then Keane and Modric both had shots, with Bassong getting in the way of the ball, taking all the sting out of the second effort, leaving Harper to calmly pick up the ball.  The Geordie keeper had to be a bit sharper when Hud hit another thunderbolt from outside the box and the ball was touched over the bar, although the ref waved away calls for a corner.

It was only in added time that Newcastle threatened seriously, with Guttierez picking the ball off as Woodgate and Corluka hesitated, but his pass into Michael Owen in the centre of the goal was weak and claimed by Gomes, but Tottenham had a chance of their own when Hutton hung up a right wing cross to the far post and Darren Bent climbed well, but his header went over the angle of crossbar and post rather than heading it back across goal.

The half time break saw Stephen Taylor go off and Alan Smith come on in his place.  So far had he disappeared from view that I had forgotten he was still at Newcastle and his lack of blonde hair gave him a strange appearance ... much like the strange appearance he was about to put in.  With Hutton having come on to replace Dawson and Corluka slipping in alongside Woodgate in the middle of the back four, the Scot linked well with Lennon on the right wing and a lot of play came down that flank in the early part of the second half.  Duff stuck to his task, but faced with two players, he started to need reinforcements and this created space inside.

A couple of minutes into the half, a through ball almost caught Newcastle out, but Bassong did well to stay with Keane and as the Irishman got his shot away, the French defender got a boot in the way and the ball went away for a corner.  A few minutes afterwards, Lennon's cross saw Butt raise his hands to block the ball and a free-kick was given a few yards outside the area, which Huddlestone smashed at goal and Bassong got in the way, leaving him rubbing his lower abdomen for a while afterwards.

A good ball out of defence by Modric let Bent run away on the left and his low ball into the near post was blocked, but the ball came out to Wilson Palacios, who drilled in a shot that Beye threw in the way of to stop it.  it was becoming a bit too much for Shearer and he brought on Martins and Viduka with the ineffectual Nolan and Carroll going off.  All three subs used with an hour gone and there were now three forwards on the pitch and Guttierez playing in an advanced wing position.  The two new men linked immediately and Martins should really have done better than blast over the bar from six yards out, but Gomes had to be quick out to stop Owen's attempted run into the area, as Harper had done to Bent a minute earlier.  As usual, Owen was hurt in the clash, but managed to limp on.

Newcastle thoguht they had equalised, but the whistle had gone a considerable time before the ball hit the net and it was the handball that Martins perpetrated before shooting home that was the reason.  A minute later, in the 68th, Lennon came in from the right wing and ran across the face of the area before hitting a left foot shot that went just wide.  It was from this side that Tottenham were getting a lot of joy and Hutton put in a low cross that Harper claimed in the six yard box, just before Keane got there.

Martins was causing problems with his direct running and a shot that Woodgate got in the way of, spun into the air and the Newcastle forward got there first, but could only see the ball weakly come off him into Gomes' hands.   With Bent struggling to hold the ball up front, Redknapp brought on Jermain Defoe with fifteen minutes left.  A free-kick was awarded for a cynical foul by Ryan Taylor on Lennon, after he had skipped past him and there was nobody beyond him.  However, he only got a yellow card and Spurs only got a corner, when Assou-Ekotto's shot came off Owen, who was about five yards away when he struck the ball.  From the corner, Modric put in a well flighted free-kick met powerfully by Woodgate and Harper palmed the ball up into the air and just got to the rebound over Keane's head to knock it away.

Huddlestone was up for it today and his passing was mostly spot on, as was his shooting as he struck a shot from fully 30 yards to send Harper scuttling across to over it, but I am not sure if he would have got there if it had been on target.  But as with a one goal lead in any game, it can be a fragile lead and when Ryan Taylor put in Martins for a volley just outside the six yard box, we all held our breath until it soared over the bar.

At least when Defoe got the ball in dangerous positions, he wasn't afraid to shoot and Bassong blocked one effort that looked as if it was on its way in and in added time, Beye denied the returning Spurs striker too.  A massive goalmouth scramble at the end, but realistically, had Newcastle got anything from the game it would have been an injustice.

It is not hard to see why they are where they are.  Too many players in the side are perhaps the wrong side of their best days and the lack of confidence shone through, as they passed the ball into a space where nobody was or passed it off the pitch.  It appears that the money that has been spent on this side has been wasted and whether they stay up or not, there will have to be a drastic reshaping of the team for next season.

Before the game there was a minute's applause for 1970s winger Jimmy Neighbour, who died last week, ironically on the day when Spurs played another of his old clubs, West Ham United.  It was a fitting tribute to a winger who flitted down the line in his heyday, but he would have been pleased with the way Tottenham stuck to their football today.  A coach at the club, he would be looking down on the team playing the Tottenham way.




Reaction : -



For Wyart Lane's view on the game featured in the Times Online Fanzine Fanzone, click here.
There are few teams that have come to Tottenham looking so poor as Newcastle did today.   I thought West Ham were just looking for a point last week, as they showed little attacking intent, but they did have injury problems.  What is Newcastle's excuse ? 

The team played as though they are resigned to their fate and I wonder if the Geordie nation will get behind their team when significantly more than they brought down to the Lane with them see how they perform.  I think three wins from five games is a long shot when they only have six from the previous 33.

But on the brighter side, Tottenham are looking like a good passing side again, as they play the ball sharply and accurately.  All we need is a striker who can do the same with his shots and we might be able to get to a comfortable position in a game without having to live on our nerves for the last ten minutes, as the opposition bombs high balls into our area, hoping for a knock down and a finish, which, luckily, Martins couldn't apply with his late volley.

I hope that the side can continue their form in the last few games and begin net season in the same way, as we could end up with nearly fifty points and when you thin of all the last minute goals that robbed us of points, it is not a big step to cutting them out and next season ending up with nearly sixty plus, which will be a Europa League place at least.








Other scores this weekend :
Aston Villa 1 West Ham United 1 Saturday
Middlesbrough 0 Fulham 0 Saturday
Portsmouth 1 Bolton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Stoke City 1 Blackburn Rovers 0 Saturday
Sunderland 1 Hull City 0 Saturday
Manchester City 4 West Bromwich Albion 2 Sunday
Other scores this mid-week :
Liverpool 4 Arsenal 4 Monday
Chelsea 0 Everton 0 Tuesday
Manchester United 2 Portsmouth 0 Tuesday
FA Cup semi finals
Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2 Saturday
Manchester United 0 Everton (won 4-2 on penalties) 0 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 32 23 5 4 56 21 74 +35
2 Liverpool 33 20 11 2 63 25 71 +38
3 Chelsea 33 20 8 5 55 20 68 +35
4 Arsenal 33 17 11 5 58 33 62 +25
5 Aston Villa 33 15 9 9 49 43 54 +6
6 Everton 33 14 11 8 47 34 53 +13
7 West Ham United 33 12 9 12 38 37 45 +1
8 Fulham 33 11 11 11 33 28 44 +5
9 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 33 12 8 13 39 36 44 +3
10 Manchester City 33 12 5 16 51 44 41 +7
11 Wigan Athletic 32 11 8 13 31 36 41 -5
12 Stoke City 33 10 9 14 33 48 39 -15
13 Bolton Wanderers 33 11 4 18 39 50 37 -11
14 Portsmouth 33 9 10 14 35 50 37 -15
17 Sunderland 33 9 8 16 31 43 35 -12
15 Hull City 33 8 10 15 36 56 34 -20
16 Blackburn Rovers 33 8 10 15 35 55 34 -20
18 Middlesbrough 33 7 10 16 25 47 31 -22
19 Newcastle United 33 6 12 15 37 53 30 -16
20 West Bromwich Albion 33 6 7 20 30 63 25 -33


Position before the match :  9th
Position after the match :   9th
Position after the weekend/midweek matches :   9th


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