|DATE||Sunday 19th April 2015|
|VENUE||St. James Park|
Sometimes being a football manager can feel like being in a very
lonely place. If Newcastle United suffer their eighth loss on
the trot against Spurs at St. James Park, that will be the case for
interim manager John Carver ... both statistically and literally, as
Newcastle's Toon Army are threatening a boycott of the match over
the funding of the team by owner Mike Ashley.
The principles involved are solid ones, with the team settling for mid-table safety and not being funded to make a challenge on any front. How the action will affect the side and should Spurs lose (and there is always a high possibility, as the team we face on a poor run of results is usually our chosen charity on match day), how will they face the remaining games, having lost the last two of the last to Man Utd and Aston Villa, with a goal-less, soul-less 0-0 at Burnley and only a dodgy 4-3 win over Leicester City to show for this run of matches.
The joke going around at the moment is that Spurs are supporting the boycott as they haven't turned up for their last two matches and intend to do the same at Newcastle. The towels look to be out already with the prospect of trips to Australia, Malaysia and the US on the horizon. But the reality for Tottenham, both financially and ambitiously, is they need to finish as high up the table as possible.
Newcastle are hit by injury and suspension ,so all the odds are pointing to a home win, as Spurs have few injuries and the only doubt in Pochettino's mind is whether he can risk Chiriches at right back again.
United have had a tough season and have hit the 50 goals conceded, which is a surprise, as Tim Krul is a decent keeper, but there have been injuries to him and the back four that have left them unsettled. However, on occasion, their defending has been shocking and in some games (i.e. the recent loss to Sunderland), there appeared little enthusiasm to get a result. They will be up for it against Spurs, as most teams are and with a bit of effort they could get something from the match. Tottenham have to match that effort, which is something that has been missing from their game recently. Closing, pressing and moving the ball quickly are the hallmarks of what put Tottenham amongst the talked about teams earlier this season.
Christian Eriksen needs to get back into the game and the cover from midfield on the flanks needs to be there, otherwise the full backs are exposed.
The Toon have some decent players. Their best this season, Sissoko, is suspended after getting sent off last week, as is their top striker Papiss Cisse for a spitting offence. But Daryl Janmaat is a decent defender, while Remy Cabella is a busy presence in midfield, providing strikers Ayoze Perez and Shola Ameobi with supply in the opposition area.
Spurs have been owing the
fans a performance, but whether they can raise their game in a
half-filled stadium, although that has been the case when Spurs have
won up there in the last few seasons. The stay-away fans might
have the right idea, as it won't be an open free-flowing game, with
neither team in good form, so a narrow win with Spurs fans the
happier at the end (hopefully).
|PREDICTION||Newcastle United 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Tottenham will be without Kyle Walker (foot), Hugo Lloris (knee) and Jan Vertonghen (illness).
UNITED TEAM NEWS :
As well as there being a large number of fans absent from the match, the squad are missing a substantial number of players. Moussa Sissoko (suspension), Rolando Aarons (hamstring), Siem de Jong (collapsed lung), Steven Taylor (calf), Jak Alnwick (thumb), Paul Dummett (knee), Chiek Tiote (knee) and Massadio Haidara (knee) are all unavailable for the game.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
Newcastle United 1 (0) Tottenham Hotspur
Sunday 19th April 2015 Kick off 16:00
St. James Park
Colback 45m 18s
Chadli 29m 10s
Eriksen 51m 20s
Kane 90m 17s
Colback (foul on Vertonghen) 40
Cabella (foul on Lamela) 63
Paulinho (foul on Cabella) 42
Lamela (foul on Anita) 45
Vertonghen (foul on Perez) 62
Bentaleb (foul on Cabella) 88
|Crowd : 47,427||Weather : Bright, still chilly|
|Referee : Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)||Assistant Referees : Mr. H. Lennard; Mr. A. Garrett|
|Fourth Official : Neil Swarbrick||-|
|Spurs kicked off and played towards the - end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90+ minutes.|
|Newcastle United :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
1 Tim KRUL
4 Ryan TAYLOR
15 Eric DIER
18 Harry KANE
|Manager : John Carver||Manager : Mauricio Pochettino|
|Sponsor : Wonga||Shirt sponsor : AIA|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : Under Armour|
It looked like the only winners in what was a shocking game for the first half hour would be the stay-away Newcastle fans, but Tottenham overcame a seriously poor Toon team to end up winning 3-1, which hopefully sets them up for a good run-in to the end of the season.
It wasn't a great performance by Spurs today, but then it didn't need to be. The home Toon team were dire. The fact that Spurs added a fifth defeat in succession was as much down to the fact that Newcastle could not find someone on the end of their passes, failed to make the most of the decent positions they got into and generally looked like a side who think 35 points is enough to stay up. Not having a ground full of barcodes roaring them on no doubt made it all feel slightly surreal, as the majority of the match was dominated by the singing of Tottenham fans way up in the gods. But that should not detract from the fact that Spurs dominated the game, with a huge amount of possession and the big questions that must be asked after the match was how we let Newcastle repeat their trick of equalising seconds after the interval and how Tottenham failed to score more against a team that was there for the taking.
The sun shone down on a half-filled St. James Park, but that didn't warm things up much. The stadium must be quite deceptive, as the official figure for the attendance was 47,427, so the real capacity must be approaching 89,000 when the other half of the crowd return from their boycott. Spurs wore their yellow away strip and kicked off attacking the Gallowgate end. Eric Dier filled the right back position, with Fazio coming in alongside the returning Jan Vertonghen, with Paulinho replacing Mason and Lamela in for Townsend.
Within the second minute, Spurs were on the attack, when Paulinho played a neat straight lifted pass into the left hand side of the penalty area for Kane. Harry took it well, but didn't get the chance to shoot, as Collocini was quickly onto him and nicked the ball away for a corner. Both sides' moves were characterised by poor final passes or crosses, which were either to nobody in particular or were cleared easily. In the fourteenth minute, Gouffran made the most of Rose being caught upfield when possession was won and his low ball into the six yard box from the right was met at the near post by Perez, who couldn't get too much power on it, but forced Vorm to a low save at the foot of his post.
Both sides were restricted to shots from long range, with Bentaleb firing well wide and Janmaat hitting a weak effort straight at Vorm, before Spurs got a free-kick 30 yards out to the right. Eriksen lined up the ball and when it looked like he would cross the ball, he played it in low to the near post, but no yellow shirt had read his intentions and it rolled through to Krul. Meanwhile, Paulinho was looking like the player we paid all that money for two years ago. One minute stopping a Newcastle attack on the edge of our box, then being involved as Spurs broke forward, laying a volleyed side-foot pass into the box for Lamela, which was juts a foot too far ahead of him. His work ethic was good today and it looked like Pochettino's decision to pick him ahead of Mason was justified, especially after his poor performance agianst Burnley might have made it easier to leave the Brazilian out.
Danny Rose did well to prevent Colback getting a cross in from their right wing, but having done the hard bit, he then pushed the midfielder over to concede a needless free-kick. Rose has developed into a very good defender, but still has moments of brainlessness, where he will dive in or foul without any pressure on him to do so, which puts us in danger. This time the free-kick was flighted over by Ryan Taylor and Williamson got a free header at it, but put it over the bar. That was one of United's crosses that found it's target, as most sailed out for goal-kicks after flying over the head of Perez in the box.
Spurs were not playing at a high tempo, but were happy to keep the ball, although that wasn't happening in the first third of the match, but Paulinho won the ball near halfway, played it to Chadli, who moved centrally from the left and then cut back onto his left foot, seeing a shooting opportunity, with no Magpies player closing him down. His left foot shot from 25 yards out went between two defenders and bounced just before Krul's dive, beating his right hand and going a foot inside the post to give Spurs the lead. Sporting what must be one of the smallest top-knots in history, Chadli must have felt the wind in his hair to let fly and rack up his 11th goal of the season.
Spurs were grateful to Vertonghen when he produced a fine block as Cabella ran onto a ball outside the penalty area a little while after the goal, then a bit of head tennis around the Spurs area was cleared by Fazio. Vorm took a Perez shot from 20 yards above his head and in quick succession, Vertonghen intercepted a pass through intended for Perez, while Fazio stopped Colback's move into the box.
Harry Kane had been holding the ball up well and using it well, but he only had his first sniff of goal a couple of minutes before half time, when he drilled a shot from a tight angle on the left of the goal. Krul stood up to it and beat it away at his near post, but there was uproar amongst the Newcastle players when Lamela brought down Anita in the defender's own corner of the pitch, as he tried to pass the ball back to Krul. It was a foul and a booking, but their reaction was out as proportion to the offence, especially when Obertan went through Rose with his trailing leg in the second half in a much worse tackle.
Anyway, half-time saw few queues in the home bars for refreshments and the manager tried to refresh the side with two changes. The anonymous Abedi was replaced by Obertan and Gouffran was taken off with Shola Ameobi taking his place. From the kick off, Spurs got possession and then Chadli lost it trying to trick his way past Janmaat, but the ball was played to Perez, who ran into the box on the right hand side. He wasn't challenged that well and the ball was pulled back for Janmaat, whose shot was blocked by Dier, but fell to Colback, who fired home from six yards out. It was sloppy stuff from Tottenham and there were two other players waiting to finish if Colback hadn't got there. It seemed they hadn't learned much form the game at White Hart Lane, as this goal after the break was even quicker.
The joy of those Newcastle fans in the ground didn't last too long. Eriksen was fouled by Colback about seven minutes later and while Friend failed to see it as worthy of a second yellow card, a free-kick from 30 yards to the left of centre was awarded. It was curled in by Eriksen, with Bentaleb being the leading Spurs player going for it, as Newcastle tried to hold a line on the edge of their box, but the ball missed everyone and Krul was banking on someone getting a touch, so his late dive was in vain as the ball nestle din the far corner of the net to regain Tottenham's lead with 52 minutes on the clock.
It should have been 3-1 a minute later, with Chadli crossing onto Bentlabe's head, but he failed to get above it and the ball skimmed the top of the net after it had gone over. A downward header might have beaten Krul from eight yards out. Only Krul's reflexes stopped the lead being extended, with a corner from Paulinho being met full on the volley by Kane from six yards out, but the keeper got something on it and Anita blocked it on the line to prevent the Spurs striker adding to his impressive tally this season. Harry was then put in by Bentlaeb, who scooped the ball over the Newcastle back line, but as he was going wide, he tried to play the ball back across goal, but slipped and the ball skewed off his foot for a goal kick. Then Bentaleb put Lamela through on Krul and as he shaped to go round him, he tried to slide the ball the other side of the Dutchman, but he got a bit on it and grabbed the loose ball.
Newcastle brought on Armstrong for Anita - forward for a defender - with Janmaat playing Colback in inside the area, but he could not take the ball under control and his second touch was a weak prod at goal, unlike Kane at the other end, who created space for a shot and hit a low effort that the keeper had to dive to stop. United pushed up trying to find an equaliser, but Janmaat fired a shot high and wide of the Spurs goal from outside the area, then Tottenham put the home goal under pressure, with Fazio's header denied by a goal-line block from Colback when the Argentine had got to a corner ahead of Krul with Kane forcing Williamson to a block to prevent his shot reaching goal soon after.
Janmaat seemed determined to score from 25 yards, but once more his effort flew into the sparsely populated seat behind the Gallowgate goal. A cross in from the United left in added time popped up, with Fazio heading it to the edge of the box and Mason winning the next header that fell to Lamela. He broke from the edge of the Spurs box and with Mason continuing his run to the right and Kane to his left, on halfway, he releases the ball to Kane, who was through on goal. Getting to the box, Mason was free to his right, with Obertan the closest black and white shirt, but still behind the Spurs forward, who chose to shot past the keeper to the left as Krul went right and Kane's 30th goal rippled the net as he ran to the part of the pitch about a mile below where the Spurs fans were located. It was a cool piece of finishing and good to see that despite the recent lack of service, he still knows where the goal is. Becoming the first player since Gary Lineker to bag 30 in a season will hopefully spur Kane on to greater things in the future (with Spurs, I hasten to add).
This was the style on the break that Spurs had been missing for a few matches. And while they weren't quite back to the level they were playing at earlier this season, it was enough to take the three points and a win will help going into the next two games against Southampton and Manchester City. These games will be much more difficult and everyone needs to be on their game.
By the time Spurs went 3-1 ahead, there were few home fans left and those that were soon headed for the exit signs, with boos ringing around the ground. Their mood is not being lightened, with little light at the end of the Tyne tunnel. Mike Ashley seems more interested in Glasgow Rangers and with money in the bank, but little investment in the team, occupying that hinterland between European qualification and avoiding relegation is the imminent future for Newcastle United.
For Tottenham, a good run to the end of the season is all that is left to aim for. Apart from Stoke and Everton, the other games are against teams with something still to play for.
It remains to be seen if Tottenham have the desire to play for the points left in our remaining five matches.
The team's nickname
derives from their traditional pre-match meal of savoury meat
parcels from the nearby bakery just two streets from St. James Park
back in the 1930s. Maggie was the lady baker whose wares took
the fancy of the players and they feasted on her beef delicacies and
they all could be heard calling for "Mag Pies" on a match day.
|Match ball sponsors||-|
|Match programme sponsors||-|
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|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Crystal Palace||0||West Bromwich Albion||2||Saturday|
|Leicester City||2||Swansea City||0||Saturday|
|Manchester City||2||West Ham United||0||Sunday|
|10||West Ham United||33||11||10||12||41||43||43||-2|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||33||9||9||15||32||46||36||-14|
Position before match :
Position after match : 6th
Position after the weekend : 6th
* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.
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