Newcastle United (Away)
Premier League

Sunday 21st December 2008


Having lost our previous recent visits to St. James' Park in the league 1-3 on each occasion, it might seem that there is little likelihood of getting much from this pre-Christmas trip to Newcastle.  However, the most recent trip saw Spurs achieve a 2-0 win in the League Cup, so perhaps all is not lost ... especially as that was with Juande Ramos in charge.

With Newcastle undergoing a similar renaissance under the management of Joe Kinnear to Tottenham under Redknapp, it will be an interesting meeting between the two sides.  Sitting side by side in the table, both clubs will be seeking to move up some places in the table so that they are well clear of the bottom three at Christmas.

Newcastle have strength in some areas and weaknesses in others.  Shay Given in goal is a fine shot-stopper and commands his box, while Michael Owen is in good goals-scoring form since returning from injury. 

The defence is one which can be exposed and Aaron Lennon, should he shake off a groin problem, might use his pace to get past them.  Lennon's final ball is improving all the time and there could be chances created, but they must not be spurned.  The Brazilian Capaca has only featured five times and if fit Steven Taylor will be in the middle of defence with Fabrizio Collocini.  Taylor is a traditional English centre half, who is good in the air and tough in the tackle, although his positional sense can be suspect, while Collocini has been struggling to settle in English football since moving from Deportivo La Coruna.  Habib Beye is an experienced defender, but another who gets caught too far forward and the space behind him is asking to be attacked by Tottenham.  Jose Enrique is another one who has had trouble since coming to Tyneside and he seems to be vulnerable to getting turned in tight situations at full back.

Having some injuries - to Smith and Barton - has left Newcastle a little light in midfield, although whenever we play them, we tend to make Nicky Butt look world-class.  Therefore, it will be necessary to make sure he does not have the time and space to use the ball and to track his runs.  Another long term injury victim, Damien Duff, is available with his direct running on the wing, although he is no longer as quick as he was.  One who is quick and has been a regular is Charles N'Zogbia, who has had his critics and has been moved around the team (even playing at full back), but is a tricky runner with the ball and can produce good supply to the forwards, as can Jonas Guttierez, who is pacy and a good dribbler.  He's been a consistent performer since arriving at Newcastle, but sometimes he drops onto the fringes of the game and loses his effectiveness.  Signed from Liverpool in the summer, Danny Guthrie has been mostly noted for his assault on Craig Fagan in the Hull game at St. James Park, when he got sent off and broke the Tigers' forward's leg.  A driving force from midfield, he can play good passes and got his first goal recently, so can be a good player when he puts his mind to it.  The defensive midfielder among all these is ex-Chelsea man Geremi, who is another who has a good game when he plays Spurs.  Using his experience to pick off passes and to generally spoil in midfield, he uses the ball simply to keep the Newcastle game ticking over.  Hard to mark, but Tottenham will need to play around him, rather than try to go through him.

Owen has mostly been paired up front with Obafemi Martins, so they are not the biggest strike duo, but Martins has a good leap and despite his lack of height, Owen scores his fair share of headers through timing his runs to meet the ball as it comes in.  They are both intelligent runners with the ball and off it, while Martins has the strength to keep hold of the ball despite attention from defenders.  If that is not working, then they can bring on the restored to 100% fitness (well, as close as he gets) Mark Viduka, who still has the head to play the target role and Shola Ameobi, who is one who has failed to realise his full potential as a striker that starred for the England Under-21s, but has not progressed from there.

Spurs will have some of the missing players back from injury and being cup-tied for the midweek UEFA Cup match, making them a stronger possibility, although the team that went out on Thursday showed hat they could match the Russian side.  With the defence being disrupted by the possible absences of King and Woodgate, the return of Assou-Ekotto and Corluka will bring some back who have played in the back four this season, making the understanding between them more assured.

Newcastle have not had a great time at home so far this season.  They have beaten Bolton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion, but have dropped points against some other of the teams around them.  I can see this happening again against Spurs.  With both teams desperate to not lose, I think there might be a share of the points in this result ...

PREDICTION : -  Newcastle United  1   Tottenham Hotspur   1

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


NEWCASTLE UNITED :  - Alan Smith (foot); Iganzio Gonzalez (Achilles); Joey Barton (knee); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Alan Hutton (foot); Giovani Dos Santos (ankle); Darren Bent (tonsilittis); Jonathan Woodgate (back); Jermaine Jenas (calf); - (-); - (-); 


Match of the Day 2  (BBC 2) - Sunday 22.35 - 23.35 (highlights)
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click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




Newcastle United   2   Tottenham Hotspur    1      (Half-time score : 1-1)

Premier League
Venue : -  St. James Park
Sunday 21st December 2008
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   47,982
Referee :  Andre Marinner (West Midlands)
Weather :  -  Cold
Teams : - 
Newcastle United :

  1  Given

21  Beye
12  Bassong
  2  Coloccini
  3  Jose Enrique      (11 Duff 88      )

18  Gutierrez     
  8  Guthrie
22  Butt
14  N'Zogbia

23  Ameobi (36  Viduka 30)
10  Owen (c)

Unused subs: 
13  Harper
20  Geremi
27  Taylor
30  Edgar
39  Carroll

Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka
26  King (c)
20  Dawson
32  Assou-Ekotto

  5  Bentley
  4  Zokora
  6  Huddlestone     
  7  Lennon

14  Modric     

  9  Pavlyuchenko (18  Campbell 64)

Unused subs: 
21  Cesar
  3  Bale
16  Gunter
19  Taarabt
23  Boateng
24  O'Hara

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Newcastle United

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Newcastle United

N'Zogbia 12
Duff 89

Tottenham Hotspur

Modric  28

Cards : -  
Newcastle United

Enrique (foul) 19  
Guttierez (foul) 89
Duff (dissent) 89


Tottenham Hotspur 

Huddlestone (diving) 62
Modric (foul) 88


Match Report : -  
Perhaps we ought to contribute to the campaign to save the world by not bothering to travel to the North-East, such is Tottenham's poor record up there in the league.  And this last minute defeat was another winnable match, which Tottenham allowed to slip away.

A couple of early challenges rattled the home players.  Assou-Ekotto caught Guttierez as he jumped for a header and the always prone to injury Ameobi also took a knock, which later forced him off with 30 minutes gone.  The home defence were also shaken in the first couple of minutes, with Lennon making an incisive run into the penalty area and instead of steadying himself to pick someone out, he rashly played a hard-hit cross across the face of goal, without a player there to touch it in, as Pavlyuchenko had to back out from an offside position.

A string of early corners put United under pressure, but there was not enough end product.  Dawson got in ahead of his marker and forced Given to push it over the top as it looked like it might drop over him.  From a free-kick, Newcastle played a huge ball downfield from Given and Assou-Ekotto was underneath it, but was out-muscled, despite knocking the Newcastle midfielder over, allowing N'Zogbia to go on to shoot past Gomes to give the home team a 12th minute lead.  It is another example of the old Spurs, who got caught out like this.  With King back, but Woodgate missing, the lack of a regular back four might have cost us the first goal.  However, questions should be asked about the other two defenders who gave up running and left Benoit to deal with it on his own.

Up to that stage, Tottenham had looked good.  And they did again after the goal, with Bentley making good space inside the penalty box before pulling his shot along the floor and wide.  But Tottenham also had to be alert at the back, where Dawson foiled Owen when it looked like he would shoot after Butt's neat ball through and then, when Owen supplied Butt, his legs got him there, but his control was not equal to it.  Then Gomes was alert to push out N'Zogbia's cross as he got away from Corluka with ease.

With 28 minutes gone, Dawson rushed in to tackle Ameobi and the ball went forward into the Newcastle half, where Roman Pavlyuchenko was standing offside, but was running back towards his own goal, while Luka Modric was going the other way, played onside by Enrique.  He took one touch and as the ball came down and Given came out, stroked it past the Newcastle keeper for the equaliser.

Ameobi had been mostly harmless and his replacement by Viduka, although clearly not 100% match fit (but then is he ever ?). provided a more muscular presence up front.  However, it was the Spurs striker Pavlyuchenko who was more active; firstly testing Given from outside the box with a shot and then almost getting an open opportunity from Corluka's cross, but Collochini got in just ahead of him to knock it out for a corner.

While the first half had been open and attacking, the second was almost stultifyingly dull. Both teams appeared to have lost the verve for the game they showed in the first 45 minutes, although Tottenham did start the half well.  A short corner saw Modric cross and the ball drop with Michael Dawson trying a spectacular scissors kick, but he's not Klinsmann and the ball went well over the top.  Then a few minutes later, N'Zogbia got past Corluka again, much as Lennon had the run on Enrique, but the winger's cross found only Assou-Ekotto who cleared on the edge of the six yard box.

The ball made it's way into both boxes, but when Huddlestone chased a ball in around the penalty spot in the Newcastle box, Given came out to meet him and to avoid squashing the goalie, it appeared that Tom leapt over him, but the referee saw this as a dive to earn a penalty and showed him a yellow card.  Dear, so dear Mr. Marriner, where were you when we needed you in previous games ? 

Spurs took of Pav and brought on their only other fit striker Campbell, who showed good energy, but has not yet quite perfected the timing of his runs into dangerous areas.  His counterpart on the other side has done this for years and one such run saw the ball land at his feet ten yards out and that normally only means one thing, but on this occasion, Michael Owen managed to hit his shot way over the bar, when anything on target might have reaped the reward of a goal.  Campbell got a bit too far ahead of Lennon's cross with ten minutes left and could not get a header on goal.

Cards were exchanged, as they are at this time of year, with Modric and Guttierez going into the book for fouls, but when another long ball was played into the Tottenham defence, nothing looked too dangerous.  However, King's weak header was picked up by Duff, who had only been on for a minute.  He knocked it in to Viduka inside the area and the Aussie took one touch, then back-heeled it into Duff's path, as he had continued his run and nobody had gone with him.  So, in the last minute of the game, the winger had time to dribble the ball past Gomes and into the net for what seemed like the winner, being so close to the end.

His celebrations earned him a booking and some added time for Tottenham to try and salvage something from a game that both teams seemed happy enough playing out as a draw.  There was still enough time for Modric to dink a cross into the empty heart of the Newcastle box to where Fraizer Campbell was moving.  As the ball came in, Given stood rooted to his line and a decent touch might have taken the ball away from the keeper and into the net, but without realising what was going on around him, Campbell tried to flick a header and missed the ball completely.

It was a desperate end to a match which Spurs should have been ahead in.  The fact that the team are still trying to be too clever when not safely in the lead, means that any error they make is being punished and points are being lost.

This was to be the first of the winnable games we had coming up.  It was but the side failed to capitalise on Newcastle's fragile defence.  They need to be more ruthless, as, although they are out of the bottom three, with other results this weekend, the battle to avoid the drop is still as close as ever.





Reaction : -




Well, at least it wasn't 3-1 !!

There are still things not right  in the team, as they are still not functioning to their maximum.  The attacking instinct is there, but the lack of support for the single forward means Pavlyuchenko is isolated and the position of maximum opportunity is not that, as there are not enough people joining in the attack to get men in the box.

I hope that the January transfer window brings in players to effect a change in style, but I hope that does not mean Stewart Downing at the expense of players we already have going the other way.








Other scores this weekend :
Blackburn Rovers 3 Stoke City 0 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 2 Portsmouth 1 Saturday
Fulham 3 Middlesbrough 0 Saturday
Hull City 1 Sunderland 4 Saturday
West Ham United 0 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1 Sunday
West Bromwich Albion 2 Manchester City 1 Sunday
Everton 0 Chelsea 0 Monday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 18 11 6 1 27 12 39 +15
2 Chelsea 18 11 5 2 36 7 38 +29
3 Aston Villa 18 10 4 4 30 20 34 +10
4 Manchester United 16 9 5 2 27 10 32 +17
5 Arsenal 18 9 4 5 30 21 31 +9
6 Hull City 18 7 6 5 27 31 27 -4
7 Everton 18 7 5 6 23 25 26 -2
8 Fulham 17 6 6 5 16 12 24 +4
9 Bolton Wanderers 18 7 2 9 22 24 23 -2
10 Portsmouth 18 6 5 7 20 28 23 -8
11 Wigan Athletic 17 6 4 7 20 19 22 +1
12 Newcastle United 18 5 7 6 24 25 22 -1
13 Sunderland 18 6 3 9 21 26 21 -5
14 Middlesbrough 18 5 5 8 17 27 20 -10
15 Stoke City 18 5 5 8 17 30 20 -13
16 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 18 5 4 9 20 23 19 -3
17 West Ham United 18 5 4 9 18 26 19 -8
18 Manchester City 18 5 3 10 31 27 18 +4
19 Blackburn Rovers 18 4 4 10 20 34 16 -14
20 West Bromwich Albion 18 4 3 11 14 33 15 -19


Position before the match :  15th
Position after the match :  16th
Position after the weekend :  16th

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