Battle number 25 for Newcastle United this weekend – a late Saturday encounter away to Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs are flying this season; the recently unscathed Harry Redknapp has produced magical happenings at the London club since his arrival and now see themselves as genuine title and Champions League competitors. This one WILL NOT be easy!
Historically, the clubs have met 35 times in England’s elite league and NUFC have had the upper hand for best part. Only 13 wins for Tottenham in that time, yet 16 for Newcastle and 6 draws. At White Hart Lane, 17 clashes have produced just 6 NUFC wins, 10 for Spurs and 1 draw, a 1-1 back in October 1995.
How Spurs are doing…
• Tottenham currently produce the most shots per game in the entire league (18.4) and they get the most on target too (6.5). At home, they manage a monstrous 21.5 shots per game, again the best in the division.
• Only 5 teams concede less shots per game than Spurs.
• They have the 4th best pass success rate (84.8%) which is slightly better than their North London rivals.
• Only Man Utd and Arsenal produce more dribbles per game than Spurs presently in the Premier League.
• Only Norwich play more long balls per game – 74.
• Just 3 teams make less tackles per game (18.1). For Newcastle, it’s 19.9.
• Only Swansea commit less fouls per game.
• Spurs attack predominantly down their left hand side; 40% of their attacks initiate there with only Wolves instigating more.
Watch out for…
Gareth Bale – The Welshman has created more chances than anyone else at the club (62), and at 2.7 per game, only Juan Mata & David Silva create more often in the league. He has also produced the most crosses at Spurs (177) as well as most assists. Further to that, alongside Emmanuel Adebayor, he is Spurs’ top scorer in the Premier League with 9 goals.
Younes Kaboul – The French centre back sits 3rd in the Premier League at present for aerial wins. It’s fair to say, this was reflected in the game between these two at SJP back in October where Kaboul dominated the game aerially (7/9 aerials won).
Scott Parker – Only Alejandro Faurlin makes more tackles per game than the Englishman presently. But, at 3.9, he actually has the same value as one Yohan Cabaye!
Luka Modric – The Croatian magician produces the third most passes per game in the whole division (68.8). With those passes, he manufactures the 4th most successful long balls per game (8.1) and the 3rd most through balls per game (0.5).
Benoit Assou-Ekottu – Only Swansea’s Ashley Williams has had more touches in the Premier League than the French born Cameroonian (2037).
How to win this one
Newcastle need first to nullify Tottenham’s main threats – Gareth Bale and Luka Modric. Assuming Danny Simpson and James Perch start the game, their intuition and work ethic are going to be integral in Newcastle’s’ performance. Danny Simpson must play a concentrated game – Bale will look to turn him around at every opportunity and Simpson has got to read the game and ensure he marks him correctly depending on the pressure on the ball and the ball holder.
Perch had a very impressive game against Aston Villa and didn’t really allow any of their central midfield men to have a big bearing on the game. In a deep role, he, or his alternative, must deny Modric space in which to work, stopping him pick the ball up between our two units of four, weaving with the ball and ‘sliding’ his team mates in.
Offensively, NUFC are going to need guile and pace for this one. The long ball against Kaboul and Co. will not suffice – Newcastle will need to hit Spurs on the break and catch them out either with the space in behind their backline, due to their high line, or by catching the attacking-minded Walker & Ekotto out when disjointed on the flanks.
If NUFC have real ambitions for a high finish and consider themselves able to ‘mix it’ with the big boys again, these are the places where good performances need to take place. Whether it’s with a hard earned point or the narrowest of defeats, if Newcastle come away from WHL having made Spurs fight all the way and proved their credentials as a top Premier League side, most fans could probably make peace with that.
What Newcastle can ill-afford for, is a whitewash by Tottenham and dented morale for the two forthcoming home games – the second of which is a mouth-watering derby against the unwashed!
NUFC_Stats prediction: 2-1 Spurs