The new season is back and with that comes the return of the ‘Opposition Opinion’, with us getting some thoughts from North London ahead of Tottenham’s trip to the North-East today
As ever, we are looking to bring you a view from the other side before this week’s game, interviewing an opposing fan to gain their opinions on NUFC, some insights into their own side and their thoughts on of our upcoming match.
This week we’ve been speaking to Spurs fan Keith, with him having the following to say ahead of the opening game of our season at St James’ Park:
1) What shape are you in coming into Saturday’s game? Keen to know what sort of summer you’d had both on and off the pitch..
“Been quite frustrating. I know your club is going through a frustrating time so don’t want to sound spoilt, but we have been so good and are so close to challenging and winning something that a few signings would have kept everyone positive and optimistic, however Daniel Levy has again frustrated fans by appearing to not back our wonderful manager (they didn’t sign a single player all summer).
“With so many of our players away on World Cup duty and many only just returning, it ha been a good pre-season for the youngsters but our first eleven have hardly trained.
Could be a great time to play us!”
2) I noticed Pochettino said earlier this week that it was ‘almost impossible’ for your World Cup stars to play. Do you think any of Kane, Alli, Trippier, Dier, Rose, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Dembele and Lloris will start on Saturday?
“Given how far all those players progressed in the World Cup, they only came back from their extended break earlier this week. So they’ve had no pre-season.
“I think Sanchez and Eriksen will start but not one of those mentioned.”
3) With that in mind, what are you expecting your starting 11 to be?!
“Vorm – Aurier, Sanchez, Davies, Walker-Peters – Amos, Sisoko – Lucas, Eriksen, Son, Llorente.”
4) Given that looks to be very much a second-string Spurs side, is there anyone for us to watch our for in there? Anyone you’re expecting to impress after a good pre-season and anyone you’re concerned to see start?
“I’m hoping Lucas Moura is going to shine this year, he has had half a season to adapt and has had a good pre season.
“I think we may have a weakness in the centre of defence, Sanchez is quality but if as I imagine, our World Cup players won’t be back, Poch will have to be creative.
“He may opt for Ben Davies (left-back) partnering Sanchez with maybe Kyle Walker Peters coming in at full back. It will be a new pairing so could be a weakness.”
5) With those potential issues at centre-back in mind, what do you make of them potentially coming up against Salomon Rondon? He could be making his NUFC debut on Saturday. He’d fancy his chances if playing up against a small left-back..
“I imagine he will!
“I remember him scoring for West Brom at Wembley last season and barging Sanchez off the ball with ease before scoring – and that’s not easy to do as Sanchez is no mug!
“He’s big strong player who is a proper handful. He has caused us problems in the past and I’m sure will be a great signing.
“Hopefully he will do well for you..after Saturday!”
6) On the subject of Newcastle, what have you made of our signings so far this summer and us as a team in general after a year back in the Premier League?
“I think it was a good consolidation first season back and Rafa has done a terrific job.
“I can’t say that I’m so familiar with all of your signings but I have been listening on Talksport of the fans constant anger at Ashley, similar as our fans seem constantly angry at Levy..
“Newcastle are a big club with a massive fan base and deserve a top team. You have the fans, the manager, now the players need to deliver.
“As managers like to say ‘it is never going to be an easy game’, especially against a Rafa Benitez side at a packed out St James’ Park on the first game of the season.”
7) Where do you feel the strengths and weaknesses lie in this NUFC team? Any players you’re wary of facing on Saturday and any you feel you can get at?
“I like Pérez – always looks dangerous.
“I was impressed with Matt Richie at Bournemouth and thought that was a smart signing.
“Shelvey is a top player who I really like. Thought he was unlucky not to go to the World Cup.
“It is odds on Rondon will score on his debut especially if we are massively under strength.
“Not sure about your defence as a whole but I think Yedlin and Dummet can be got at.
“If we had Harry (Kane) I would be reasonably confident, but hopefully Son can step up. Would love Llorente to shine but it hasn’t happened for him yet at Spurs.”
8) What sort of game do you think it’ll be and how do you see it panning out? Score prediction?
“I think being at home you will start strong and a lot depends on if you can score while having early pressure.
“I can see us settling down after 20-30 minutes and maybe imposing ourselves on the game then.
“You will have a half time pep talk which will lift you again for a similar pattern to the second half. The midfield battle will be decisive – espcially if we’re without Dembele, Dier and Wanyama.
“I can see you going in front in first half with us equalising in the second, leading to a tense finish with both teams going for the win.
“Prediction – 1-1.”
Some interesting insights here, with it sounding very much like Spurs are a side coming into the season with very little momentum.
They will be fielding a weakened side and seem similarly frustrated to us (albeit to a different extent!) after a frustrating summer – meaning this could be the perfect time to play them!
A big thanks to Keith for taking some time this week to speak with us!
Next up will be the thoughts of a Cardiff fan ahead of next weekend’s trip to Wales!