Well it took the two Demba’s less than 90 minutes to get in Toon in the new look Newcastle United forward line, which is just as well, because we need these two in top gear for this trip to White Hart Lane – arguably the toughest of our remaining fixtures.
Hopefully the stress and headache of his protracted Court case mixed in with the head turning, exciting prospect of becoming next England manager following Fabio Capello’s resignation will ensure Harry Redknapp has not prepared for us as well as he might normally do. On the other hand, this past week will more likely have strengthened his resolve and determination to get a positive result this weekend to thank his fans for all their support and encouragement.
Youngsters John Bostock (Sheffield Wednesday) and Thomas Carroll (Derby) join Vedran Corluka (Leverkusen) & former Toon defender Sebastian Bassong on loan. The unfavoured David Bentley is out until April with a knee injury. William Galls (calf), Jermaine Jenas (achilles) and Tom Huddlestone (ankle) are all on the long term sick list. Striker Jermaine Defoe (hamstring) is rated 50/50 whilst Younes Kaboul (knee), Aaron Lennon (hamstring) and Rafael Van Der Vaart (calf) all face late fitness tests. New signings Ryan Nelsen and Louis Saha may come into the fold.
Squad from: Friedel, Cudicini, Kaboul, Dawson, King, Walker, Assou-Ekotto, Nelsen, Khumalo, Bale, Lennon, Parker, Modric, Rose, Livermore, Sandro, Fredericks, Luongo, Van Der Vaart, Rose, Dos Santos, Kranjcar, Adebayor, Saha, Defoe, Lancaster.
Youngsters Haris Vukic (Cardiff City), and James Tavernier (MK Dons) are on loan. Alan Smith is also at MK Dons whilst he runs his contract down. Leon Best (knee) and Ryan Taylor (ankle) join Sylvain Marveaux (groin), Steven Taylor (achilles) and Sammy Ameobi (knee) on the long term treatment table. Cheik Tiote (C’ote D’Ivoire) will play his part in the final of the African Cup of Nations this weekend, whilst Frenchman Yohan Cabaye completes the last of a three match ban for violent conduct.
Squad from: Krul, Elliot, Ferguson, Santon, Williamson, Kadar, Coloccini, Simpson, Perch, Gosling, Guthrie, Abeid, Ben Arfa, Obertan, Gutierrez, Lovenkrands, Ba, Cisse, Shola Ameobi.
Shamrock’s Top 10 Really Interesting Stats And Facts:
1 – There have been 17 Tottenham V Newcastle Premier League fixtures. Of those, the Toon have won 6, losing 10. Yes, only 1 draw – in 1995!
2 – In terms of Major honours, Spurs have the edge on the Magpies having won 17 competitions to our 11.
3 – Emmanuel Adebayor (41) has been caught offside this season more than any other Premier League player.
4 – Luka Modric (1444) is the 5th most prolific passer in the league. The top five is shared by some familiar names – Danny Murphy, Mikel Arteta and Yaya Toure – however in 1st place by some considerable distance (1625) is Swansea’s Ashley Williams!
5 – Demba Ba (16) is still going strong as the league’s 2nd most prolific goalscorer ahead of the likes of Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero (both 15), although Arsenal’s Robin Van Persie (22) is running away with it.
6 – Onto betting – Spurs are hot favourites with odds of 4/9 compared to Newcastle’s 13/2. For a real tasty bet I have to go for a 2-2 draw with our very own Papiss Cisse to score 1st. This will fetch 100-1 with Paddy Power. Two sides that know how to score against each other makes this a really good punt.
7 – This week’s Birthday Boy is Tottenham’s Rafael Van Der Vaart, who turns 29 on the day this fixture takes place. If he’s fit, he may well be extra motivated to celebrate his birthday in style…
8 – Shola Ameobi is still looking for his 50th Career league goal for us, or his 2nd of this season.
9 – There have been more than a few players to have represented both Tottenham and Newcastle in the last 30 years. Some of which include: Jermaine Jenas, David Ginola, Les Ferdinand, Paul Gascoigne, Chris Waddle, Steven Carr, Ruel Fox, Kevin Scott, Jonathan Woodgate, Sebastian Bassong, Sol Campbell, Scott Parker and Louis Saha.
10- David Ginola loves Newcastle more than he loves Spurs. It’s a fact.
Tactical thoughts and ponderings:
Our lads are doing well this season. They are grinding out results and playing as a team. We might have a small squad, but they are all pulling in the same direction and players like Gabriel Obertan and James Perch have demonstrated over the last couple of matches that the never-say-die attitude reaches deep into the psyche of every player. Compare these boys to the expensive mercenaries of the Owen/Viduka years and we can be rest assured that regardless of the result in London tomorrow, our boys will be doing their best to make us fans proud.
On a personal basis I see this game as the toughest fixture we will face in the league this season, albeit not the most important one. There was a time when our respective clubs were on an even keel, however whilst we spent the last few seasons stepping backwards and then into the Championship – Tottenham have gone from strength to strength, winning the League Cup and enjoying Champions League football. Now they are one of the finest footballing sides in the league and currently sit 3rd, head and shoulders above London powerhouses Arsenal and Chelsea.
Generally Tottenham play a 4-4-1-1. Their back five is steady with Friedel, Assou-Ekotte, Dawson, King and Walker likely to start. It’s worth noting that although they are known for their attacking prowess and technical play these days, Spurs’ defence is equally as good. They have conceded only 25 goals – 6 less than us – whilst scoring 8 more than us. We cannot exactly blame our mini defensive crisis for the above gap though, as Tottenham’s Ledley King has weaker knees than Sven when he looks at Nancy Del’olio.
Young Kyle Walker is developing into a very reliable full back. He’s good in the tackle, got a bit of pace and decent in possession. To be honest, I can’t see our wingers getting much change out of their full backs. They are both pretty solid. We will have more joy in the middle. Dawson is prone to the odd suicidal mistake and should be put under constant pressure. I quite fancy Cisse to ghost him out of position, whilst Ba can go to work on Ledley King. King is top notch in just about every aspect of the defender’s game, his only weaknesses being the recurring injuries forcing him off early and a lack of pace.
Demba Ba is more of an all rounder than Cisse from the little I know about him so far, so he will be more suited to the battle that King will no doubt offer. We know Pardew likes a solid 4-4-2 shape and after Cisse’s excellent debut, we must surely expect him to start this game. We will need to have a good shape about us after all, if we are to avoid being pulled all over the place by Tottenham’s clinical midfield.
Scott Parker will be playing the Tiote role, Gareth Bale being joined on the wing by Niko Krancjar – who has forced his way into the 1st team reckoning recently. Aaron Lennon will probably be on the bench if fit, saved to cause us maximum damage late on in the game. We are talking about a hell of a lot of pace being thrown at our full backs and Krancjar has a fierce long range strike as well as superb crossing ability. Add to that Luka Modric’s uncanny ability to sow moves together seamlessly with top notch spacial awareness and passing ability probably only rivalled in recent times by Paul Scholes and what you get is a dangerous, well balanced midfield.
Looking at that, it’s hard to see how Newcastle can contain them. Guthrie is coming into his own in the Cabaye role, but he does not quite have the killer instinct or tenacity that takes our Frenchman up that extra level. James Perch has really stepped up into the anchorman role recently, but I feel we are really going to miss Tiote’s strength and power for this one. Frankly, we could be in for a pummelling if our midfield is not playing at it’s absolute best.
Our options are limited on the wings due to injuries, but we will need pace to track Gareth Bale and that means starts for Gutierrez as well as Obertan. I know Ben Arfa will want a start and some fans are calling out for him, however I think Big Dave has it spot on when he describes the lad as a ‘luxury player.’ Great to unlock defences, but this is not a game to carry passengers in midfield or defensively. Our boys have to be ready to get stuck in for the duration of the game and I can’t see Benny being tenacious defensively or disciplined enough in keeping possession to be more of a pro than a con… As a late sub though, he might just take the pressure off us when we are looking for an outlet.
Adebayor will be up front with either Van Der Vaart behind him, Defoe or Saha alongside him, or Modric playing higher with Jake Livermore playing centrally. We all know who our own back five is, so I’m not going to dwell on that. It’s clearly in midfield where this game will be decided.
I really would love it if we could get a result here, but that would largely rely on getting service up to Cisse and Ba. That could prove to be a bit too difficult for this one and there is no shame in it, so I’m going to say with a heavy heart that my prediction for this game is 3-1 to Spurs.
The man-in-the-middle for this one is 41-year-old Andre Marriner. He has been in the Select Group for six years and is from Birmingham. No senior International or European experience and no Cup Finals to his name, so very much still looking to build a reliable reputation for himself. He has taken charge 11 Newcastle games, of which we have won only three. Our last game under him was the 2-1 victory over Everton late last year.
A word from Alan Pardew:
We’ve got ourselves in a good position, we’ll see what we can do. We haven’t drawn or got beaten (recently). We can go there and give it a go. Who knows?”
“There’s no pressure (on us). We’ve set up Tottenham now. We haven’t done well in London. Maybe we’ll do something – we’ll see.”
Read what you want into that, but to me it means he expects a loss!
Date: Saturday 11th February
Venue: White Hart Lane
Howay the lads!