After months of anticipation, our opening afternoon back in the big time didn’t quite go to plan, as moment of madness from Jonjo Shelvey and some untimely injuries helped Tottenham to a 2-0 win at St. James’ Park.
A competitive and compact first half display saw us go in at the break at 0-0, however injuries to Paul Dummett and Florian Lejeune left a slightly sour taste in the mouth after promising spell of pressure, with the Frenchman unable to continue after being seethed down by Harry Kane.
Early into the second half the game took a turn for the worst. Jonjo Shelvey was adjudged to have stamped on Dele Alli in an altercation with the England midfielder, and Andre Marriner showed little hesitation in showing him the red card.
Tottenham had been pushing – albeit without making any real headway – and were likely to have stepped up those efforts as the game went on, but Shelvey’s dismissal gave us a an unnecessary mountain to climb.
As you’d expect, Tottenham gained a strangle hold on the game from this point onwards and finally put their possession to good use as two goals from Dele Alli and Ben Davies arrived in the space of ten minutes to put them 2-0 up.
Shelvey’s petulance and some injury blows leave myself and many Newcastle fans heading home a frustrated figure tonight, however there are some positives to take.
We tended to rush our opportunities to spring a counter attack an were often a little too enthusiastic for our own good in possession, but in large parts of the game we competed very well, gave them very little and looked a well organised unit, so there are positives to be taken.
Christian Atsu was lively throughout and was undoubtedly our biggest threat going forward, as well as Javier Manquillo and Isaac Hayden putting in great shifts. Mikel Merino also showed his class in a late cameo – he looks a silky player with great balance and passing range.
A harsh lesson to learn on our opening game back in the top flight and a moment of madness that Shelvey must eradicate from his game. Jonjo is believed to have apologised to his team mates in the dressing room straight after the game, but it must be said that he cannot be our vice captain if he continues to show this lack of responsibility.
Now we await further injury news on Lejeune and Dummett and look ahead to Huddersifled away.