Does anyone else just want this season to end?
It’s fizzling out without much of a fight if our last few games are anything to go by, with a decision on a potential Saudi takeover feeling like the only thing that really matters now.
The surrender at Man City was awful and second half collapse at Watford another sign that our players may have swapped their football boots for flip flops.
We shouldn’t be on the beach already, even if a top 10 finish is out of reach and safety confirmed, but it feels like we are now a club in limbo both on and off the pitch.
Nevertheless, here we face a Spurs side who are very beatable. Not only has an uninspiring Mourinho never won at St James’ Park, his Tottenham side have won just 3 of 17 away games so far this season.
(4-2-3-1): Dubravka – Krafth, Schar, Fernandez, Manquillo – Bentaleb, Shelvey – Saint-Maximin, Almiron, Joelinton – Gayle.
Dubravka will go again in goal, and will be the only Newcastle player who’s started every league game all season if he’s named in Bruce’s XI in our final three games.
Lascelles looks set to miss out after limping off at Watford, and he could be badly missed. He might’ve struggled in our last home game against the Hammers, but he was by far our best defender at Watford and helped us look much more assured defensively before a string of costly mistakes let them back in it. With him out and Lejeune and Clark not yet ready to return, Bruce may reluctantly start Schar in a four-man defence alongside Fernandez – another player who’ll need to up his game after two rare off days in a row.
Krafth will come back in at right-back I’d imagine, with Manquillo surely set to move over to left-back now Rose is ineligible against his parent club. Yedlin is an option, but Krafth seems to be ahead of the American in the pecking order and deserves a recall after decent displays when he’s started recently.
Hayden and Sean Longstaff have been ruled out once again, so it seems Bentaleb and Shelvey could well start in midfield – especially when Schar will have to move to centre-back now Lascelles is injured.
Matty Longstaff could be an option, but Bruce hasn’t started him in the Premier League since January and questioned his commitment during Tuesday’s presser, so it doesn’t seem like he’s about to come back into the side!
If it’s Bentaleb who gets the nod alongside Shelvey, he’ll have to be much better against his former club if he has any chance of earning a permanent deal. He looked slick and strong against Bournemouth and West Ham, but was a complete liability against City and was rightfully dropped against Watford as a result.
In attack, Saint-Maximin needs to be looked after given how much he faded in that second half at Watford, but the fact he and Almiron were spotted full of smiles in training this week suggests they’ll both be fine for Spurs.
The other spot in the trio behind the lone striker is surely between Ritchie, Joelinton and Lazaro. The latter has impressed in patches, however it seems so clear that the Inter Milan loanee isn’t in Bruce’s plans. As for the others, Ritchie gave away the penalty at Watford and didn’t offer enough, so I can see Joelinton playing out wide once again after he was rested over the weekend – especially when this is the side he scored his first goal against back in August last year!
Up top, Gayle has earned himself another start. He’s now bagged 3 goals and 1 assist since lockdown and will surely be given another chance to prove himself.
Here’s a few of the ‘ones to watch’ in Jose Mourinho’s Spurs side:
Son Heung-min – The South Korean will be a real handful for Krafth and will look to cut in and run at Fabian Schar when he gets a chance too. A devastating finisher who could be their biggest threat if we give him too much room.
Harry Kane – Has had a difficult season, with injuries and a dip in form under Mourinho’s arrival limiting him to just 13 goals so far. He’s not scored in his last three so will be desperate to find the net here to boost Spurs’ chances of European qualification.
Steven Bergwijn – Manquillo has been a reliable option this season, but he’s struggled in his last two appearances when forced to fill in for Danny Rose at left-back, with Bowen giving him a tough afternoon in the 2-2 draw with West Ham and him pulling down Sarr at Watford over the weekend. He’ll have to be much better here if the quick, direct and dangerous former PSV star starts down Spurs’ right-hand side.
Jamaal Lascelles is set to miss out after limping off at Watford and missing training this week.
Danny Rose is ineligible against his parent club, with Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden ruled out with hamstring injuries.
The game will come too soon Florian Lejeune and Andy Carroll, while Ciaran Clark has been ruled out for the season.
For Spurs, Dele Alli looks set to miss out once again, while Eric Dier is also suspended.
I thought we’d react to the drubbing at Man City with a win at Watford. We looked on course at half-time but totally threw it away in the second half and had no response to the costly mistakes, via a combination of Bruce’s awful subs and a lack of energy / ideas on the field.
If we are at it, motivated and have ASM and Almiron at their best then anything could happen, but the fact we’ll be without Lascelles at the back and forced to start a seemingly uninterested Schar in a four-man defence doesn’t fill me with confidence.
Hoping for a response and reaction to recent collapses on the road, but fearing a third straight defeat!
Prediction: Newcastle 1-2 Spurs