This weekend surely sees Tottenham involved in one of the most fascinating clashes of the season. Ordinarily, one might talk in such terms about a London derby or a cup game, but the combination of Tottenham’s dramatic decline and Newcastle United’s struggle to finally become a top-six side makes this an irresistible spectacle.
Securing tickets to see the Spurs this season has been problematic, not just because Ange Postcoglou has been winning, but because the football has been on the front foot, fast, frenetic, and littered with goals. No side in the current European qualifying places has scored more frequently than Spurs’ 22 Premier League goals.
The decline of the N17 side has been down to injury, indiscipline, and a fundamental failure to provide yet another coach with the requisite depth that one would expect from a side that is a regular high roller in the Deloitte Money League, operating out of a billion-pound stadium. The idea that Postecoglou is forced to play individuals who have arguably run their course as top-flight footballers is frankly scandalous. Players such as Ben Davies and Oliver Skipp had been used in an extremely sparingly manner until there was no choice but to include them. That’s the grim reality of recent selections, a manager whose hand has sadly been forced.
Tottenham Hotspur’s possible starting line-up:
Vicario; Porro, Romero, Davies, Udogie; Sarr, Bissouma; Kulusevski, Lo Celso, Richarlison; Son
Newcastle United’s possible starting line-up:
Dubravka; Trippier, Lascelles, Schar, Livramento; Joelinton, Guimaraes, Miley; Almiron, Isak, Gordon
It’s no coincidence then that Spurs have gone from a side that was being touted as title challengers to one with just one win in their last six games. One key issue is that the disruption has shone a glaringly bright light on the paucity of striking talent at Hotspur Way. Richarlison has never been vaguely prolific for any club side, and his irritatingly useless displays further underline Big Ange being forced to select another player who isn’t the required standard. £50 million wasted. Add to this that Harry Kane wasn’t replaced with a proven goalscorer, and the deficit hits a whopping £150 million. For fans of horror movies, if anything were to happen to Guglielmo Vicario, we would be in real trouble. Hugo Lloris isn’t even making the bench, and Fraser Forster’s last performance against Fulham in the cup was worryingly inept.
Newcastle will be without Sven Botman (knee), Callum Wilson (thigh), Jacob Murphy (shoulder), Dan Burn (back), Elliot Anderson (back), Joe Willock (calf), Sean Longstaff (ankle), Harvey Barnes (toe), Matt Targett (thigh) and Javi Manquillo (groin) all remain out of action, while Sandro Tonali remains suspended.
Spurs will be minus Ivan Perisic (knee), Manor Solomon (knee), Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring), James Maddison (ankle), Micky van de Ven (thigh), Rodrigo Bentancur (ankle), Ashley Phillips (ankle), and Eric Dier (groin)
Make no mistake, Tottenham are still good to watch, it’s just that their failure to take their chances is beginning to take its toll. If a fan wants to watch an exhilarating game of football, then Spurs would have to be the first choice. St. James’ Park is a tremendous stadium set in a real football city, and this without a doubt will be a special game.