Date: Saturday 11th Feb, 2012.
Referee: Andre Marriner.
It would be tempting to think that Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp had been distracted by one or two other things this week whilst preparing his ‘Spurs squad for this weeks game, but that would probably be folly. With the weather and his other “distractions”, ‘Arry couldn’t even make it to Tottenham’s last game against Liverpool away, and they still drew 0-0 against the mighty Reds.
One could also say that the ‘Spurs supremo is having something of a “lucky” week too, up before the beak as a suspected tax evader one minute, and hot favourite as England manager the next. Though some might even think that the could be more damaging in the long run, a perfect way to ruin a glittering career if some of the previous incumbents are anything to go by. Even our own Silver Supremo, Alan Pardew, felt the need to rule himself out for some reason, though one or two of the media have been quick to link him not with the England job, but with a certain managerial position in North London which may or may not be coming up in the near future. But enough of such silliness, let’s get on with the game!
Stats, previous matches etc…
Of course our last game against Tottenham was a very creditable 2-2 draw. Demba Ba and Shola Ameobi scored for us, with Rafael Van der Vaart (penalty) and Jermain Defoe bagging the goals for the North Londoners. It was a game which helped to establish Newcastle United’s credibility when some in the media speculated that our high flying League position was more a matter of not facing quality opposition than anything else, seemingly forgetting that our first game was another creditable draw against Tottenham’s bitter rivals, Arsenal. Both of those games were at home though. In our last six games at the Lane, we have won two and lost four (L-L-W-W-L-L) with our last victory at their place being that memorable 4-1 drubbing in March 2008. In that game Nicky Butt, Geremi, Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins did the honours for us, with Darren Bent scoring their consolation goal. As you can see from the scorers alone though, two very different teams (and managers) will be facing each other this time, and most recently at White Hart Lane we went down 0-2 with Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale hitting the back of the net for the home side.
Looking at Tottenham’s last six Premiership results against other teams, they have won 3, drawn 2 and lost 1. Though ‘Spurs may still be two places above us in the Premiership table, our own record in our last six Premiership games has actually been marginally better in points terms with four wins and two losses (12 points against their 11).
|Last six games (Premiership)|
On the other hand, perhaps more telling statistics for this fixture would be their Tottenham’s home form against our away form from the beginning of the season.
|Tottenham home results v Newcastle away results (Premiership)|
Tottenham have 6 clean sheets at home this season in the Premiership (1 game out of 2), Newcastle United have four (1 game out of 3) playing away.
Tottenham have scored an average of 2.00 goals at home this season in the Premiership, Newcastle United have scored an average of 1.50 goals per game in away matches, though this is exactly the same as their average for home matches too.
Tottenham have conceeded an average of 0.83 goals per game at home this season, Newcastle United have conceeded an average of 1.58
So it would seem to be advantage Tottenham there when you consider that they’re on home turf and we aren’t. as well as being one of the few teams who are above us in the league, they also have the second best home record in the Premiership too (behind Manchester City). In the Magpies’ favour though, we have won four of our last five games, yet Tottenham have only won a paltry two.
Team news and squads
Diminutive dynamic duo Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon should be returning for this game after both picking up hamstring strains in Tottenham’s FA Cup victory over Watford at the end of January. Rafael van der Vaart will definitely be out though with a calf injury. Finally Ledley King (knee), Younes Kaboul (knee) and Sandro (calf) are all doubtful and will face late fitness tests.
Squad: Brad Friedel (G), Heurelho Gomes (G), Carlo Cudicini (G), Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Danny Rose, Vedran Corluka, Bongani Khumalo, Kyle Walker, Michael Dawson, Ryan Nelsen, Jake Livermore, Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon, Niko Kranjcar, Steven Pienaar, Luka Modric, Scott Parker, Livermore, Jermain Defoe, Giovanni Dos Santos, Emanuel Adebayor, Louis Saha, Simon Dawkins, Cameron Lancaster, Massimo Luongo.
Injured: Rafael Van der Vaart,
Doubtful: Ledley King, Younes Kaboul, Sandro.
On the Magpies’ injury front, Leon Best and Ryan Taylor were casualties of last week’s victory over Aston Villa. Best seems to be the worst of the two with a medial ligament injury which should keep him out for well over a month yet. Taylor picked up an ankle injury in the tackle during that game which should see him out for a couple of weeks or so. Meanwhile Sammy Ameobi has picked up a fairly nasty knacked knee, and joins Steven Taylor (Achilles) and Sylvain Marveaux (groin) on the list of long term crocks. Yohan Cabaye will serve the last game of his ridiculous, retrospective three game suspension and finally, Cheick Tiote is busy with the small matter of an Africa Cup of Nations final with the Ivory Coast.
Squad: Tim Krul (G), Rob Elliot (G), Steve Harper (G), Danny Simpson, Davide Santon, Shane Ferguson, James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini (C), Mike Williamson, Tamas Kadar, Gabriel Obertan, Danny Guthrie, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jonas Gutierrez, Dan Gosling, Mehdi Abeid, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse, Shola Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands.
Injured: Leon Best (medial ligament), Ryan Taylor (ankle), Sammy Ameobi (knee), Steven Taylor (Achilles), Sylvain Marveaux (groin).
Suspended: Yohan Cabaye.
Well, 4-4-1-1 has been the formation of choice for ‘Arry in recent times, however at least some of this has been fashioned around key player Rafael van der Vaart operating “in the hole” so to speak. However without the Dutchman it looked more like a 4-5-1 in Tottenham’s last game, a 0-0 bore draw with Liverpool. Although solid in defence, they certainly didn’t look like their usual potent selves in attack, so ‘Arry may try something more positive this time, perhaps with another striker at the front.
On the Magpies’s side, Alan Pardew’s experiments with different approaches, partly to bring the talented Ben Arfa into the side have met with limited success at best. On the other hand his return to the more straightforward “English” approach he feels most comfortable with saw a return to winning ways. At least some of this was also due to the return of the striker who has scored at least half of our goals this season, along with the addition of his equally prolific mate from the Senegalese national side. However having two such prolific strikers in Ba and Cisse will probably reinforce a return to the bread and butter approach which has served him so well so far.
So, expect a continution of the return to a 4-4-2 formation, lots of huffing and puffing up and down the flanks as wingers and full backs track back and overlap, lots of crosses coming into the area, defending from the front and lots and much hard graft going on all over the pitch, Oh! and Benny on the bench. Pep Guardiola had Johan Cruyff as his managerial mentor, but Alan Pardew had Terry Bullivant and this is what he feels most at home with.
What the managers are saying
Looking forward to the big game in North London, Alan Pardew paid homage to ‘Spurs, but seemed confident that his side could continue to surpise and confound the critics saying:
“It’s a game where tactically we have to be astute and make sure we stay in the match.”
“Spurs play some fantastic football, and in Gareth Bale they have perhaps the best player in the Premier League in terms of effective ability.
“They make it very difficult for you, they retain the ball and Scotty Parker has improved them considerably.
“So it is tough opposition, but the one thing we’ve done all year is surprise people, and hopefully we can surprise people again.
“They are not in our sights – they are way past us. But we are just nagging away and that’s where we should be because we are a big club.
“This game isn’t the be all and end all for us. After this one Cabaye and Cheick Tiote come back into our squad and that will make us considerably stronger. But this is still a game where the squad must rise to the challenge.”
Meanwhile as I mentioned at the start of this piece, old ‘Arry has had a few things on his plate recently, but inbetween all the other stuff, he still had something to say about the Magpies and this afternoon’s game. On the off field distractions he began:
“I’m just getting on with my job. I am trying to pick a team for tomorrow and then for next week at Stevenage.
“All my focus is just on Tottenham. It’s been hard to get where we are and this is my job. This is what I get paid to do.”
Focusing on the game itself he continued:
“They are playing well so it will be really hard.
“It has the makings of a great game. Alan Pardew has done a fantastic job there.
“He wasn’t really wanted when he took over from Chris Hughton, who was popular, but he has won the fans round and you have to give him and (owner) Mike Ashley credit for that.”