Date: Saturday 18th August 2012
Kick-off: 5.30 pm
Referee: Martin Atkinson
UK TV: ESPN
Dear reader, hello, good afternoon and welcome to our regular “match banter” feature.
As we we made a bit of a bit of a cock up with the match preview this week, with both “Jimbob” and “AndyMac” doing one, I thought we’d make a bit of a departure from the norm this time. You can see Jimbob’s original match preview here, but for this post, I have also decided to show Andy’s preview in it’s entirety to provide an alternative as it’s also very good, provides even more background for our all important first game of the Premiership, and it can’t do any harm!
I will be doing all the usual bits such as putting the team sheets up when they become available, posting some links for the game and so on. When the game is over, I will also be posting highlights and perhaps a link to the whole game if there’s one around.
So for now, it’s over to AndyMac. – Workyticket.
Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends!!!
We begin our Premier League campaign at SJP on Saturday when Andre Villas-Boas once again brings a side to the North East, only this time its not Money bags Chelski but their rather less affluent North London neighbours, Spurs.
However, maybe AVB is now casting envious glances across the Capital towards his former home as Roman splashes millions on some fine, world class players while Spurs have only managed two new signings * in Vertoghnen (ex Ajax captain) and Siggurdsson (the former Reading, Hoffenheim and Swansea player) the while Levy tries to sell his star player to Los Galacticos for £40m.
* Note that’s at least one senior quality player more than we’ve managed so far !!!
As for Newcastle United the close season has been equally disappointing in terms of numbers added to the squad after we released a host of reserve/fringe players plus 6 first team squad members including three forwards, two midfielders and a keeper.
Understandably there has been growing concern over the lack of new additions to the senior squad, so much so that we now find ourselves beginning the campaign with only one fit striker for Saturday’s game and with the possibility that we’ll have to include Reserve team forward, Adam Campbell, just to make up the squad numbers.
Considering this is also our first European campaign for some five seasons, the lack of quality signings are worrying especially when we read that Pardew claims “We might need one more” !!!!!!
On the good news front we find our opponents on Saturday are also somewhat lightweight in attacking terms as Spurs have failed, so far, to bring in any forward players since the end of last season. Now that Adebayor has officially returned to Citeh (albeit until he can sort out who will pay him his “missing” £3m), and Louis Saha finished his spell and moved on to our near neighbours, the official first team squad now has only two registered strikers. Apart from young Harry Kane, Jermain Defoe is the only recognised striker with first team experience and goals to his name in the Premier League.
Fortunately for Spurs, Bale is expected to be fit to play. After Adebayor (who was involved in 42.42% of all Spurs goals during the last campaign) Bale was their most effective player and was involved in almost 30% of Tottenham’s goals during 2011/12 indeed he ended the season with 12 goals and 9 assists from 42 appearances and will, without doubt, be their key player on Saturday.
Fortunately, this fixture has never been a drab affair and goals always seem to come in bucket loads. Overall Spurs have won 62 out of the 147 matches played between the two clubs. Newcastle have won slightly less (53) with 32 draws. The stats are a little brighter for home
matches where the Toon have won 31 games to Spurs 22.
Highest scores between the clubs in league competition:
Newcastle Utd. 7 – 2 Tottenham H. 1951/1952
Newcastle Utd. 7 – 1 Tottenham H 1996/1997
Tottenham H. 7 – 0 Newcastle Utd. 1950/1951
And who can forget the 6-1 demolition of our Cockney counterparts in the FA Cup in 2000 competition? In fact the last 0 – 0 between the two clubs was back in April 1999 at Old Trafford, also in the FA Cup semi final but of course we went on to win that tie in extra time with that boring Shearer bloke scoring twice.
Last season’s away performance can be discounted as one of our “absent defence” days (not unlike last Saturday), so hopefully, we’ll get a chance to redress the balance on Saturday just as we did back in 1951 after the previous seasons thumping.
Difficult to know exactly how either team will line up at the start of a new season and with both teams suffering from a lack of forwards but AVB seems to be favouring a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-2-1 and, as we all know, Pardew is still stuck in the 90′s with 4-4-2
What we do know is that Demba Ba is likely to sit this one out with a shin problem. HBA, Chieck and Yohan all trained today but are doubtful for Saturday’s game, which stifles our creativity somewhat and certainly leaves us lightweight up front. Colo and new boy, Vurnon Anita, should be available which begs the question “Is an Eredivisie pre season enough for Pardwho to pitch him in at the deep end ?”
So our possible line up might be:
Simpson, Taylor S, Colocinni, Santon
Obertan, Anita, Guttierez, Marveaux
Vuckic/Campbell supporting Ameobi.
Which, if correct, will persuade me to try picking some lottery numbers on Saturday night!
My own preference would be to try a 4-5-1 with Shola up front but its not an ideal situation for the Mackem slayer to be pitched into a full 90 minutes at this stage of his career.
As for Spurs I’m informed that the most likely combination will be 4-2-3-1.
Walker, Gallas or Kaboul, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto;
Sandro or Jenas, Livermore;
Sigurdsson or Lennon, Van der Vaart, Bale.
Going into this game, both clubs had a mixed pre season with our shocking 1 – 4 display at Cardiff undoubtedly the worst result of the lot. With both our African strikers “enjoying” the month of Ramadan, which finishes on Sunday 19th, its arguable whether either would be risked even if they were fit.
Unfortunately when both HBA and Cabaye are out we always struggle to find a creative spark and with our shortcomings up front we’ll be looking to get the midfield more involved in an effort to create some goalscoring chances.
Tottenham have had some decent performances in pre season, including wins against Stevenage (2-0 Sigurdsson, Falque), New York Red Bulls (2 – 1 Bale, Sigurdsson) and Watford (1 – 0 Defoe) and draws against LA Galaxy (1 – 1 Bale) and Liverpool (0- 0) with their single defeat coming at the Mestalla against a lively Valencia (0 – 2).
Similarly they are also without striking options other than last nights match winner (Defoe) in Switzerland but Bale has found the net already and so too has Siggurdsson, so their midfield may well be their most potent weapon on Saturday and has the potential to win the game for them if we dont find a way to stop Bale and Siggurdsson ?
It’s undoubtedly good to be back with competitive football on the menu again but with last Saturday’s woeful display still indeilbly etched in the
mind we’re going to have to tighten up considerably at the back if we want something from this game.
If I had the choice I’d pick Anita and Bigi to start as holding mids and allow Marveaux, Jonas and Gosling (who all have good engines) to operate behind Shola or maybe even try Obertan in a 4-6-0. (Wash my mouth out with soap and water )
Clearly without either of the main strikers we’ll struggle to put the ball in the net and even though most of the Spurs fan are worrying about the result on Saturday, I’d take a draw now with all those missing players.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim_Krul (G), Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, James Perch, Davide Santon, Hatem Ben Arfa, Cheick Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez (C), Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse,
Subs: Steve Harper (G), Ryan Taylor, Mike Williamson, Vurnon Anita, Dan Gosling, Gabriel Obertan, Shola Ameobi.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1): Brad Friedel (G), Kyle Walker, Williams Gallas (c), Younes Kaboul, Benoit Assou-Ekotto; Jake Livermore, Sandro; Aaron Lennon, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Gareth Bale; Jermain Defoe
Substitutes: Carlo Cudicini (G), Kyle Naughton, Jan Vertonghen, Jermaine Jenas, Andros Townsend, Rafael van der Vaart, Harry Kane.