Last updated April 7th, 2021
Newcastle are in bad need of a result when they host a Tottenham Hotspur side still sniffing around the Champions League places at St James’s Park on Sunday (2.05pm; TV: Live on Sky Sports).
Just two points separate Newcastle from the bottom three. They do have a game in hand over Fulham in 18th, but a run of six matches without victory, just one win in their last eight and just two in their last 18 means momentum certainly isn’t on their side.
Steve Bruce’s team were convincingly beaten 0-3 away to Brighton before the international break. Goals either side of half-time gave their hosts a lead they added to past the hour mark. Newcastle only mustered three shots and just one on target. The result moved Brighton six points clear of the bottom three and likely left Newcastle and Fulham to scrap it out.
If there has been one saving grace for Bruce’s side, it is that after making up ground and moving to within striking distance, Fulham haven’t quite yet been able to take that final step and get the results necessary to overtake them but they cannot continue to rely on that. From somewhere, they need to find a way of getting some more points on the board.
Newcastle started the season well, taking 17 points from their opening 11 matches, but they’ve taken just 11 from the following 18, a rate of just 0.61 per match that is the worst of any team in the division in that time. The underlying numbers suggest they haven’t been quite that bad over the last 10 matches of so, but even still, they are nothing to write home about.
The task that faces them in trying to avoid the drop will be made that much harder by the fact that six of their last nine matches of the campaign are against teams currently inside the top 10: runaway leaders Manchester City, third-placed Leicester, West Ham, Spurs, Liverpool and Arsenal. If things go badly, they might not even still be in range of Fulham when the two teams meet directly at Craven Cottage on the final day of the season. It makes the 10/11 about Newcastle being relegated look quite attractive.
Spurs will certainly feel that they should be capable of taking all three points on Sunday. They have had an up and down season, but are just three points off the top four following their strong 2-0 win away to Aston Villa before the international break.
Jose Mourinho’s side dominated the first half, getting off six unanswered shots and going in ahead at the interval thanks to a Carlos Vinicius strike on the half-hour. Villa did push on in the second half, but Spurs were largely able to keep them at arms length and secured the win when Harry Kane converted a penalty he himself had won with 20 minutes left to play.
That result came after a week to forget, in which Spurs lost away to Arsenal in the North London derby and then gave up a two-goal first-leg advantage to be eliminated from the Europa League at the hands of Dinamo Zagreb. It was the latest episode in a season that has regularly swung between satisfactory and disappointing. It could still yet end with a trophy (Spurs face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final later this month) and a top-four place.
The latter is certainly still within range and if Mourinho’s side can get a good haul of points from their next five fixtures, which include matches against three sides, including Newcastle, currently within the bottom seven, they may yet find themselves with a position to defend into the final three weeks of the campaign.
Spurs have had more players on international duty than Newcastle this week, so they will likely be at a slight disadvantage in terms of fitness. Newcastle are in such a rut that it is otherwise difficult to make a case against Spurs coming away with all three points, particularly with the possibility that Son Heung-Min could return to action after a few weeks on the sidelines.
Spurs have won away to Newcastle in each of their last three encounters at St James’ Park, and have twice done so by a two-goal margin, including a 3-1 win last season. Backing a repeat performance seems a solid play. So this is the betting tips’ verdict for this NUFC vs THFC preview:
- Back Tottenham Hotspur -1.5 goals on the Asian Handicap @ 7/4.
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