Tottenham Hotspur have come out of a testing period still strongly placed in the Premier League and will seek another victory when they host Newcastle at Wembley on Saturday (12:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
Just a couple of weeks ago, Spurs were alive in all four competitions. Now, just the Champions League and Premier League remain following quick-fire eliminations from the two domestic cups: first to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup, then to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup.
The second of those defeats saw coach Mauricio Pochettino, clearly tired by the media narrative that he has to win a trophy for his work at the club to mean anything, indicate that the only competitions that truly matter to him are the ones in which Spurs still remain. While that may well be the case, the former defeat, at least, felt like an opportunity missed.
It was, though, a fixture that came at an inopportune moment. Injury problems in midfield were just beginning to ease up when suddenly the forwards began to drop. In their 1-0 win in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final against Chelsea, Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son were all in the starting XI. By the time of the return two weeks later, Alli and Kane were injured and Son was off on Asian Cup duty with South Korea.
There are few teams who wouldn’t struggle without three of their prime attacking threats, particularly in a hectic period of fixtures in various competitions. While domestic silverware is now pretty much off the table, Spurs are very strongly placed for another top-three finish in the league, even more so following the midweek round of fixtures.
Pochettino’s side welcomed Son back into the fold for the visit of Watford on Wednesday. He scored the first of two goals inside the final 10 minutes of play that saw Spurs come back from a goal behind to secure a last-gasp victory. Fernando Llorente, immobile and ineffective up until that point, rose to head home the winner, three minutes from time.
In combination with a defeat for fourth-placed Chelsea, it was a result that saw Spurs move seven points clear in third. Indeed, while a late title push is highly unlikely, both Manchester City and Liverpool ahead also dropped points, moving Spurs to within two points of the former and seven of the latter at the head of the table.
Newcastle travel south buoyed by positive developments on and off the pitch over the course of the last few days. Owner Mike Ashley seems finally to be providing some much-needed support to coach Rafael Benitez in the transfer market. There have been a couple of loan arrivals in problem positions and the £20-million purchase of Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United. Then on Tuesday they recorded a surprise 2-1 win at home to Manchester City.
Benitez’s side seemed likely to be in for a thrashing when City took the lead inside the opening 30 seconds, but they rallied after the break, with Salomon Rondon drawing them level not long past the hour mark. Inside the final quarter-hour, Sean Longstaff pounced on hesitation in the City defence to win a penalty that Matt Ritchie converted.
It was a solid and well-organised performance that yielded a second consecutive victory and saw the Magpies move five points clear of the bottom three. While there is still a long way to go and their continuation in the division is far from assured, they are certainly in a much stronger position now than they were earlier in the campaign.
After 10 matches, Newcastle were joint last in the table, having accumulated just three points with a winless start to the season. They have since displayed form similar to those teams competing for a top-half finish, with six wins, three draws and five defeats. It is enough to suggest that if this month’s signings settle, they should be okay.
Newcastle might even feel they have a solid chance of coming away from Wembley on Saturday with a positive result given Tottenham’s injury issues. Even if they fail to do so, there is unlikely to be much between the teams. Spurs have won each of the last two matches between the sides by a single goal, the same margin by which Newcastle have lost away to three other top-six sides this season.
Our Preview’s Spurs vs Newcastle Betting Tips Verdict
- The value bet has to be the outside option with the bookies, namely Newcastle to win @ best odds of 9/1 with Betfair.
Compare Betting: Tottenham vs Newcastle Odds from Best Bookies