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Newcastle United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur; what did we learn?

Losing to Newcastle United wasn’t the ideal stat to the season, but neither was travelling to St. James’ Park for the opening game of the campaign.

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Losing to Newcastle United wasn’t the ideal stat to the season, but neither was travelling to St. James’ Park for the opening game of the campaign. A solitary Timothee Atouba strike back in 2004 was the last time Tottenham Hotspur picked up all three points on Tyneside, and Saturday was to be no different.

Head coach Andre Villas-Boas opted to start new signing Jan Vertonghen from the bench, preferring William Gallas to partner Younes Kaboul in the heart of the defence, while handing the captains armband to the experienced Frenchman. Midfielder Sandro, fresh from his exploits with Brazil at the Olympic Games, started alongside Jake Livermore in the centre of the park, while Jermain Defoe was favoured ahead of Rafael van der Vaart in a starting XI that many had expected.

Spurs started off well enough, holding off the attacking threat of Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa, while looking to hit Newcastle on the break, which was working to an extent with Defoe and Gareth Bale both hitting the woodwork in the first half, while Sandro and Livermore, despite picking up early cautions, were stifling the input of Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye.

However, the hard work came undone nine minutes into the second half when Danny Simpson, with too much time on the right, put’s a ball into the box. Kyle Walker manages to get his head on the ball to alleviate the danger, albeit, temporarily. Gallas, unaware of Ba at the back-post, fails to close down the Senegalese front-man, who has time to bring the ball down and pick his spot at the far post with an unstoppable curling effort past Brad Friedel.

Spurs manage to restore parity on the 76th minute through Defoe. Bale picks out Aaron Lennon on the left and the wide-man opts against going for goal and lofts a delightfully weighted ball to the back post. Defoe meets the cross with his head, but Tim Krul gets down well to deny his initial effort. Nevertheless, the England man showed good reactions to meet the follow up and smash past the Dutchman.

Newcastle restored their one goal advantage just four minutes later after some good work by Ben Arfa. The Frenchman took a short corner before receiving the ball back, but Lennon is quick to close him down. Van der Vaart joins the winger and Ben Arfa looks as though he has too much to do when encountered by the duo. However, after attempting to dart between the two, the Dutchman clumsily leaves his leg out and fouls the Newcastle man, leaving Martin Atkinson with little choice but to point to the spot. Ben Arfa comfortably dispatches the resulting spot-kick, sending Friedel the wrong.

What we learnt

Sandro and Livermore work well together

Despite receiving a caution each during the first-half, both Sandro and Livermore provided a sturdy partnership in the middle of the park. Both looked comfortable on the ball and provided enough steel to stifle the input of Cabaye and Tiote. The two could again be utilised in tough away fixtures this campaign and did enough to warrant a starting berth again next week, should no investment be made between now and Saturday’s encounter with West Bromwich Albion.

We need a striker

Defoe may have netted in the encounter and struck the post in the first half, but he isn’t the striker that Spurs need. Physically frail, the England international isn’t the right striker to lead the front-line, especially with Villas-Boas opting to play the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1. He may be ideal to come off the bench late on, but starting; he isn’t a viable option. The 34-year-old said a new front-man remains a priority and that he and chairman Daniel Levy are both working hard to bring one in, following the loss to Newcastle. As fair as I, and a majority of all Spurs fans are concerned; the sooner than happens, the better.

Knee jerking isn’t necessary right now

Following the pre-season defeat to Valencia, a number of Spurs fans were pondering how this season was going to turn out. Some were at it again following the loss to Newcastle. It’s one game, and as mentioned, Spurs haven’t picked up maximum points at St. James’ Park since 2004. As clichéd as it sounds, the season is a marathon, not a sprint. Let’s get behind the team for the upcoming encounter against West Brom and secure maximum points at White Hart Lane.

Don’t jump on Andre Villas-Boas’ back

When Harry Redknapp was sacked back in June, much of the media were up in arms about his dismissal. From the off, Villas-Boas was always going to be scrutinised; one bad result and he is in the firing line. Spurs fans, however, were stuck together and stood by the Portuguese tactician, blissfully aware that could be the man to the club forward. One negative result doesn’t change this. There are plenty of positives to take from the defeat to Newcastle, regardless of the loss and it’s important that fans are patient as he looks to integrate his ideas into the changing Spurs squad.

The sooner Modric is gone, the better

As good as Sandro and Livermore were on Saturday, both lack the creative nous to really make things tick going forward. Luka Modric’s input was evidently lacking on Saturday, but with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding his protracted move to Real Madrid; it’s clear to see it’s having an adverse effect on the team. Not mentally, but more in terms of the overall performance of the team. With the saga dragging closer and closer to the transfer deadline, it will be better for all concerned that Modric is sold prior to September 1st. A new deep-lying playmaker is essential, with FC Porto’s Joao Moutinho still the fans favourite as his direct replacement. 

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. AndyMac

    August 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Your last point “The sooner Modric is gone, the better” should be aimed at your man Levy.

    Where is it written because Chelski were willing to pay £35m for Modric a year ago (which Levy turned down in a kind of “Over my dead body/Modric is going nowhere” Superman routine) that Real Madrid or anyone else for that matter has to cough up what you missed out on last season ?

    You didnt want the money then but now you do but it aint the same money so whose fault is that ? Chelski's or RM's or Spuds ?

    If you dont get RM to cough up until the last day of the window, lets face it they dont really NEED Modric do they ?, then you're screwed. Maybe someone should be telling Levy a few home truths ? god knows we have the same problem with the Fatman in not spending money he does have !

  2. IoanX

    August 20, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Unfortunately keeping Vertonghen in the bench proved fatal for Spurs.
    He should be used at least as a substitution, for example immediately after Spurs equalizer, to consolidate the midfield and support the defence but as well to help the attack like he did on Wednesday's friendly with his national team where he scored a goal.
    A very serious mistake by AVB that probably has cost Spurs some valuable points.

  3. feenix

    August 20, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    I just have to say if Daniel Levy is working hard to bring a striker in then I hope he never takes it easy. The guy is a prick with no thought of what's best for the team. Continually leaving it to the last minute, concentrating on the wrong areas of the team to bring in players and also not knowing what it he is doing when it comes to the transfer market. He must think it is ok not to bring in players early to help the coach bed his players in. I bet we end up with just Adebayor, who is not the type of loan striker we so desperately need or some striker that costs no more than £10 million. He just lacks the ambition that the team so desperately have earnt and need. As long as he is at the helm then we will never progress. You can tell I am completely fed up with his antics when it comes to the team. It has been like this now since he sacked Damien Comolli. He hasn't replaced Berbatov and the Spurs fans have been waiting for a decent striker since then. I am losing all my passion for Spurs because of this egotistical midget.

  4. JJ

    August 20, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    I think Defoe did well. What more do you want from a striker than scoring a goal and looking dangerous? He worked hard and did a great job. Silly mistakes cost us, not lack of attacking threat.

  5. Chris

    August 20, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    And out come the fickle fans. Couple of points:

    1) Spurs can't compete with the money of Chelsea/Man City, so what's the point in just throwing money at these over-valued players. 'end up with some striker that costs no more than 10 million' – 10 million? That's crap loads of money! Yay bring Redknapp back and lets go the way of Portsmouth.

    2) Vertonghen hasn't played a game in the league yet – starting away from home at a place where we haven't won for ages is a risk. Makes sense to leave his debut for a home game – even if you don't agree with the decision, surely you can see it a reasonable decision a manager has to make.

    Naah, what am I saying – of course you're right. We should have brought him on and he would have scored 3 and assisted 2 and a hero's parade all the way home. Pass the crystal ball when you're done with it, please.

    3) Modric – we got another year out of him and some of the best football I've had the pleasure of watching for years. I kinda actually enjoyed it, sorry if that puts you out. Also, it avoids the accusation of us being just a selling club (unlike, you know who). And now he won't go to a direct competitor. Plus it annoyed Chelsea. All of these things are good, but I guess there's no pleasing some fans.

    Just as someone should be telling Redknapp his teams always ran out of steam in the last 3rd of the season, someone must have told Levy that doing out transfers in late August basically screws the first 2-5 games of the season. And he must think that this is ok, rather than pissing money away because we're not City or Chelsea.

  6. Victor Meldrew

    August 21, 2012 at 4:19 am

    We can't blame DL for everything. He keeps the Balance Sheets in the black. He buys what we can afford in terms of Transfer Fees and Wages. HR let us down last year. He didn't stay focused. Until we get a massive cash injection, either by ENIC, or we sell to a mega rich consortium we will always be the “Nearly Team”. Be thankful that DL has not done a Leeds, Glasgow Rangers or Pompey. There is always next season. At the moment, unless something unexpectedly happens I think 5 or 6 would be about all we can hope for.

  7. wiseone

    August 21, 2012 at 5:40 am

    Your comments on Defoe and your remarks sounds racist like, I'm sorry but if he keeps scoring I don't care how short or tall he is , he is paid to score goal, and so I wonder what he has to do to please people like u

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