Wednesday night’s match sees two teams face-off whose ambitions going forward on the pitch have been disrupted by off-field issues behind the scenes, as Newcastle host Tottenham at St James’ Park.
After another transfer that saw a solitary loan signing come in and the sale of a key player without a replacement acquired, tensions are high at St James’ Park as shown during the recent North East derby defeat. The defeat at the weekend to Chelsea wasn’t a poor result – the London club are reaching their peak form – but the recent form, 1 win in 7 games in 2014, is a worry for Pardew as mid-table obscurity firmly sets in for Newcastle.
Tottenham are also having an eventful season – even for them – with record signings, replacing the manager and massive defeats. Tim Sherwood has steadied the ship with 6 wins from 11 games and keeping Tottenham within touching distance (3 points in this instance) of fourth placed Liverpool, but defeats in both cups including a convincing loss to Arsenal and another heavy defeat to Manchester City show the weaknesses are still present for Spurs.
With the departure of Cabaye and the injury to Tiote, Newcastle’s midfield featured full-back Santon in the centre of midfield against Chelsea. As Tim Sherwood favours a 442 system, this will be an important area against Spurs and offers the chance for Anita to firmly make his mark on the Newcastle team.
A respectable passing ability – 85% passing accuracy – will help to ease the departure of Cabaye and despite playing a deeper role Anita will have to take over the creativity in the middle of the park; having already creating 18 chances this season.
Injuries and a change in manager have meant Eriksen hasn’t had the season many thought he would after a quick start after signing late in August. Since the turn of the year though, Eriksen has featured in every game and his creative spark will be needed to quickly silent the Newcastle fans.
Completing 202 passes in the final third, Eriksen has created more chances than any other Tottenham player (31) this season.
- Newcastle have a very good record against Tottenham at St James’ Park, losing only 3 times since the beginning of the Premier League era and winning 11.
- Since the demolition against Manchester City at the Eithad, Tottenham are unbeaten away from home (6 games).
The Newcastle squad is ravaged with injuries, but Gouffran, Obertan and Cisse could return to the squad after late fitness tests. Debuchy, Tiote, Bigirimana, Coloccini and Ryan Taylor are all set to miss out.
Tottenham have no new injury doubts, however, Chirches and Lamela will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.
Previous games at home against the top 6 have seen Newcastle gain some good results, but in current form and the current context, any repeat of those performances seem far away. Tottenham, for all their faults, will run out easy winners.