The opening match of the Premier League weekend will see Tottenham host Newcastle United at Wembley. It will be a fascinating contest as the home side are still struggling with injuries and the visitors will be arriving with a spring in their step. Mauricio Pochettino will view the midweek round of games as a positive, as his team increased their lead on Chelsea and Manchester United while closing the gap on the teams above. A title challenge remains unlikely, but it is far from impossible. They must win on Saturday to retain that outside chance.
January passed without any signings, making it another transfer window that has left Tottenham supporters feeling frustrated. Pochettino will be worried about how the squad will cope if there are any more injuries, but their Premier League chances have been strengthened by their domestic cup exits last month. They were far from their best against Watford and required a late comeback to snatch the three points. The main encouraging performance from that match came from Fernando Llorente who contributed a goal and an assist.
Newcastle United supporters will go into this weekend rejuvenated after an excellent week for the club. After being knocked out of the cup with a whimper, the frustration was growing and a difficult situation looked to be facing the club. However, news emerged that the club were set to break their transfer record to sign Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United. This was followed up with an incredible victory over Manchester City on Tuesday night. The future looks brighter and Rafa Benitez may have seen enough to convince him to stay. They will be difficult opponents on Saturday and they will be looking to get a positive result.
- Tottenham have lost three of their previous four home matches against Newcastle in the Premier League.
- Newcastle United have the 7th best defence in the Premier League, conceding only 32 goals.
It was a huge boost for Tottenham to get Son Heung-min back sooner than anticipated. He returned to the team on Wednesday night and scored the equaliser to start the turnaround against Watford. Pochettino wouldn’t have believed his bad luck when Son’s exit coincided with an injury to Harry Kane. The pair are responsible for a large share of Spurs’ goals and they found it difficult to cope without the duo. The next few weeks will remain difficult for the club until Kane returns to action. Their South Korean attacker has a huge role to play over this period and if he can continue to score, the side should pick up the results required. This season, he has contributed nine goals and five assists in the Premier League, averaging 2.5 shots per game. Newcastle will be worried about his dynamism and direct style on Saturday.
The Scottish international scored his first Premier League goal of the season against Manchester City during the week. It led to Newcastle taking the lead and he will be delighted with the nerve he showed prior to the penalty being taken. Ritchie is a player that Benitez trusts greatly and he is used in a number of roles. Currently, he is being used as a left wing-back and he is thriving in the position. His work rate means that he is perfect for the role, as he can contribute to the defensive effort and get forward to provide an option in attack. On Saturday, his crossing and set-piece delivery will be important as the Tottenham defence can be vulnerable aerially.
Son Heung-min finished the game against Watford with cramp, but he is expected to be ready to start on Saturday. Dele Alli and Harry Kane remain on the treatment table for at least one more month. Ben Davies won’t be available for the home side.
Miguel Almiron won’t be available after completing his record move to the club as he needs to complete his registration. Antonio Barreca could be in the squad with the potential to make his Newcastle United debut. Mohamed Diame, Paul Dummett and Jonjo Shelvey could all be back from injury to boost the options available to Rafa Benitez. Ki Sung-Yeung and Karl Darlow won’t be available.
This is going to be a difficult match for Tottenham, as Rafa Benitez has proven that he can coach this Newcastle United team to victory against the big teams. The majority of those have come at St James’ Park and he will be relishing the opportunity to record a famous victory at Wembley. The win over Manchester City could be seen as a turning point and they will approach this weekend with a similar approach. The injuries to the home side mean that it is a good time to play them and their performance against Watford wasn’t convincing. Newcastle could spring another shock on Saturday.
Tottenham 1-2 Newcastle United