Tottenham face a trip to the North East to face Newcastle United as they attempt to keep their European qualification hopes alive. Their recent away record has been a worry and Jose Mourinho has never won a Premier League match at St James’ Park. It is a stadium that he hasn’t done well at, which is a hoodoo that he will want to end. For the home side, they have been good since the restart, but their last couple of performances have been a disappointment. The Magpies have nothing to play for and that shows on the pitch.
Steve Bruce has done well during his first season at his boyhood club, as he has led Newcastle to safety with matches to spare. The supporters remain sceptical about his suitability for the long term, but he has met the objective this season. Now they are safe, the club are in limbo awaiting a decision on the protracted takeover. The owners and directors test being conducted by the Premier League started more than three months ago, with a decision still not imminent. Until this has been finalised one way or another, the football is very much a side show.
At the weekend, Jose Mourinho hit back at his critics with an excellent tactical performance in the North London derby. Tottenham were worthy winners and it could be the start of the new era under the Portuguese manager. It is important that he follows this up with another positive result on Wednesday. A similar performance to the one against Bournemouth on the road and they will be back to where they started before the Arsenal victory. The aim will be to finish in the top six following that result.
Against the traditional top-six, Newcastle have taken seven points from a possible 12 at St James’ Park this season. They have won two (Manchester United and Chelsea), drawn one (Manchester City) and lost one (Arsenal).
The previous away match saw Tottenham fail to get a single shot on target against Bournemouth.
For anyone watching, it is clear that Newcastle are a better team with Allan Saint-Maximin. They have won only once in 15 matches without him in the team. Meanwhile, they have 10 victories from 20 with him in the starting eleven. That clearly shows how important he is to Steve Bruce and the Frenchman will be relishing the chance to show his ability against Tottenham. Since the restart, he has a goal and three assists, but this contribution doesn’t show everything that he offers. The 23-year-old is direct and willing to run at opposition defenders, as shown by his average of 4.6 dribbles per game. Tottenham look nervy at the back when opposition players are running directly at them. They won’t be relishing the task of going up against Saint-Maximin on Wednesday night. He is the player that can break them open and cause them problems.
It has been a quiet few weeks for Son Heung-min following the restart, but he is a confidence player and he has momentum following a match-winning performance in the North London derby. The South Korean scored and assisted against Arsenal. This was his first goal since the resumption, but he now has three assists, highlighting how he is starting to offer a complete forward option who can score and create. He now has ten goals and ten assists for the campaign, becoming the second player to reach that landmark this season. The first was Kevin de Bruyne. Son is still very much underrated, but he has maintained these levels for a couple of years and he has to be viewed as one of the best players in the Premier League. Another good performance on Wednesday will consolidate that view.
Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamaal Lascelles picked up knocks against Watford, but they should be okay to feature. Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden are both set to miss out. Nabil Bentaleb could start against his former club.
Eric Dier is suspended for the visitors, while Juan Foyth isn’t available through injury. The rest of the squad should be available for Jose Mourinho.
The away form of Tottenham is a worry ahead of this game, but Newcastle have nothing to play for and it has showed in their previous two performances. That should mean that the visitors pick up a third successive Premier League victory and strengthen their European hopes
Newcastle 1-2 Tottenham