Verdict: Tottenham win
Best Odds: 21/20
With a move to their new stadium on the horizon, although Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side will be traveling to the North West without a number of his key World Cup stars, The Lilywhites know the importance of getting off to a solid start in the race for another Top Four finish. On Saturday lunchtime, Spurs will travel to St. James’ Park to face a Newcastle team who limped over the line in pre-season.
Starting with Rafa Benitez’s side, although the former Chelsea and Liverpool boss has most recently brought in West Brom man Saloman Rondon on-loan from the Hawthorns earlier in the week, with Dwight Gayle going the other way, Benitez has once again been critical of his sides lack of activity in this summers transfer market. Securing a 10th place finish in the Premier League last season and finishing their campaign with a 3-0 win over Chelsea, many were optimistic about what Benitez could do with the squad if he was given the funds. However, coming off the back of a 1-0 loss at home to Bundesliga outfit Augsburg in their final pre-season game, Newcastle have now failed to win any of their four final friendly matches and their problems were epitomized by a 4-0 drumming against Braga. More worryingly not finding the net in their last three matches on the bounce, some think this could be a difficult situation at St James’.
Florian Lejeune is missing through injury but Martin Dubravka should be fit to play having missed Saturday’s friendly defeat to Augsburg. Latest signing Saloman Rondon is also likely to feature and is expected to start with a place on the bench after a limited amount of time to train with his new teammates.
Although Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino have a move to their new home just round the corner, Spurs have remarkably made no new signings this summer and the Argentian tactician will be desperate to get his World Cup stars match fit as soon as possible. Although the visitors might be coming off the back of a 4-1 loss to Serie A side Gerona in their final pre-season matchup, The Lilywhites made a string of changes and had showed signs of things to come during their stint in the International Champions Cup. Beating the likes of AC Milan and Champions League semi-finalists Roma, Spurs only defeat came on penalties against La Liga kings Barcelona. One man to watch for Spurs is World Cup star in his own right Heung-min Son. After scoring the goal that knocked Germany out of the World Cup, the pacey winger managed to bag 18 goals in all competitions last season and also scored against The Magpies last season.
Tottenham may be forced to field a number of youngsters with a host of players only just returning from summer holidays after playing in the World Cup, while Victor Wanyama, Moussa Sissoko, Erik Lamela, Harry Winks and Josh Onomah are doubtful. Senior players Heung-min Son, Davinson Sanchez and Christian Eriksen are all expected to feature. Georges-Kevin Nkoudou has impressed and could start.
Key Factors to Consider
- This will be the fourth time Newcastle and Tottenham have played each other on the opening weekend of a Premier League season, the most in the competition’s history.
- Spurs have only failed to score in one of their last 25 Premier League matches against the Magpies – a 1-0 defeat at White Hart Lane in November 2013.
- Newcastle’s last win on the opening day of a Premier League season came against Tottenham in August 2012.
- Mauricio Pochettino’s side have earned 40 points so far in 2018, second only to Manchester City’s 41.
- The Magpies lost both league games against Spurs last season and failed to score in either match – the last time they lost three in a row against Tottenham without scoring was in 2005.
Although the Spurs boss has admitted he was willing one of his stars to lift the World Cup this summer, Pochettino probably didn’t expect to have such a weakened squad come the opening day of the new Premier League season. While Tottenham’s top goalscorer and England captain Harry Kane is also expected to be one of the nine first-team players absent on Saturday, The Lilywhites should be confident of Christian Eriksen and co coming away with a first win of the season. Along with Spurs winning the reverse fixture at St. James’ Park 2-0 last season, Newcastle have put in some ropey performance to end their pre-season tour and we fancy even a weaker Tottenham side to come away with the three points on Saturday afternoon.
Verdict: Tottenham win
Best Odds: 21/20
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