There are few things more American than waking up at 6:30 to watch a game of football (except pretty much everything else). With the lunchtime start at White Heart Lane, Newcastle were looking to grab 9 points out of three games, with impressive victories coming against Aston Villa, Chelsea, and hopefully Spurs. Having defeated a full strength Tottenham 2-1 at SJP in the season opener, Alan Pardew's side definitely brought a new confidence and swagger down to London. Pardew decided to field an identical squad to the one who defeated Chelsea last weekend, even though Cheik Tiote had returned from the Africa Cup of Nations.
Unfortunately, things got off to a rocky start (that sounds familiar, eh?). In the 4th minute, Gareth Bale rocketed a free kick over the head of James Perch, whose feet seemed glued to the spot. Jonas was the only Newcastle player in the 4-man wall to leap, a clear communication and downright silly mistake. Still, Newcastle showed resilience, and refused to crumble as they have a few times during this tumultuous campaign.
In the 24th minute, a wonderful pass from Jonas to Sissoko lead to a quick chip back to Yoan Gouffran, who finished with a wondrous upper 90 strike. Now galvanized, Newcastle proceeded to bully the action for most of the rest of the first half, but to no avail. The second half was a bit of a snooze fest until the 81st minute, when a blistering run past Colocinni and Taylor put Bale right on goal again, and he finished tidily.
Newcastle had plenty of time and some wonderful chances in the match's closing moments, but it was nothing doing. Hugo Lloris played well, but it was really an immovable back line of Spurs that squashed Newcastle's attack. It felt for long stretches like block after block after block. On the other end of the pitch, Bale worked tirelessly for his hat trick, but some nervy saves by Krul kept the Toon with some dignity in tact.
The Toon won't play another Premier League game until February 24th, when they head to Southampton. During the international break, Newcastle will be looking to make it to the round of 16 in the Europa League, as they play away at Metalist Karkiv on February 14th, and and at home on the 21st.
Some key takeaways from today
- Unfortunately for Toon fans, the main takeaway will the forthcoming news on a nasty knock that immobilized Yoan Gouffran. He had to be carted off, and we will be awaiting with baited breath for news on his fitness.
- The choice to start Perch over Tiote was an interesting one, though Tiote looked relatively flaccid when he was subbed in.
- It's sometimes hard to remember that, relatively speaking, Krul is definitely a young keeper. It's not often he plays like one, but today was certainly not his finest. Bale had chance after chance for a hat-trick, though, and Krul was incredibly stout in the final 10 minutes.
- There is an outside chance that HBA will be ready for the end of February. Once we are at mostly full strength, the squad selection will become a very interesting drama to watch.