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Previewing the Unpreviewable: Newcastle vs. Tottenham

Newcastle’s form could go from bad to worse as they face a hungry Tottenham side looking to secure a European place.

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Another day, another preview that will hopefully bring you a little bit of laughter on this fine Wednesday. Welcome back to another rendition of “Previewing the Unpreviewable” folks and this time we are focusing our energy on Newcastle's match against Tottenham.

After a disappointing defeat to Watford that featured Newcastle giving up their first and second penalties of the season, Newcastle are slated to take on Tottenham, a team that has been a bit of a mixed bag since the Premier League restart.

Recent Form

Newcastle started the Premier League restart as one of the hotter teams in the league scoring 10 goals in the first 4 games of the Premier League restart. In games 5 and 6 of the restart however, Newcastle have given up 7 goals and scored one. With the worst match being a 5-0 slaughter-fest by Manchester City that might go down as the worst match of the season. I genuinely believe children who watched that match were scarred for life.

Tottenham on the other-hand are dealing with their own issues as for a lot of the matches since the restart they have looked relatively boring, and have struggled to start quickly. That being said, they have only lost once since the restart, and they lost to Sheffield who is a formidable opponent to say the least. A bizarre stat about Tottenham is that two of their wins were helped by own goals by the other team. For a team with so much attacking talent, a lot of folks are confused to how they have struggled to generate consistent offense since the restart.

The results since the restart for each club are below

Newcastle (WDLWDLL)

Newcastle 3-0 Sheffield United

Newcastle 1-1 Aston Villa

Newcastle 0-2 Manchester City (FA Cup)

Bournemouth 1-4 Newcastle

Newcastle 2-2 West Ham

Manchester City 5-0 Newcastle

Watford 2-1 Newcastle

Tottenham (DWLWDW)

Tottenham 1-1 Manchester United

Tottenham 2-0 West Ham

Sheffield United 3-1 Tottenham

Tottenham 1-0 Everton

Bournemouth 0-0 Tottenham

Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal

What do Newcastle have to do to win?

Since the restart, Newcastle have certainly shifted mindsets in order to be a more attacking team. A change in formation was the main reason, but this was aided byplayers like Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin gaining confidence. As great as this has been, Newcastle have inadvertently been hurt by this shift to a more attacking side.

Defending since the restart for Newcastle has been woeful at best. While the team is certainly getting forward more, the matches have showcased the “attacking prowess” of sides like Aston Villa, Watford, and West Ham.

Key defensive lapses have been a feature in every match whether it is giving away needless fouls, losing your man, awful set piece defending, or just a lack of effort. To say the least, this is not the Newcastle side that before the restart was one of the harder teams to score on.

Even in a back 5 formation the organization and effort to contain a team like Manchester City was not up to par with what Newcastle were displaying before the restart and it resulted in a 5-0 defeat. This was followed up by a woeful display against Watford where at one point in the match 3 players on the back line had yellow cards, and Danny Welbeck looked like the promising young English talent he was years ago.

A victory against Tottenham will only come if the team gets back to defending well consistently. The likes of Jamaal Lascelles, Javi Manquillo, Emil Krafth and Federico Fernandez have to eliminate the mental lapses that have led to consistent errors at the back. Additionally, whoever is going to replace Hayden in the midfield for the rest of the season has to put in the same amount effort he was putting in to break up attacks before our back line even has to deal with them. This will be especially difficult when Tottenham’s midfield features the likes of Giovani Lo Celso and Harry Winks who have benefited from the restart.

Players to watch

In addition to the usual suspects of Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, and Moussa Sissoko. Newer signings for Tottenham like Giovani Lo Celso and Steven Bergwijn have really started to adjust to the Premier League well and are putting in great performances.

Lo Celso has started every match except one of the restart for Tottenham playing as either a box to box midfielder or attacking midfielder. Whatever role in the midfield he plays, he remains one of Tottenham’s more dangerous players, because of his ability on the ball as well his incredible passing ability. Similar to Jonjo, if he is given time on the ball to pick out a pass, he will punish you.

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - Premier League
turns out both of these guys were good signings!
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Bergwijn on the other hand, has not started every match, but has played well when asked to play. Whether it be as a starter or off the bench, the tricky winger has been a consistent handful for defenders, even if there hasn't always been an end product. Pacey wingers like Bergwijn, who are also technically savvy have given Newcastle trouble since the restart. They have struggled against obvious choices like Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez, but have also struggled against the likes of Trezeguet, Jarrod Bowen, and Ismaila Sarr, who were not exactly lighting up defenders all season.

How Newcastle deal with both Bergwijn and Lo Celso, obviously has a massive impact on the match. The more you can neutralize attacking threats like those two, the better. The good news for Newcastle, is that they don’t have to deal with Dele Alli, and Harry Kane although he has been scoring goals, has looked like a shell of himself since the restart.

Injuries... of which there are many

Newcastle come into this match with practically the same injury report they ha when facing Watford. Andy Carroll, Isaac Hayden, and Florian Lejeune are still out with long term injuries. Jamaal Lascelles, who was nursing an Ankle injury ahead of the Watford match, seems to have re-injured himself and will miss this match. Danny Rose will also not play, as he is ineligible for selection because Tottenham is his parent club.

For Tottenham it is likely Dele Alli does not play as he continues to nurse a thigh injury. Juan Foyth is dealing with a knee injury, while Eric Dier is suspended, and Tanguy Ndombele is listed as injured, but is essentially refusing to play for Jose Mourinho at the moment. Serge Aurier is dealing with the tragic loss of his brother and there is no pressure on him to play

One Bold Prediction

Newcastle will not score from open play.

Newcastle over the past couple of matches have struggled mightily to generate chances from open play. Even against Watford while controlling the ball, Newcastle failed to do a much with it, and looked most dangerous on the counter or when taking set pieces. The ability to link together passes and create chances is starting to fade for the team, and gone are the Brucelona days of football fans enjoyed in the early matches of the restart.

Newcastle have enjoyed a fair bit of set pieces over the last few matches, and have looked fairly dangerous on corners and long free kicks.

(We will ignore the woeful short free kick attempts Newcastle have had since the restart)

So, I would expect them to continue to try to get goals this way. It worked for the team before the restart, and it has worked for them during the restart. Newcastle under Bruce have become a team that is somewhat of a threat when given the opportunity to take a set piece.

One Not So Bold Prediction

Christian Atsu will almost score.

Christian Atsu almost scores every single time he steps on a pitch and we should expect more of the same. Like I said before the Watford natch, his chances have been few and far between. But, it is worth noting he ALMOST got subbed on in the last match against Watford. Surely if he had come on, he would have almost scored! Let’s all hope that our Ghanaian prince is given the chance to shine against Tottenham

The Elijah Newsome Clout Rating

If you missed the explanation for this revolutionary system an explanation can be found here. If you don’t want to read more than 3 sentences about the word “clout”, just know my Clout rating is a rating based on a club’s swag, influence and relevance.

It is worth noting that in the last rendition of the clout rating I forgot to actually GIVE a rating to Watford. That will NOT happen again! I will personally see to it that a rating will be given out to Tottenham.

Tottenham are the team your American friends support because supporting Tottenham is not “hopping on any bandwagon”, and it’s a low maintenance team to follow. They won’t win the league, and they will ever be in a relegation battle. If you are American and don’t want to support City, Liverpool, or Man United, Tottenham is calling your name.

The club have enough ambition to consistently gain a European spot, and make just enough signings that are exciting enough to keep fans interested. But we all know they will never win the league and when it comes to European football, they are not a Champions League threat, UNLESS they get lucky, like they did last season.

It is the perfect team for Americans who do not want to get invested in following a Premier League team to follow, without looking like an American who does not want to get invested in following a Premier League team. It is a true con, and it even comes with American ties. The owner is American and Tottenham is responsible for developing two of the better USMNT prospects playing in the Premier League: Cameron Carter-Vickers and DeAndre Yedlin.

Tottenham’s kits are typically some of the cleanest kits in the Prem. They are almost always simple and easy on the eyes, except for the 2018 version of Tottenham’s kits. (which we will ignore because they were so so so so so bad)

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League
the gradient just does not work, especially if you don’t complete the gradient
Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

The club rely on the wonderful combination of navy blue and white, which always works no matter how hideous the jersey or logo could be. This is a positive in my eyes in terms of clout because navy blue is one of my go to colors when picking out outfits. It works so well with everything, so when a team uses it as a primary color I have no choice but to respect them.

Tottenham have done a good job making chickens roosters look cool. For the longest time I did not even realize the bird on their crest was supposed to be a rooster. It is either a poorly drawn rooster, or a brilliantly drawn rooster when you consider the fact that roosters are not at all what you should want representing your club. It is the exact opposite of the French Football Federation crest, which literally looks like the logo for a new fried chicken fast food restaurant.

Tottenham are a squad with some personality. They have everything you could want on a team. Good young talent like Bergwijn and Lo Celso, who are joy to watch when they are good. The English “legend”: Harry Kane. The playboy: Dele Alli. The guy you sometimes forget won a World Cup: Hugo Lloris. The young English talent who everyone thought was going to be really good, but actually isn’t: Ryan Sessegnon. The English talent nobody thought would be really good, but actually is: Harry Winks. The young guy you forgot they signed: Gedson Fernandes. The Moussa Sissoko of the team: Moussa Sissoko

Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
i too wish I could hug son
Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

They also have the most likable player in arguably all of football. Heung-Min Son. Son is a joy to watch, an all around great guy, and also just really, really, good. Son is one of the only players who could walk into any starting lineup in Europe an the fans of the team would not only understand tactically how that would make sense, but also would be delighted he’s int he team. He’s like with Newcastle fans want Miguel Almiron to become. He’s obviously insanely fast, and a threat on the counter, but also like Miggy he is always smiling. I love Son, and if Newcastle had all the money in the world, he would be the first guy I would get into the team.

Last but not least, Jose Mourinho is...Jose Mourinho. He is quite possibly the most polarizing manager in modern football. Insane amounts of success followed by failure of the highest order are the expectation of any side Jose takes over and the drama he brings to every team is one of the reasons why I love him. His self recognition that he is in fact a meme coupled with the fact he is truly one of the more brutally honest managers out there always makes for a great clip.

Tottenham also have Moussa Sissoko who ALMOST won a world cup.

Clout Rating: 8.5 Dave Chappelle Standup Specials

Projected Lineups

On the Newcastle side, it seems as if the Fabian Schar CDM experiment will be ending, or at least be put on hold this week because Jamaal Lascelles is likely going to miss this match. Danny Rose being out means that Emil Krafth will likely have to play right back while Manquillo plays left back. Schar will likely find himself playing center back again, unless Steve Bruce goes peak Steve Bruce and decides to employ a back line of 3 fullbacks with Yedlin and Manquillo playing the full back position while Krafth plays center back.

Sean Longstaff will likely be available for selection, and if selected I could see him playing the 10 role with Miggy and ASM out wide. Sean Longstaff’s best 2 matches this season have come when he has played in the number 10 role, and it looks like that might actually be the best role for him to play. Nonetheless, I expect Bentaleb to play alongside Shelvey in the middle of the pitch handling most of the defensive duties. To play either Longstaff there is asking for your midfield to be overrun.

Due to the lack of fit center backs it is likely Newcastle will stick with a 4 in the back formation with two holding midfielders.

For Tottenham, there have been consistent rotation among their wingers. Lamela, Bergwijn, Son and Moura have been swapped out nearly every match of the restart. Son and Moura both played really well against Arsenal this past Sunday, so it is hard to see Mourinho dropping either one of them. However, with the shorter rest, and the fact that his other attacking options are more than capable of handling a shaky Newcastle defense, I would not be surprised if Lamela and Bergwijn get the start.

Sissoko has been a mainstay in the Tottenham side since the restart
Photo by MATT DUNHAM/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Tottenham’s midfield and defense have been consistent throughout the restart. Lo Celso, Winks, and Sissoko will likely all be in the midfield, while the back line for Tottenham will likely only be missing Serge Aurier.

Since the restart Tottenham have employed the 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, and a 4-4-1-1. I could see them sticking with the 4-4-1-1 they rolled out against Arsenal that displayed the brilliance of Son.

Newcastle Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1): Dubravka,Krafth , Fernandez, Schar, Manquillo, Shelvey, Bentaleb, Saint-Maximin, Almiron, Ritchie, Gayle

Tottenham Projected Lineup (4-4-1-1): Lloris, Tangaga, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies, Sissoko, Winks, Lo Celso, Moura, Son, Kane

One Random Fact to Say at the Bar

Th obvious fact is about Jose Mourinho still not having won at St. James, so we will switch it up so you look more impressive to your friends.

Tottenham have lost their last 3 Wednesday Premier League away matches.

Elijah’s Never Wrong Prediction

This team has looked like they have run out of steam, and I don’t see this team having the fight to beat Tottenham who are chasing a spot in Europe.

Newcastle lose 1-2

Match Facts and Where to Watch

Date: Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Kick-off: 1:00 PM EST 6:00PM GMT

Venue: St. James Park, Newcastle upon Tyne

TV Coverage: NBC Sports Gold (USA), BT Sport 1 (UK)

Referee: David Coote