Newcastle 0 Spurs 2
13th August 2017
Last May, after we’d murdered Leicester 6-1 (Post 11), I wrote that this Spurs team are building a habit of taking terrible revenge. I said if I were Newcastle, I’d be afraid. Very afraid.
In the event, today’s retribution was surgical rather than bloody. The scalpel rather than the machine gun. Spurs played within themselves from start to finish. I assume that was partly tactical. It was the first match of the season, a sunny day, a full St. James Park. I think Pochettino wanted us to move their players around whilst quietening the 50,000 Geordie fans enjoying their return to the Premier League. In the event, two injuries to their back-4, and then playing the second half with 10 men, left Newcastle’s players battling bravely but impotently most of the game.
It could have been 4-0, should have been 3-0, but 2-0 is a satisfactory start on what will be a long and winding road this season, whatever happens between now and May 2018. Spurs enjoyed 73% possession and outscored Newcastle on every metric; more shots (18 v 6) and more of them on target (6 v 3) and more corners (7 v 5).
Both goals were well worked. A masterful ball from Eriksen onto Dele’s run for the first and a fine team move finished by Davies for the second. Kane hit the post and scored an offside goal in the final couple of minutes.
Overall, the defence looked solid, especially after the tense, opening 20 minutes. Kyle Walker-Peters did nothing wrong and was named Man of the Match. Hugo, Toby and Jan mostly looked imperious and relaxed, as if saving themselves for bigger challenges. Davies isn’t Rose but he’s a superb squad player who gives his all and gets forward, scoring for the second successive PL match.
The ‘Dierbele’ axis was fine, with Moose producing a few trademark surges. Sissoko was greeted with a chorus of boos every time he touched the ball. Some players are inspired by opposition-fan vitriol. Others disappear. But Moussa was neither inspired nor invisible. He did nothing wrong. However, if this was meant to be either a ‘shop window’ display (to sell him) or ‘convince Poch’ (to keep him) performance, it wasn’t really either. When Son came on, he added a bit of extra spark.
Dele and Kane were fine. By most players’ standards. They both produced moments of excellence and inspiration. But neither was 100% on song. Had they been, Newcastle might have suffered a more serious thumping. I was happy that KWP was given MoM but personally I would have chosen Eriksen, who ‘made the difference’ on the day, a class above anybody in black and white.
Talking of shirt colours, our away strip looked fantastic. For the first time in about 35 years, I think I’ll buy myself a Spurs shirt. Well done Nike.
I’ll be posting more thoughts here, later this week, but for now I feel like our team must do as they travel south with 3 points on the board.