Newcastle United will be looking for their first victory of the Premier League 2021/22 season when they welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Tyneside on Sunday evening.

A new chapter begins on Tyneside. After 14 years of fan frustration, frequent exit chants and a gloomy vibe at St James’ Park, Mike Ashley’s turbulent reign at Newcastle United has finally come to a close, with the Saudi-led £300m takeover going through last weekend.

Inevitably, the Magpies have already started to being linked with big-name signings from Philippe Coutinho to Kalidou Koulibaly – but the primary concern would be the future of Steve Bruce, who is set to be in the dugout for his 1,000th managerial game, but there is a general expectation that sacking is nearby regardless of the result on Sunday.

Newcastle have struggled with the results on the pitch this campaign, with Wolves beating the Magpies 2-1 in their last game prior to the international break, languishing 19th in the league table with a measly 3 points from 7 games. Newcastle suffering relegation to the championship after becoming one of the richest clubs in the world would be a hilarious story, and the new ownership is desperate to turn the tables with positivity back in the Northeast.

Tottenham, meanwhile, have recovered from their dismal display in the North London derby. A convincing 5-1 thumping of NS Mura in the Europa Conference League, in which talisman Harry Kane scored a hat-trick, also contributed to the team’s morale before the Lilywhites were able to secure a vital 2-1 victory over Aston Villa shortly afterwards.

No complacency can be afforded from Spurs, especially against a Newcastle side fired up for the big occasion. Ahead of the latest encounter between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both sides.

Team News & Tactics

Newcastle United

Although many expect Newcastle to play the pragmatic 3-5-2 setup, but the game is an audition for Steve Bruce to prove his credibility to the new owners and deliver an entertaining brand of football. Hence, he might revert to a more forward-thinking 4-3-3.

In the pre-match media briefing, Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has confirmed that Martin Dubravka and Paul Dummett are the side’s only two casualties for this crunch home clash. Karl Darlow will feature in goal vying for his first clean sheet of the season. Guarding him will be the experienced centre-back pairing of Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark with an objective to stop Harry Kane from infiltrating the Magpies’ box.

Matt Ritchie will be aiming to utilize his crossing ability while operating as a left-back, while Javier Manquillo will try to make an impression at right-back. The Spaniard is more solid in the back-four and provides a decent enough outlet with his quickness and recovery pace.

The Magpies midfield trio will be consisting of Sean Longstaff, Isaac Hayden and Joe Willock. They will be looking to make life difficult for Spurs midfield and provide their team with a balance in attack and defensive phases. Longstaff has improved over recent weeks and contributing more on the ball. Hayden is the destroyer and an aggressive tackler and presser, while Willock is a more box-to-box player.

Saint-Maximin could push to the left in place of Joelinton while Callum Wilson is returning in the centre-forward role. Miguel Almiron will be buzzing around on the left-wing. The Paraguayan is a real dynamo at bringing Newcastle forwards with powerful running extremely useful to counter-attack the opposition.

Newcastle United Probable Lineup(4-3-3): Darlow; Ritchie, Lascelles, Clark, Manquillo; Willock, Hayden, Longstaff; Saint-Maximin, Wilson, Almiron

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Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo has to reshuffle things around to make do with missing several key players for one reason or another. Tottenham’s preparations for the Newcastle game have been hampered after two squad members tested positive for Covid-19. The two unnamed players must now self-isolate for ten days. Heung-min Son is also unlikely to play at St James’ Park.

Nuno Espirito Santo will also have to monitor the condition of four players returning late from international duty from South America on Friday: Davinson Sanchez, Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Romero, and Emerson Royal, though Steven Bergwijn could feature after recovering from an ankle injury.

Nuno Espirito Santo is likely to stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation from the last game but with several personnel changes. Hugo Lloris will operate in between the sticks coming on the back of winning the UEFA Nations League with France.

Joe Rodon may get an unlikely start ahead of restless Cristian Romero. The Welshman will pair with Eric Dier at the heart of the Tottenham backline. Sergio Reguilon will start at left-back, while Japhet Tanganga will step in on the opposite wing as a right back. They are expected to stay deep to prevent Newcastle’s pacy winger’s from burning down the wings.

The double midfield pivot will compose of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the holding role, shielding the back-four, and Oliver Skipp to provide more grit and crux to the engine room, while Tanguy Ndombele can be expected to contribute more in the final third of the pitch and provide the link between midfield and frontline as an attacking midfielder.

In Son’ absence, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura will take up the wider roles. With talisman captain Harry Kane leading the line for the Lilywhites, the England international will be looking to get off the mark in the Premier League by scoring at St James’ Park.

Tottenham Hotspur Probable Lineup(4-2-3-1): Lloris; Tanganga, Rodon, Dier, Reguilon; Ndombele, Skipp, Hojbjerg; Lucas, Kane, Dele.

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Key Stats

  • Tottenham boasts a dismal record, only registering five wins from their last 18 Premier League matches away from home – conceding at least two goals in six of their last seven games on the road.
  • Tottenham are, although unbeaten in their last four league games on the road against Newcastle (W3 D1), since defeated 5-1on the final day of the 2015-16 campaign.
  • Newcastle have failed to win any of their opening 7 league matches this season- one of the only four clubs still winless in the Premier League 2021/22 season.
  • The Lilywhites dropped four points from winning situations against Newcastle in the top-flight last season, with the Magpies scoring 90th and 85th-minute levellers to share the spoils in respective away and home games.
  • Spurs talisman Harry Kane boasts an excellent goal scoring record against Newcastle, netting seven goals from 13 games in all competitions.

Player to Watch

Allan Saint-Maximin

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In the absence of Callum Wilson, Newcastle United have been massively reliant on Allan Saint-Maximin. The French maverick has the pace, power and ridiculous dribbling ability to humiliate opponents with his mazy runs and excellent footwork. He is electrifying and injects joy into an uninspiring St James’ Park and is a firm fan favourite.

He already has 2 goals and 3 assists from just 7 appearances this term.  For context he only managed 3 goals and 4 assists in each of the last two campaigns.

If he keeps up this high level of productivity, he may well prove to be the difference between Newcastle in a relegation battle or a comfortable mid-table finish. The former Hannover starlet is indeed one of the names that would be the mainstay for the long future, and the new owners will be looking to build the team around him.

Prediction

Newcastle United 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur

An electric atmosphere is expected on the weekend at St James’ Park with Geordie’s out of exile under previous ownership with real optimism and wor flags back in the stadium. Callum Wilson’s comeback is a major boost for the Magpies’ and the duo of Wilson-Saint Maximin will keep Spurs on toes. A step-up in performance is expected from every Toon player to prove their worth and make it into the good books of the new regime.

Tottenham earned a much-needed win against Aston Villa in their last game, but have hardly been convincing enough and possess pretty damning stats, they are in the bottom-three for Expected Goals and are conceding a lot more shots representing their defensive attitude. Hence, The Hard Tackle predicts a convincing 3-1 win for Newcastle United with Saint-Maximin and Wilson shining on the day.

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