Newcastle United 2 (Ba 55, Ben Arfa 80)
Always going to be a tough opening game, decent opposition and a rocky preparation for Newcastle pre-season.
The very positive news beforehand in terms of players who were fit to play looked to be falling apart early in the first half, Tiote stretched to block and anita was stripped for action at the side of the pitch. Happily it was a false alarm and Tiote would go on to play a vital role in these three points.
An edgy first day of the season first half was won on points by the visitors as Defoe and Bale both hit the woodwork. For Newcastle Demba ba almost fortunately deflected a Cisse snapshot inside the post but it just crept the wrong side.
Hatem Ben Arfa was the shining light in that first forty five as he picked up his late season form from this opening whistle and both central midfielders, Sandro and Livermore picked up yellows as they desperately tried to contain him.
Likewise for Tottenham it was Bale causing problems with his pace and trickery with Simpson in the book early on. In contrast Santon looked on top of Lennon, apart from the first half jink that set up Bale to hit the bar.
Things hotted up in the second half with Ba moving left to revert back to a 4-3-3 approach. Ironically Demba’s less favoured tactics paid off for him as Cabaye at last got into the groove and hit a lovely crossfield ball to Simpson. His flighted cross was headed up in the air by Walker, only for Demba Ba to expertly control it and curl around Friedel.
What a way to celebrate the remaining hours of Ramadan!
However, Spurs desperately tried to get back into the game and after doing so much good work it appeared to be Ben Arfa who gave Lennon far too much space to cross for Defoe whose header glanced off Santon and produced a decent stop by Krul, the Spurs striker scrambling in the rebound though.
What a response though, the French winger picked up a throw-in on the left and darted between two defenders on the edge of the box, one of them putting Hatem on the floor and a penalty!
An interesting discussion appeared to take placed between Ba and Ben Arfa before the penalty winner became penalty scorer with a cool finish.
By the end there wasn’t much in it but Newcastle were the better team second half so possibly could claim they earned it by finishing stronger.
Great thing is that some of our players looked a bit rusty and suggests plenty more to come.
With Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs already dropping points it is just what we needed as the challenge begins to match or better last season.
Alan Pardew might be sitting nearer you and me for a number of matches as he was sent to the stands for pushing the linesman who missed a blatant throw-in.
I’m sure he’ll happily pay any fine after this three points.
Newcastle United: Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Perch, Santon, Ben Arfa, Tiote, Cabaye (Anita 71), Gutierrez, Ba (Obertan 85), Cisse
Subs not used: Harper, Ryan Taylor, Williamson, Gosling, Amalfitano
Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Gallas, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto, Livermore, Sandro (Kane 86), Lennon, Sigurdsson (van der Vaart 68), Bale, Defoe
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Crowd: 52,385 (3,200 Away Fans)