Spurs v Newcastle – The Most Complete Tactics, Stats and Analysis You’ll Find Anywhere
Tottenham 0 Newcastle 1
Sunday 10 November 12noon
On the back of a rather comfortable 2-0 victory over Chelsea last weekend, Newcastle fans travelled to North London with no idea what side would turn up, with the Magpies having turned in some truly schizophrenic performances in the league thus far.
Tottenham have struggled for goals all season, managing only nine in the league despite a gargantuan outlay of more than £100m on new players last summer to reinvent the squad in the absence of Gareth Bale – a stark difference to Newcastle United’s summer.
Following Saturday’s results Newcastle needed a win to go back into the top half of the table and they would also, momentarily at least, go level on points with Manchester United. Tottenham on the other hand knew a win would keep them in contention for fourth place and keep arch-rivals Arsenal within touching distance.
Alan Pardew, likely buoyed by the win at home to Chelsea, named an unchanged back four and an unchanged side, with the fit again captain Fabricio Coloccini having to settle for a place in defence whilst Mike Williamson deputises.
Newcastle were set up in an old-fashioned 4-4-2, Sissoko on the right wing and Gouffran on the left, with Shola Ameobi once again deployed as a target man for Remy to play around.
Despite being forced off in the 53rd minute with an injury last weekend, Cheick Tiote was declared fit and would captain the side in Coloccini’s absence, partnering Cabaye in midfield in what was one of the best centre midfield partnerships in the league two years ago.
Much like Chelsea, Tottenham have a wealth of attacking midfielders to choose from but, much like Chelsea once again, they are yet to settle on their first choice trio. Against Newcastle they lined up with Sigurdsson, Eriksen and Townsend, leaving Lamela, Holtby and Lennon on the bench.
Tottenham’s defence, imperious this season, was also unchanged. Vlad Chirches lined up alongside captain Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen continued to deputise in place of Danny Rose.
Critically, Hugo Lloris was ruled out after the head injury he suffered last week against Everton. Spurs were left with the far less mobile Brad Friedel in goal who, at 42, is still a great shot stopper but not fully comfortable with Spurs’s high line method of defence, something Newcastle would look to target with six balls in behind the opposition back four – compared to Spurs’ one.
Last weekend Newcastle sat back and allowed Chelsea to play it easily out of their back four, before heavily pressing the ball, but against Tottenham, Newcastle were much more aggressive without the ball – heavily pressing those in possession and looking to win the ball back high up the pitch.
The Magpies concentrated their pressing on transitions. They were quick to press if Spurs had recently gained possession but once they were comfortable on the ball, Newcastle instead set back and set up a very stiff and effective two banks of four – something Spurs struggled to break down.
Newcastle’s effectiveness on the counter attack was on show in the opening 20 minutes. Despite being out-matched in the possession statistics (35% to Tottenham’s 65%) they managed four shots to Tottenham’s solitary one. Spurs, however, did adjust well and after the bright opening (which included a very well taken goal by Loic Remy) Newcastle struggled to pose any danger to the Tottenham goal.
TOWNSEND NOT GIVEN SPACE
Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas loves to set up his side with inverted wingers who can cut inside and place a direct threat on goal – Gareth Bale flourished last season when played on the right despite being left footed. Despite a good start to his league campaign, Andros Townsend is far from being as much of a threat as the Welshman. Even with that being the case, Newcastle were loathe to give him any space and frequently doubled up on the winger. Santon showed him down the line and Gouffran, ever the work horse, would track back.
Despite this conscious effort to not allow Townsend any space, Tottenham continued to look down the right wing, with 40% of their attacks coming down Newcastle’s left as Walker played further and further up as the game went on and Spurs became ever more desperate.
When Townsend did cut inside his shots were often poor and as the match wore on Spurs fans became increasingly irate at the winger’s selfishness. Five shots and four dribbles show that while he did pose a danger, Newcastle dealt with him very well.
Sigurdsson on the other wing was much less effective and, frankly, dreadful all game until being hauled off for Defoe as Spurs went to 4-4-2 in a list ditch attempt to break through Newcastle and, perhaps more importantly, Tim Krul. The Icelandic international saw just 26 touches of the ball (compared to Townsend’s 67) and didn’t manage a single dribble. His three shots were wild and wide and he didn’t put in any sort of defensive performance, failing to make a single tackle.
With both Townsend and Sigurdsson preferring to cut inside, little space was afforded to Christian Eriksen, the Dane who had been heralded as a rival to Ozil upon arrival but has since dramatically gone off the boil. Eriksen still did his level best and put in a good performance, but was let down by both his and the team’s finishing. He got 81 touches of the ball and pulled the strings well, despite having Tiote breathing down his neck numerous times. He should have scored in the second half but had his shot stopped by Krul’s trailing leg.
NEWCASTLE WORK RATE
Pressuring the opposition is often effective at stifling creativity but it comes at a cost – energy. Newcastle’s midfield four each put in a gargantuan shift in defence, combating Spurs midfield five (although Erikson was loathe to get bogged down too much in defensive duties, making only one tackle).
Tiote and Cabaye, once a force to be reckoned with, looked close to their best together again after what seems an eternity. Combined they made 10 tackles, although the former did concede four fouls and manage to escape a booking once again. Cabaye managed only 67% pass accuracy as he was given the task of picking out the runs of Remy or the head of Ameobi. Tiote on the other hand kept things short and tidy for the most part, and got a much healthier 81% passing accuracy.
On a day when the whole team put in a defensive shift, it was Newcastle’s wingers who really got stuck in with the dirty work. Sissoko’s transformation from a box to box midfielder to a box to box winger continued to take strides. Against opposition like Spurs and Chelsea it is obvious why Pardew prefers him. The Frenchman made four tackles and his lung-bursting run at the Spurs defence in the second half was Newcastle’s only real chance of note against a strong Spurs defence.
Gouffran on the other wing was a revelation and would have been man of the match if not for Krul’s superhuman heroics in between the posts. Gouffran pressured well all game and it was his tackle on Paulinho which triggered Newcastle’s winning goal. In total he made four tackles but also managed three dribbles and only gave away a single foul.
HALFTIME ADJUSTMENT FOR SPURS
Newcastle may have started brightly on the counter, with Dembele and Paulinho proving a mismatched midfield pairing, offering too much space for Cabaye and Tiote to operate in. Despite playing relatively well, making three tackles and completing 90% of his passes, not enough defensive cover was being given and AVB decided to replace him with Sandro – who was much more effective at shutting down Newcastle counter attacks and generally being busy in midfield.
Also withdrawn was Vlad Chirches in place of Younes Kaboul. Chirches (and Dawson really) had been caught flat footed by the goal as Remy ghosted past the pair of them and Friedel before cooly slotting the ball into the net. Chirches had not played poorly overall and his withdrawal was due to an injury, meaning AVB could only make one more substitution as the match slipped away from Spurs.
The introduction of Sandro meant Paulinho was allowed to push further forward and join the attack but the Brazilian performed poorly going forward, failing to show a cutting edge in the final third. Paulinho was another player who should have scored with a gilt-edged opportunity but found himself denied by Krul. His other four shots were poor.
BACKS TO THE WALL
Newcastle’s settled back four may have relied on Lady Luck and their goalkeeper on more than one occasion but a clean sheet away from home, no matter what the circumstances, is nothing to sneer at. Once again Yanga-Mbiwa and Williamson proved good foils for one another. Yanga-Mbiwa made 11 clearances, including one which denied a definite goal, whereas Williamson made 11, including four with his head. Both of them may not have had too much time on the ball (they only managed 26 and 22 touches of the ball – less than a fifth of Michael Dawson at the other end) but they were prepared to put their bodies on the line to secure three points and Coloccini will be lucky to find himself in the starting line up after the international break.
Debuchy has well-earned his tough-as-nails reputation. Despite taking a firm knee in the back from Vertonghen early on, he never shirked from his defensive duty and made three tackles, two interceptions and one block. He wasn’t as on form as last week however. He gave away two free kicks in dangerous positions and his pass accuracy, a measly 35%, needs work. Nine clearances, including three with his head, means he still did his defensive duty.
As the game wore on Spurs looked stronger and stronger whereas Newcastle were going the other way. Players like Debuchy and Tiote frequently gave away fouls as they mistimed tackles with only Sissoko able to continue on the same pace he started (his burst from the left could have seen Dawson get sent off as the Spurs captain hacked him down when he could have been clean through).
Pardew, aware his side had lost any attacking impetus, went to a midfield five with Anita replacing Ameobi but the Dutchman couldn’t influence the game the way he hoped, managing only 16 touches in 30 minutes. Not only that but his passing, normally reliable, was poor and he achieved just 58% accuracy.
Cisse was brought on to hold up the ball and did his level best although most of his work was harrying Spurs midfield and not allowing them time on the ball. Obertan, brought on in the 85th minute once again, made one good tackle and busied himself.
Who else could it be but Tim Krul? The Dutchman has turned in some middling performances thus far this season after struggling with injuries last year but this was a heroic performance, making a Premier League record 14 saves (the most since Opta started recording in 06/07), including a number of world class stops.
Although his distribution may be as poor as ever (about half a dozen clearances were shot straight out for a throw in) there is no denying his skills as a shot stopper. The pick of his saves was a Soldado header in the first half, which looked destined to draw Spurs level only for Krul to spring into a flying save and stop the ball heading into the top corner.
In the second half he was equally impressive, adjusting himself after a deflected free kick and making a triple save (the last of which, from his head, he didn’t know too much about) before a miraculous clearance from Yanga-Mbiwa.
Less of a smash and grab, more of a smash and defend, but three points are three points and Newcastle have already bettered their away record last season thanks to victories at Cardiff, Aston Villa and now Tottenham.
Back to back victories against top four contenders, while keeping a clean sheet, and seven points out of the last nine mean Newcastle can go into the International break with a nice feeling of optimism around the club – especially as next on the fixture list are home games against West Brom and Norwich.
By then it’s expected that Steven Taylor will have recovered from his injury but he will likely take a place on the bench with Pardew loathe to change a winning side.
Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Vertonghen, Dembele (Sandro 45), Dawson, Chiriches (Kaboul 45), Townsend, Paulinho, Soldado, Eriksen, Sigurdsson (Defoe 69)
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Mapou, Williamson, Santon, Sissoko, Tiote, Cabaye, Gouffran (Obertan 85), Shola (Anita 60), Remy (Cisse 75)
Unused Subs: Elliot, Coloccini, Sammy Ameobi, Ben Arfa
Ref: Chris Foy
You can follow Tom on Twitter @WeeklyNewsBay
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