Saturday finished Newcastle 1 Tottenham 2.
A bit of a game of two halves, Spurs well on top in the early stages, then Newcastle the better and more threatening team after the break.
However, the visitors held on for the three points, the woodwork saving Lloris and his teammates twice in that second half.
The Editor asked me beforehand to write about 3 positives and 3 negatives from the game.
Obviously we can’t ignore the fact that Tottenham had their own issues to contend with coming into this match. Nine of the squad, including many/most of their best players only returning to training on the Monday before the game at St James Park.
On the other hand though, Newcastle fans would in an instant swap their worries for those of the visitors, an understrength squad seeing key signings arrive too late to take part in pre-season, not to mention NUFC ended up with no net spend, instead making the Premier League’s biggest summer transfer profit.
Anyway, looking at the match solely based on what you saw, the good news is that Newcastle were competitive. I don’t think any neutral would have claimed the Magpies didn’t deserve at least a draw.
Spurs looked good on the ball, as you would expect with the quality they have. However, Newcastle looked capable of scoring against one of the best teams and scored one very good one, then hit the woodwork twice. Kenedy also wasting the chance of the game when one on one with Lloris.
The introduction of Rondon and Muto gave Newcastle two things, more threat going forward and also a higher workrate from the front pair.
Their chasing down of the Spurs defence, particularly with Muto, was a number of levels above what we get with Joselu and Perez. Hopefully this will mean Newcastle can play a more pressing game much of the time this season.
As is often the case, the atmosphere is very reliant on what happens on the pitch these days. So, it was disappointing much of the time but came to life when the team did, especially in that second half when Spurs were pushed back.
However, considering everything that is thrown at them, it is great to see how the fanbase sticks with both Rafa and the team, whilst at the same time trying to deal with Mike Ashley. A magnificent turnout of a couple of thousand fans outside Sports Direct pre-match, in Newcastle city centre, was brilliant. Even better, everybody behaved and ensured the reporting was all positive from the media willing to treat the situation objectively.
Rafa Benitez once again made clear that a new number 10 was a big priority this summer, once again he wasn’t backed to get one. Arguably the most important position in the team in the modern game, Perez for me is completely unreliable.
As has been the case in his Newcastle career so far, he has the odd hot spell, such as at the end of last season. However, only two goals before 31 March 2018 last season, and very few assists, tells the story. Not a bad player but for me, no way is he good enough to be first choice in the Premier League and sooner rather than later surely Muto and Rondon will be first choice.
It was always going to be tough matching the defensive quality of last season, especially then so with the double handicap of Rafa not being properly backed with transfer funds AND then Florian Lejeune picking up that serious injury. The friendlies had suggested not everything was great at the back but with Rafa unable to play a first choice team in those pre-season games, you thought that could have been the major factor in that.
However, definite worries on Saturday as basic high balls into the box weren’t dealt with, despite that having been a strength last season. Failure to sign a new left back to compete with Dummett, yet again, is unforgivable really. Whilst a lot could rest on the shoulders of Federico Fernandez in taking Lejeune’s place alongside Lascelles.
Speaking of the defence, DeAndre Yedlin was poor against Spurs. In fact, he got the very lowest mark in our fan player ratings. Out of position on a number of occasions and at fault for the winner when failing to even challenge Dele Alli.
However, why I have included Yedlin as a negative here, is simply because his injury (pictured above) is an absolute nightmare. It looks like he will be missing for a while and yes he has some dodgy moments/games at the back but overall he is an excellent player for Newcastle and as well as contributing a lot going forward, his pace is often taken for granted when he gets teammates out of trouble when defending.
The fact that the back up right backs are Manquillo and Jamie Sterry, who was out on loan in League Two last season, once again tells us of the obvious weak nature of this Newcastle squad. Players who will come in and try their very best but nowhere near what Yedlin gives us.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 1 Tottenham 2
Newcastle: Joselu 11
Tottenham: Vertonghen 8, Alli 18
Possession was Tottenham 60% Newcastle 40%
Total shots were Tottenham 15 Newcastle 15
Shots on target were Tottenham 5 Newcastle 2
Corners were Tottenham 5 Newcastle 3
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie (Atsu 69), Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy, Perez (Muto 81), Joselu (Rondon 59)
Darlow, Manquillo, Schar, Ki
Crowd: 51,749 (3,000 Tottenham)
(Read instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the Spurs defeat HERE)
(You can read the match ratings for NUFC players from one of our writers HERE)