Despite Manchester United vs. Chelsea being today’s standout fixture, Spurs and Newcastle are set to slug it out in a game that, arguably, has more riding on it. The Lilywhites play host to the struggling Magpies, with both sides having made stuttering starts to their respective seasons.
Mauricio Pochettino’s outfit’s top four hopes may hinge on results against teams they are expected to beat given their record against the ‘big boys’, while Alan Pardew’s weekly bid to avoid the chop makes wins vital for the North East boss.
This intriguing encounter is set to be decided by a host of battles, and here are FIVE we think could be key…
With Roberto Soldado having done nothing to further his chances of a start in the 4-1 loss at Manchester City last weekend, Adebayor looks likely to be the man to lead the line against Newcastle. The Togolese hit-man is a handful on his day, and with the Magpies far from solid at the back, he could get a few chances against Krul. The Dutch stopper is one of the best in the Premier League, so his reflexes and command of his area could be key.
When Spurs play well, Eriksen is usually at the hub of what they’re doing. The Danish playmaker really is a superbly creative playmaker, with his pace and speed of thought making him a nightmare for his opposite number. Colback is likely to line up against the pass master, and he’ll have to be at his most alert to deal with Eriksen’s ghosting runs around the 18-yard line.
One of the real surprises of Spurs’ season has been Chadli. Written off as a flop, the Belgian has been playing well under Pochettino, with his role on the left side of an attacking midfield three having given him the space to work in. Janmaat will be at right-back for the Magpies, and will have to be alert, with Chadli’s bulky fame making him a real threat at the far post for set-pieces and crosses.
Back from a long-term knee injury, Cisse seems to be the cog Newcastle have been missing. The Senegalese striker looks as if he’s getting back to the form he showed when he first joined Newcastle, with goals returning to his game after a terrible 2013/14 campaign. Spurs captain Kaboul will have a tricky time against Cisse’s movement, but his power and reading of the game could be vital.
This battle won’t take place on the turf, but both managers will have big roles to play. Pardew needs to keep his side motivated after their first win of the season last weekend against Leicester, while Pochettino will likely have to rotate his options after a draining Thursday night of Europa League responsibility.