Lee Dixon selects the best bets as new Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas takes his new team to St James Park for a tough opening match. And there's good news for overs backers...
"This is a tough first game for Villas-Boas and I think he'd be happy to come away with a point."
Fans of Newcastle and Tottenham will both approach this season with a combination of excitement and apprehension. The Magpies are determined to prove that their unexpected success last term was no fluke, while Andre Villas-Boas' must make sure the team doesn't regress after the success of Harry Redknapp's reign. However acrimonious Harry's departure was, if you compare where the club are now to where they were when he took over, you see that he did a fantastic job.
Alan Pardew worked wonders last season to get Newcastle in to contention for the top four. His sharp eye for untapped talent - Demba Ba, Cheick Tiote and Papiss Cisse were all big hits - as well some expert tactical maneuvers were essential to a new era of optimism and stylish football at St James Park. The task now is to keep it going.
Newcastle fans will be realistic about their chances of improving on last year's heroics. They finished the season in fifth but you can get 14.5 on them breaking in to the top four this year. I wouldn't back that and I think their highest ambition will be top six consolidation.
This is a tough first game for Villas-Boas and I think he'd be happy to come away with a point. Spurs have gambled on him improving on his disappointing performance at Chelsea last season and he has the look of a man with a point to prove.
He's made solid but unspectacular signings and that might be exactly what Tottenham need. If they wrap up the permanent signing of Emmanuel Adebayor he will guarantee goals but I do think they need to improve up front. Jermain Defoe has looked sharp in pre-season and there's a suggestion that Villas-Boas likes him more than Harry did. He'll be looking to hit the ground running and I think he's a decent bet to score.
Newcastle were formidable at St James' Park in 2011/12 and, if Spurs take time to settle, then Cisse could take advantage early on. If anyone is going to win this one, it's the home side. However, Opta remind us that Spurs are unbeaten in five against the Magpies and the last two between the sides here have ended all square. My money is on the draw.
Over 3.5 goals
Bettors often prefer not to put all their eggs in one basket. I have a feeling about 2-2 on this one but, in the interests of giving us some leeway if our match odds wager fails to come in, I'll back over 3.5 goals instead.
Back the draw @ 3.55/2
Back over 3.5 goals @ 3.3512/5
Back Jermain Defoe to score