The Big Match Tactical View: Tottenham v Newcastle

Will Alan Pardew's side produce another fine defensive display?
Will Alan Pardew's side produce another fine defensive display?

Michael Cox believes Spurs are under priced for Sunday's early kick-off.

"Last week against Chelsea, Newcastle remained very defensive throughout the first 45 minutes, before opening up after half-time."

Back the second half to have most goals at 2.111/10 or better

Tottenham v Newcastle
Sunday 12:00, Sky Sports 1.
Match Odds: Tottenham 1.68/13, Newcastle 7.06/1, The Draw 4.3100/30.

These two sides are accustomed to entirely different matches - Spurs' ten Premier League games have featured just 14 goals, whereas Newcastle's have seen 30. What type of contest will we see at White Hart Lane?

Well, it would be surprising if Tottenham didn't set the tempo. They tend to dominate possession, averaging 59% of the ball at White Hart Lane, but they remain inefficient at converting this possession into goals - they lack penetration from their attacking midfielders, aren't supplying Roberto Soldado with regular service, and shoot too frequently from long-range. 

With that in mind, Alan Pardew will probably replicate his defensive-minded, cautious approach witnessed against Chelsea last weekend. His strategy was curious: he fielded two strikers upfront, with Shola Ameobi partnering Loic Remy, but asked both to play very disciplined roles, dropping back into a compact shape and preventing Ramires and Frank Lampard from collecting possession.

Expect something similar this weekend, and an interesting feature of the game will be Spurs' midfield positioning - Andre Villas-Boas encourages his midfield to rotate to escape opposition pressure, which could be particularly crucial this weekend. Mousa Dembele hasn't always been a regular in recent weeks, but could be helpful in turning defence into attack swiftly.

Villas-Boas' major decisions are in the attacking band of three behind Soldado. Last weekend at Everton, Spurs lacked penetration, with Lewis Holtby playing a hard-working but functional role in the centre, while Andros Townsend and Aaron Lennon were both rather predictable in cutting inside onto their stronger side. 

Villas-Boas surely needs more from these players - both in terms of penetration and goalscoring. Christian Eriksen would provide the former, Gylfi Sigurdsson the latter. Erik Lamela is another option - in fact, this was the trio Villas-Boas used in the 2-1 Europa League win over Sheriff on Thursday evening. One of the three will probably receive another start - last week's format simply didn't create enough. The smart money is on Eriksen, surely the key to Tottenham's attacking.

Assuming Cheick Tiote is fit to start in the centre of midfield, Pardew's main two selection decisions are whether to recall Hatem Ben Arfa and Papiss Cisse. Ben Arfa could be crucial on the counter-attack, but both Yoann Gouffran and Moussa Sissoko defended solidly in the victory over Chelsea and will probably be used for their defensive discipline, with Ben Arfa a potential super-sub. Cisse seems likely to replace Ameobi, however, and should lead the line.

Newcastle's major threat is Loic Remy, an exceptionally quick striker who will attempt to sprint in behind Tottenham's high defensive line. Michael Dawson isn't the quickest centre-back, although Vlad Chiriches was excellent in a covering role at Everton last weekend. Still, with six goals in seven starts, Remy has been in wonderful form this season - and can be backed at 3.412/5 to score.

An interesting part of Newcastle's approach against Chelsea was how they remained very defensive throughout the first 45 minutes, before opening up after half-time. Something similar might make sense against Spurs this weekend, and when you consider the wealth of options on Villas-Boas' bench, it's easy to imagine things getting exciting later on.

It's also worth considering the kick-off time of midday - early matches always seem to take a while to get going. With that in mind, back the second half to feature more goals, at 2.26/5 or better.

Overall, it's surprising to see Spurs as short at 1.68/13 for this one, especially considering some of their starters will have featured in the Europa League in midweek. I'm not convinced that Newcastle will pinch a victory, but their fine defensive performance against Chelsea suggests Spurs should be much higher than 1.68/13.

Recommended Bets

Back Loic Remy to score at 3.412/5
Back the second half to have most goals at 2.47/5
Lay Spurs at 1.68/13

The Betfair Trader's View: Alan Thompson

Away at Spurs is not historically a fixture that Newcastle do well in, losing on their last four visits and scoring only once while conceding ten in those four games.

It’s also a fixture that tends to produce a winning result; the last draw between the two at White Hart Lane was in 1996 (David Ginola scoring for Newcastle in a 1-1).

Alan Pardew's men are yet to keep a clean sheet on the road this season, conceding heavily at Man City (four) and Everton (three) and their away wins against top six finishers are pretty rare, with just two of their last 19 contests (Arsenal 1-0 & Chelsea 2-0).

Only one of Tottenham’s 10 games this season has seen both teams score; the 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane with Chelsea and they have kept seven clean sheets in their opening fixtures. Spurs got back to winning ways at home with another 1-0 win against Hull last time out after that surprising 3-0 defeat at the hands of West Ham.  

It’s difficult to see how Newcastle can get anything out of this fixture and I can see Tottenham claiming their eighth clean of the season. I will be looking to back Tottenham win to nil at anything better than 2.6.

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