Let’s face it, we really, REALLY haven’t missed Newcastle much in the Premier League, have we? I certainly haven’t gotten over The Loss That Shan’t Be Spoken Of at the end of 2015-16, and with my apologies to the fine folk at Coming Home Newcastle, I would’ve been quite content to see them stick around in the Championship with their good buddies Sunderland for a few more seasons.
But Toon is too big a club to stay down for long, and they’ve somehow managed to keep ahold of Rafa Benitez as they rejoin the Premier League. Newcastle is a bit of a mystery club, as all newly promoted sides are, but they aren’t one that many pundits are predicting to stay in or near the relegation zone next season.
Toon’s forward attack consists of Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dwight Gayle, the latter of whom exploded in the Championship last season, scoring 15 goals. Newcastle’s transfer window has been modest, but they did make the loan of Christian Atsu from Chelsea permanent, and he should be a potent attacking outlet on the left flank. Ayoze Perez is still hanging around, and DeAndre Yedlin — remember him? — is still very fast, though he’s dealing with an injury at present. Oh, and Newcastle still have
Voldemort Jonjo Shelvey.
The big question is how Newcastle’s squad of Championship achievers will fare at home against a Spurs side that’s a bit banged up and has a big glaring hole at the right back position. Newcastle has been a been a bit of a bogey club for Spurs, and the two have split the last ten meetings 5-5, including... there I go, thinking of that match again.
With Chelsea at Wembley looming next weekend, Spurs would love to get off the mark quickly this season. A nice win at Toon would start things off nicely, don’t you think?
How to Watch
Date/time: Sunday, August 13, 1:30 p.m. (UK), 8:30 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: St. James’ Park, Newcastle, UK
Official: Andre Marriner
TV: NBCSN (USA), Sky Sports Main Event, (UK), Sportsnet World (Canada), Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also often at BBC Radio London, BBC Radio 5 Live, and TalkSport
Oh boy. Where to begin?
There are parts of this lineup that pick themselves. Harry Kane will start up top. Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen will play just behind. Ben Davies will be on the left flank. Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, and Eric Dier will be on the pitch... somewhere.
But after that, it gets messy. The injury to Kieran Trippier, which has ruled him out of opening day, creates havoc because there’s really nobody around who can replace him. Pochettino has admitted that Kyle Walker-Peters isn’t ready, so that leaves the options of either shunting Eric Dier wide right, or playing Moussa Sissoko out of position. Victor Wanyama might be ready to play in midfield... but he’s more likely to start on the bench, and if he does, Dier’s better suited in central defense than as a makeshift right back.
But then Poch went and said this in the pre-match press conference:
Pochettino: "Different players, like to use Kyle Walker-Peters in the back four, or with three - Moussa Sissoko if we play with wing-backs."— Ben Pearce (@BenPearceSpurs) August 11, 2017
So many questions! I don’t know what Pochettino would do, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt here.. Considering how good Spurs looked in a 3-4-2-1 against Juventus even without Trippier, my guess is that Pochettino will roll the dice, put a newly motivated Moussa Sissoko at right wing back, and pray. Dier slots into central defense. I say Wanyama starts the match, but don’t be surprised if Harry Winks gets the nod instead.
I’m already pouring the bourbon.
A new season! Our good friend Punk took home the Prediction League crown last year, and as a reward I’m making him write more articles for me while I go back to work. Crack that whip, Menno!
A reminder of the points system: one point for correctly predicting a win/loss/tie for the match, and two points if you nail the exact score.
Dustin Menno: This is a team that can beat Juventus. Certainly we can handle a newly promoted Newcastle team, even with Moussa Sissoko at RB. 2-0 Spurs.
Matthew Pachniuk: We haven't signed anyone this summer, not even a right-back, which is decidedly not good. And while I dislike the options we have to throw out right, we are still damn good. We handle Newcastle in their return to the Prem. Spurs 2-0.
Skipjack: 5-1 Spurs. Eriksen gets a hat trick and convinces Barcelona to go all out and sign him.
Jake Meador: 1-1 draw because nothing good happens to us.
GN Punk: Spurs 2-1 to help us forget about the chaos in the past few days.
Earl of Shoop: 2-2 draw. Just kinda hanging out in limbo like our whole summer. Nothing that signals the end of the world, but it just doesn't make you feel great. Sissoko does not score.
Alex Greenberg: 5-1 Spurs. Revenge of the Sissoko
Pardeep Cattry: I can't help but feel like this match will just be another bad thing on the road to paying too much for Ross Barkley. When did I get so pessimistic? Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham
Joe Patrick: We'll win 2-1. Things are bleak right now sure, but let's not go insane. Our XI is still good, and Newcastle's isn't.
Nathan Giannini: 1-1 draw, because I'm pretty sure we've never actually beaten Newcastle.
Salmon Chase: Newcastle? Are they even in the top flight? I seem to remember Demba Ba aging at a rate consistent with Robin Williams in 90s comedy flop "jack", and then Toon dropping of the face of the earth. But alas that leaves us, the juggernaut with holes in the armor. Let's be reasonable and call this a 2-1 victory with the zebras putting one in after beating the New Kyle down the right.
Bryan A.: My goal for this year's prediction league is to not get a single point. Even if I predict losses all year I'm bound to be right eventually and a season opener against a newly promoted side feels like an easy one to screw up. So I'm going with a scoreless draw. 0-0.
Ed F.: On the one hand, Newcastle put together a fantastic Championship squad last season then forgot to upgrade it when they got promoted. On the other, we're going to start this season slowly because that's just what we do now (plus by the sound of it we don't even have a fully fit first XI). I'm calling this as a 1-1 draw.