There is no such thing as a relaxing international break. For the second-straight window, a key group of Tottenham Hotspur players must navigate travel rules from South America and may or may not be available to play without delay. However, the biggest story from the past couple weeks is the Saudi takeover of Newcastle United and its ethical and competitive ramifications.
Of course, Spurs’ first match after the break just so happens to be on Tyneside, where there will be no shortage of attention this weekend. Perhaps some off-pitch drama could be beneficial for a squad who had dropped three straight London derbies (all fairly lopsidedly) before a 2-1 win over Aston Villa heading into the break.
Nevertheless, Tottenham comes into the matchweek just two points off fourth and four points off the top of the table. The season has been much worse for Newcastle, who has yet to secure a win in eight matches across all competitions, but this is probably the last time Toon will be in a relegation fight.
Newcastle United (t-18th, 3 pts) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (t-7th, 12 pts)
Date: Sunday, October 17
Time: 11:30 am ET, 4:30 pm UK
Location: St. James’ Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
TV: NBCSN (USA), Sky Sports Main Event (UK)
In case anyone needs a reminder, Spurs were quite terrible for much of the past month. Aside from a strong first half against Chelsea — that did not even yield any goals — nearly all of the goodwill from the start of the season evaporated with three straight losses, including two to the club’s biggest rivals.
A good performance against Villa eased a little of this depression heading into the break. The biggest reason for hope is an improved midfield showing, with Oliver Skipp pairing with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to provide enough support for Tanguy Ndombele to go forward. It would still be nice to see Giovanni Lo Celso involved (if he is allowed to play) in place of Skipp, but this is unlikely to be the case every match.
Should Nuno Espirito Santo get the midfield right, Spurs have enough playmakers up top that the goals will come. Lucas Moura had a decent match against Villa, and Heung-Min Son is clearly the best player on the pitch right now. Tottenham has struggled to score, but Newcastle might offer the worst defense in the Premier League right now, so there will be good opportunities this weekend.
- If there was ever a time for Harry Kane to finally score a league goal, it would be against a defense like this. He has been close a few times, but there is no denying that his performances for both Spurs and England have not been up to his standard. This club needs him to wake up soon, and this will continue to be a storyline after all of his summer antics.
- Both fixtures last season ended in draws as — surprise! — Tottenham allowed late late equalizers, which unfortunately is a common theme from most of last year. Moura opened the scoring at the home match last September, while Kane nabbed a brace at St James’ Park in April.
- The schedule stays busy with a Conference League match on Thursday and a midweek cup tie the following Wednesday. West Ham, Manchester United, and Everton are the next three league fixtures, so anything short of three points is a big miss for Tottenham on Sunday.