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Tottenham Hotspur vs. Newcastle United Preview: Still searching for a solution

The formation change has not quite brought the desired spark.

Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Three straight wins could be extended no further, as Tottenham Hotspur was embarrassed by Manchester United on Wednesday. The loss puts the record at 0-1-2 against Big Six sides this season, and while those were all on the road, it is the efforts against Arsenal and United that really cause concern.

The personnel is largely the same (or better) than last season, and Antonio Conte’s side was expected to at the very least continue last spring’s level of play after having more time to understand the patterns and the manager’s other quirks. Instead, this season has taken a large step back on the pitch despite good results in the table.

Wednesday showed, however, that those results may not continue for much longer. Newcastle United is still a few years of spending away from breaking into the league’s top echelon, but enters the weekend in good form and a sixth-place spot in the table. Spurs have played much better at home this season, but this is an opponent that could easily cause some trouble.

Tottenham Hotspur (t-2nd, 23pts) vs. Newcastle United (6th, 18pts)

Date: Sunday, October 23
Time: 11:30 am ET, 4:30 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
TV: NBC (USA), Sky Sports Main Event (UK)

The biggest thing going Newcastle’s way is the defense, with a league-best nine goals allowed heading into Sunday. Scoring has not be a problem either, though, as Toon sit fifth in goals and goal difference. The advanced metrics follow suit (2nd xG, 4th xGA, 3rd xGD), so this is going to be a challenge for Tottenham, especially given how lopsided some of the shot totals have been against quality opposition.

Atlanta United legend Miguel Almiron scored the winner midweek, making it four in four matches to lead the team on the year. Meanwhile, Nick Pope has produced clean sheets in nearly half of his starts, and the defense has only conceded more than one goal against Manchester City and Liverpool. Newcastle oddly leads the league in draws, but has won three of its past four.

Recent results:

The results between the teams last season were quite drastic, with Spurs getting goals all over the place from both likely sources and much less common ones. While this year’s Newcastle side enters the weekend in much better form, the (theoretically) transferrable success from last season came in classic counterattacks ending in Heung-Min Son tallies in both contests.

Conte did go back to the 3-5-2 against United and it was not a success, but going with a 3-4-3 instead was not going to win that contest either. For whatever reason, most players seem a step off from last season, and while there are certainly things the manager can do better, there also has to be a little hope that some positive regression is on its way eventually.

Son and Harry Kane have just looked off for much of the year, and they will continue to be the reason the club either succeeds or struggles, regardless of if there is another attacker next to them. Combined with consistently sloppy passes and touches in the midfield, Tottenham keeps getting in its own way, leading to some dreadful performances. Another effort full of miscues will be punished by this very competent Newcastle team.