The fixture crunch was not about to let up as Tottenham Hotspur hosted high-flying Newcastle United and looked to put the Manchester United midweek misery behind them. There was some enforced rotation, as knocks to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Cristian Romero saw Davinson Sanchez and Oliver Skipp (in his first start of the season) come into the starting XI. There were also Antonio Conte’s typical 3 changes at LCB and the wingback positions, with Emerson Royal returning from suspension, Clement Lenglet in for Ben Davies, and Ryan Sessegnon in for Ivan Perisic.
Tottenham started brightly, as Son had a couple of early sights on goal from outside the 18-yard box. Spurs looked to win the ball in midfield and break forward quickly, before Joelinton got in behind the Spurs defence for a huge chance. Emerson Royal managed to do just enough to prevent a shot, and nothing came of it. Sonny continued to look bright, and was played in behind by a beautiful Kane through-ball to be one on one with Nick Pope for a massive opportunity. Unfortunately, Son didn’t get quite enough on his attempt to chip the Newcastle keeper, who palmed to safety.
Recent weeks have seen the return of the Dier Tyre Fire Pass of the Day, and this was no exception with an overhit backpass giving Hugo Lloris a scare and trickling past the far post. Harry Kane then went from provider to creating his own chance as he drove forward into the box and took a good shot on his left; Pope saved once more, stretching a leg out to knock it away.
After the glut of Tottenham chances though, it was Newcastle who took the lead, after bizarre decisions by both Hugo Lloris and the officials. The French keeper charged out after a ball played in behind the Spurs defence, and made a strange decision to control the ball rather than clear. Callum Wilson came forward to pressure Lloris and ran into him, before knocking into an empty net. It looked a clear foul and the Spurs players were incredulous, but neither the referee nor VAR intervened, and Newcastle took the lead.
Spurs’ misery continued after a poor clearance from Lloris was cut out far too easily by Sean Longstaff. He knocked the ball down to Miguel Almiron, who easily shrugged off Ryan Sessegnon before making Clement Lenglet look like a statue as he burst past him into the box and knocked the ball past Lloris at a tight angle to double Newcastle’s lead. There were some half chances for Spurs in the Newcastle box to close out the half, but nothing came of them and a chorus of boos rung out from the crowd as the half came to a close with Newcastle ahead 2-0.
Newcastle were the side to start the second half the stronger, piling pressure on Tottenham and making appeals for a penalty as Joelinton’s header back across the box was blocked by Royal. On replay, it looked as if the Brazilian defender had handled the ball, but VAR once again decided not to intervene, this time to Tottenham’s benefit.
Tottenham looked to strike back, and finally had the breakthrough from a Son corner kick: Clement Lenglet’s flicked-on header found Harry Kane at the far post who duly headed the ball home. There was a wait as it appeared as Davinson Sanchez may have got a slight touch would would have made Harry Kane offside, but VAR couldn’t find any clear evidence and the goal stood.
Conte’s first sub was to bring on Ivan Perisic for Sessegnon, who had a very rough night and was on a yellow, soon followed by bringing on Lucas Moura for Skipp (also on a yellow). Perisic had a chance soon after as Harry Kane found him wide in the box but his shot was scuffed and straight at Pope. Spurs made two further changes as Ben Davies and Matt Doherty came on for Lenglet and Sanchez.
Perisic played a fantastic cross into the box from the left as Spurs searched for an equaliser, but Eric Dier’s flicked header was narrowly wide, and the lineman’s flag went up as well. Another cross from Perisic found the head of Harry Kane but his attempt looped over the bar. Newcastle looked to waste as much time as possible as the clock ticked down, and Tottenham were unable to fashion any further chances as the match ended 2-1 to Newcastle.
- This was a bizarre match. Spurs looked really good at times, so did Newcastle! One thing that was noticeable was that Spurs started the match absolutely slicing through Newcastle, then around the 20 minute mark Newcastle tweaked their press. From there Tottenham struggled to even get out of their half. I’d have to watch the tape back to see what the tweak was, but interestingly a similar thing happened against Manchester United.
- That said, result aside, this was a better performance than against United. Spurs had a number of huge chances and could have been out of sight. Couple that with the bizarre first goal, and Tottenham were unlucky to be down by 2 goals at halftime.
- Seriously, what was this referee doing? It seemed like he wanted a game of rugby to break out. On the first goal, Hugo Lloris’ play there was bizarre (and terrible), but a clear foul for me.
- On Hugo Lloris... woof. An awful performance. First goal aside, his poor clearance led to the second goal, and his poor passing was a continual source of turnovers for Newcastle. Sessegnon, Sanchez, and Dier were poor as well.
- Gianni Vio has sure earned his keep, hasn’t he?
- That filthy nutmeg by Emerson Royal is certainly going to make his highlight comp this week.
- Where to from here? Champions League in midweek for a start. Maybe that will be more fun?