With the final international break out of the way, the focus returns to an immensely high-pressure top four race in the Premier League. Tottenham Hotspur will need a little help but has a very legitimate chance to return to the Champions League next season. However, to get there the club can ill afford to drop many more points.
To quickly reset: Spurs have nine contests remaining, including a pivotal North London Derby against an Arsenal side that currently sits three points ahead in fourth place and also has a match in hand. Tottenham has five matches in April, and while 15 points is a tough ask, the squad really needs as many of them as possible to stay in the race.
The WLWL narrative was fun for a bit, but in the league Spurs have actually been pretty solid of late, winning four of their last five and five of the past seven. Hopefully that momentum carries over through the break against a visiting Newcastle squad that has lost both of its past two outings. I will say this pretty much every match from here on out, but Sunday has to be a win.
Tottenham Hotspur (5th, 51pts) vs. Newcastle United (14th, 31pts)
Date: Sunday, April 3
Time: 11:30 am ET, 4:30 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
TV: USA Network (USA), Sky Sports Main Event (UK)
It appears that Antonio Conte has found his preferred lineup, and the 3-4-3 looks here to stay thanks to the instant improvement coming from the additions of Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur. Until Oliver Skipp returns, the only real question in the starting XI is at left wingback with both Sergio Reguilon and Ryan Sessegnon showing positive glimpses under the new manager.
Over the past five matches, Tottenham has averaged 2.3 xG to just 0.8 xGA, and that trend has a good chance of continuing Sunday, as Newcastle has been far from impressive on either end of the pitch. While the Magpies look to have avoided relegation (which is a bummer), this is still a bottom-table side that should not offer a ton of resistance.
Thinking back to the most recent win over West Ham, Spurs need the front three to continue producing. Up until that contest there were some complaints about Heung-Min Son’s finishing and decision making, but his brace — and near hat trick — reminded supporters of how lethal he can be. Son, Harry Kane, and Kulusevski should feast again this weekend.
- Spurs have logged three clean sheets over their last five league contests and the backline is fully in sync. Everything stems from this stability, and Cristian Romero is leading the charge and quickly becoming one of the most exciting centerbacks in the country. Newcastle is unlikely to produce a huge attacking threat, so this is a good chance for the defenders to help facilitate some offense.
- Tottenham won the reverse fixture 2-3 back in October under Nuno Espirito Santo. Spurs allowed a second-minute goal and made it tight with a late own goal, but the majority of the match was played comfortably with a lead. Goals came from someone named Tanguy Ndombele, a cheeky Kane flick, and the classic Kane-to-Son combination.
- Might be a bit early to scoreboard watch, but Arsenal have the late game this week, away to Palace on Monday night. The two sides drew earlier this season at the Emirates. A Tottenham win on Sunday would put the rivals even on points, at least temporarily, and could provide some extra pressure.