BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 13TH DECEMBER, 2015
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(1) NEWCASTLE UNITED 2(0)
Referee:- Roger East
Assistants:- L. Betts & M. Scholes
Fourth official:- M. Dean
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Carroll (sub Son,69); Lamela (sub Chadli, 86), Alli, Eriksen; Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Trippier, Davies; Bentaleb, Onomah
Booked:- Carroll (foul on Colback), Rose (handball)
Newcastle (4-2-3-1):- Elliot; Janmaat, Mbemba, Coloccini (Capt), Dummett; Anita (sub Gouffran, 91), Colback; Sissoko, De Jong (sub Perez, 63), Wijnaldum; Cisse (sub Mitrovic, 72)
Subs not used:- Darlow; Sterry, Mbabu; Thauvin
Booked:- Colback (foul on Walker), Perez (foul on Vertonghen)
Still a work in progress then
Just when you thought the top four was beckoning for Mauricio Pochettino's young and progressive side, up popped Steve McLaren's struggling Newcastle side to win for the third successive year at White Hart Lane. The winning goal was snatched in the third of four minutes of added time, but to be honest, I don't begrudge them a share of the points, as they stemmed the Spurs tide most efficiently in the second half.
One surprise in Pochettino's line-up was the inclusion of Tom Carroll for the absent Mousa Dembele, whereas most observers anticipated Dele Alli to play beside Eric Dier behind a midfield three of Lamela, Eriksen and Son. It didn't work out that way, and whilst it may be unfair to pick out one individual in one what was ultimately a below par team performance, I personally felt that Carroll was lightweight for the task today. He had a good game on Thursday, but had played 90 minutes, and surely could have started from the bench.
Spurs dominated possession over the course of the game, and the first half statistics must have been heavily in their favour, but it's goals that count, and Spurs didn't get enough of them. Rob Elliot was kept busy, but most shots that needed saving were from a good distance, and quite comfortable for him. Ultimately, I felt the decision-making in the young Spurs side was wrong at times when it came to choosing between taking a shot, of making a pass, which might have proved more incisive.
Newcastle deserve credit for sticking to their task. They packed the midfield, and got men behind the ball quickly, closing down any Spurs man in possession. As the game progressed, their speculative long balls worked, as so often they were controlled and taken on by Papiss Cisse or his replacement Aleksandar Mitrovic.
In the first minute, Harry Kane had chance after a Spurs throw on the left. He cut in and hit a right foot shot just outside the post. Kane then became provider for the advancing Kyle Walker, who rounded Winjaldum and won a corner with his cross.
It wasn't going all Spurs' way though, as De Jong's shot was blocked full-face by Cisse!
Eric Dier hit a right foot shot across the keeper and wide of his right-hand post. A handy Alderweireld ball for Alli was deflected out of his path, before Danny Rose passed sideways to Eriksen, who tried a shot, held by goalkeeper Rob Elliott.
Lamela showed good control, before feeding the ball back to Eriksen, whose shot was deflected for a corner. After the corner, Eriksen had a go with his left foot, but hit the ball wide of Elliott's left post. Alli had a header on target, but easy for Elliott, after a good long ball by Kyle Walker.
Walker then suffered an injury needing treatment, but recovered to take the throw-in near the half way line. We had to endure the farce of the referee having to hold up proceedings so that Walker could ask permission to step back into the field of play, before stepping back to take the throw!
Spurs endured more and more resistance, as the visitors packed the midfield. Colback got the first booking of the game for a foul on Walker, and had been chipping away at the referee a few times before.
Eriksen fed a ball out to Danny Rose on the left. Rose hit a really powerful cross but this was well held by Elliott. Erik Lamela then had a couple of good chances. The first came after Carroll hit a good ball to Rose, who passed inside to Lamela. Erik's left foot shot was saved by Elliott, diving to his left to concede a corner. Lamela then had another shot saved after Kane's header.
Spurs won a corner on the left, taken by Eriksen at the Park Lane End. Eric Dier scored his third goal of the season with a good header from the near post, glanced across goal to the far post. At this stage, all looked well for Spurs, and it was surely a case of how many we would get. An Eriksen effort was blocked and ran to Danny Rose who hit a rocket of a shot across goal and in front of the far post.
Spurs had had plenty of chances to score in the first half and to put the game beyond Newcastle, but would pay for their profligacy. Early in the second half, after a flowing move featuring Lamela, Kane and Walker, Dele Alli was fouled just outside the "D", but Eriksen's free kick was blocked.
Cisse had a good chance from the left of goal, hitting his shot wide across the goalmouth, before Kane had a good effort saved at the other end, winning a corner. This was a shot from distance, following a good ball by Kyle Walker. From the corner, Alderweireld headed wide beyond the back post.
On occasions, Spurs were falling into what I deem to be a bad habit, of feeding the ball backwards from attacking positions. For example, no-one seems to know you can't be offside from a throw-in. It's a bit of a bug-bear of mine. From one such throw, Newcastle had a cross from the right and Cisse had a decent header, but it went straight to Lloris.
De Jong was replaced by Perez, and after taking a booking, Tom Carroll was replaced by Son. The trouble was that by this time, Spurs were creating less chances. An Eriksen free kick was easy for Elliott.
Cisse was replaced by Mitrovic. Eriksen, fed by Son, had a powerful shot well saved by Elliott, before Mitrovic scored with almost his first touch. Danny Rose had been booked for a handball outside the area, and the Newcastle free kick was returned from the back post by Coloccini. Mbemba's first effort was saved, but Mitrovic followed up and scored from close range.
Perez took a card for his foul on Vertonghen, who was really coming to the rescue of his fellow centre-back as Spurs struggled to clear their lines.
Danny Rose made a super saving tackle on Sissoko, bore controlling the ball and taking it forward to lead a Spurs attack. Danny passed inside to Son, who hit a shot well over the target.
There was a spat between Mitrovic and Dele Alli, after a foul by the Newcastle player, and the referee had "words" with both players. Vertonghen seemed to be struggling against Sissoko, who hit a shot wide of the far post. Then, in the third minute of added time, Vertonghen seemed to struggle to judge the bounce of a ball into the area. Perez came out of it with the ball and scored through Lloris hitting the net at the far post, leading to ecstasy for the travelling fans, and despair for the home fans, whose team really out to have scored the points earlier in the game
Most Spurs fans are seasoned to situations like this though. We had a chance of top four, and threw it. Next week, Pochettino faces his old team at Southampton, who will be as keen as Newcastle to put one over their former leader.
On this form, Spurs ambitions and the sights of fans should not be aimed too high. Like Bournemouth, Newcastle have achieved two great wins in a week, and have lifted themselves out of the bottom three, and even above Chelsea, at least for 24 hours.
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