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Spurs v Newcastle, 10.11.13

(12 noon)

Remy, 13

Attendance:- 36,042

Referee:- Mr. C. Foy
Assistants:- Mr. A. Garratt & Mr. A. Holmes
Fourth official:- Mr. P. Dowd

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Friedel; Walker, Dawson (Capt.), Chiriches (sub Kaboul, 46), Vertonghen; Paulinho, Dembele (sub Sandro, 46); Townsend, Eriksen, Sigurdsson (sub Defoe, 69); Soldado

Subs not used:- Gomes; Lennon, Lamela, Holtby

Booked:- Dawson ( foul on Sissoko)

Newcastle (4-1-3-2); Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon; Cabaye; Sissoko, Tiote, Gouffran (sub Obertan, 85); Sh. Ameobi (sub Anita, 60), Remy (sub Cisse, 75)

Subs not used:-Elliot; Coloccini; Ben Arfa; Sa. Ameobi

Booked:- Debuchy (foul on Paulinho), Sissoko (foul on Vertonghen)

Krul on Spurs, but Plan B came too late.

Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul must have won the man of the match vote on TV, having made countless saves, some of which were quite special. When he didn't get in the way, Jan Vertonghen was deprived of an equaliser by the crossbar, when heading an Eriksen corner. The fact is that in the first half, Spurs made too little effort; showed not enough initiative and imagination, and lost because of one breakaway goal, which came from a Spurs mistake in midfield.

Some might say that Vlad Chiriches over-hit his pass intended for Paulinho. Others (me included) might say that Paulinho did not make quite enough effort to reach the ball. I am beginning to notice a trend with Paulinho, who whilst very talented, does not seem to be over-stretching himself for the Spurs cause. You cannot say the same about second half substitute Sandro, who always is willing to give 110% for Spurs, and rightly won lots of acclaim.

Alan Pardew adopted quite an attacking stance initially, with Shola Ameobi partnering Remy in front of a midfield three, with Cabaye the man in front of their back four. Once again, our opponents always seemed to have a man or two over when Spurs went on the attack. This is very much because Spurs are so, so predictable, with Andre Villas-Boas's rigid 4-2-3-1. Whoever fills those places, and there were three outfield changes today from last week's Premier League game, plays to the same style.

Personally, I am fed up with inverted wingers, and I am crying out for a player to go round the outside of a full back. Kyle Walker probably offered this more than did Townsend in the second half, and he did get in some telling crosses. Townsend is selfish at times with the ball, hitting a shot rather than delivering a telling pass. I want Lennon back on the right wing, or even Lamela.

After all the midweek fuss, and defensive talk about Hugo Lloris, he was absent from our line-up today, and maybe he would have saved the defence when Remy advanced on Friedel's goal.

Because the TV coverage of this game had to be re-scheduled, the game was played in bright sunshine and kicked off at 12 noon, after an immaculate minute's silence for Remembrance Day. Spurs kicked off towards the Paxton End, and Krul had the sun in his eyes. It didn't matter that Friedel had the same problem in the second half, because we hardly saw Newcastle in our half. However, they defended their goal well in the end, and now they are only three points behind us.

Of course I am depressed over the result, but I do see this as a turning point in our season, and a final recognition that we can once again forget about being "contenders" for the title. I also do not see us qualifying for Champions League football.

It is so disappointing, after all the summer investment, to see us failing to nail mediocre opposition at home in almost every league game we have played this season. I am starting to question AVB'S wisdom.

On the plus side, on this form, Spurs fans need not worry about forking out for BT Sport's European football coverage starting in two year's time, because we won't be there.

As for the game, Spurs dominated possession, which has been the tale of most of our games, but vitally, we could not make anything of it. Paulinho, Townsend and Walker combined early in a move which ended in a Walker cross and an easy pick-up for Krul.

Chiriches showed early endeavour, winning and carrying the ball forward, sending Vertonghen away with a good ball down the left. Vertonghen's cross, intended for Soldado, was cleared. Eriksen won a Spurs corner, which he took, and Soldado headed over.

There were danger signals for Spurs after 10 minutes, when Remy got goal side of the defence. Chiriches came to the rescue, with Friedel not advancing a la Lloris. Spurs did not look at all secure when Debuchy hit a long shot from the right, which passed wide of the far post.

Then came the goal, with Gouffran picking up the failed pass to Paulinho, and sending Remy away, scoring past Friedel in a one-on-one.

Spurs huffed and puffed, but failed to breach Krul and his defence. Townsend fed Eriksen, who hit a great low ball across the danger zone, with no-one there to attack it. Dembele passed inside to Vertonghen on the left channel. Jan hit a right foot shot, but this was easy meat for Krul.

Soldado was fouled about 30 yards out, and Eriksen took the free kick, touching it to Vertonghen, who hit a low shot outside Krul's left post. Soldado had another effort, following another Eriksen free kick, but Krul pushed this one out for a corner, after which Soldado wanted a penalty, but failed in his appeal.

Eriksen almost snatched a ball off Townsend and hit a fierce shot, which Krul saved, and also prevented an attempt by Soldado to follow up. Sigurdsson had a shot following a good ball by Kyle Walker, but this was comfortable for Krul.

Krul made his best save of the half, following a Spurs throw, and a pass by Eriksen to Paulinho, whose effort was tipped over the bar.

As the first half drew to a close, Chiriches went down with a head injury, and in fact was replaced at half time by Younes Kaboul, with Sandro replacing Dembele.

Spurs certainly showed more energy and threat from the start of the second half, with almost all the play towards the Park Lane End. An early corner was won after a move featuring Kaboul, Eriksen and Sigurdsson. After an exchange on the right between Townsend and Paulinho, and Townsend's ball inside, Eriksen could have picked his spot, but his shot was somehow saved and palmed away by that man Krul.

Sandro then hit a right footer from distance, which went wide across the goal. Paulinho carried the ball on a run across the outside of the area, from right to left, and was fouled by Debuchy, who got a yellow card for his trouble. Sigurdsson took this free kick, which was heavily deflected and, yes, saved by Krul, who then saved Kaboul's attempted follow-up, with the ball finally being cleared off the line beneath the bar.

A Townsend cross was cleared as far as Walker, who hit a short cross to Soldado, whose effort was collected by the busy keeper.

Sissoko was strong against Vertonghen, as Newcastle broke down their right flank. Sissoko got a shot in from a sharp angle, and Friedel had to be happy to concede a corner.

Townsend and Walker went forward in tandem, and Soldado had another shot blocked.

Now Alan Pardew was keen to re-in force his defensive ability, swapping Ameobi for Anita. Sissoko got the second yellow card of the game for his heavy challenge on Jan Vertonghen, who had made a run for Eriksen, as Spurs broke out.

Sigurdsson had a half chance following a Sandro effort that fell to him, but he hit the shot over the target. Townsend collected Paulinho's pass, and hit a good shot, well saved by Krul, who was also equal to Soldado's attempted follow-up.

Sigurdsson was replaced by Jermain Defoe, who sadly had no impact on the game. He did get caught offside on one quite irresponsible occasion though.

To be honest, by this time, some of the fizz started to go out of Spurs game, and it began to look more and more likely they would not hit the net.

Townsend had a shot parried by Krul, and at the other end substitute Cisse met a cross from the left, with a first time shot going wide. Sandro fed the ball to the right for more combination work by Walker and Townsend. When the ball came in, Krul saved well from Paulinho. Then, after another Sandro shot was deflected for a corner, Vertonghen's header beat Krul, but not the crossbar.

Yes, it was one of those days, but Spurs should have shown the energy levels and desire of the second half before the interval. Despite five minutes of added time, Krul was not so sorely tested again.

Now that I have finished this report, I see that Manchester City have stumbled at lowly Sunderland, so they are still below us. Perhaps I have over-reacted, and got too depressed over our result, but when we go to Man City after the International break, both teams will have something to prove.

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