Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur
Sunday October 17th, St James’ Park, kick off 4:30pm

by John Spillane

Sunday’s late afternoon encounter sees 19th placed Newcastle, having picked up three points from seven games, entertain a Tottenham side, nine points and eleven places better off. Despite the gulf in points neither coach appears secure in his position.

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After 14 years under Mike Ashley, the recent Saudi backed takeover has raised expectations. If reports are to be believed it is a surprise to see Steve Bruce still in charge and on the verge of his 1,000th game in management. The coach was never a popular choice to begin with and his style of play hasn’t gone down well with the locals. Results, on a limited budget, have been mixed but with new owners there is bound to be a change of direction. There has been an attempt to play a more expansive game this season with Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron coming to the fore, but they have been hurt by the lack of playing time for chief goal threat Callum Wilson, who has two goals in his three appearances. Joe Willock who made an instant goal scoring impact after arriving on loan from Arsenal last season has yet to find the net having signed permanently for £25m. At the other end of the field they have conceded, along with Norwich, a joint Premier league worst of 16 goals. With Martin Dubravka an injury doubt, Karl Darlow could be asked to step in between the sticks.

Down in North London the revelations about a break clause in Nuno Espirito Santo’s contract should he not reach certain targets, aren’t a good sign. Being public knowledge that he wasn't the first choice of the club to replace Jose Mourinho didn’t help and despite beating Manchester City on the opening weekend their form has been very much up and down. Three wins in their opening three games were then followed by three straight defeats, before a much needed 2-1 home victory over Aston Villa. Heung-min Son provided two assists in that success but could be missing on Sunday. With Harry Kane yet to score in the Premier league, it is no surprise that with six goals in seven matches there are only five teams (Arsenal, Wolves, Southampton, Burnley and Norwich) who have scored fewer goals. Nuno’s choice to go with a midfield three of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Oliver Skipp and Tanguy Ndombele leaves much of the creativity to Lucas Moura and Giovani Lo Celso, along with their adventurous full backs Emerson and Sergio Reguilon.

Tottenham’s record on recent trips to the North-east has been excellent with three wins and a draw from their last f. Harry Kane has scored a double on the last two and could find this the ideal moment to break his Premier league scoring duck, which would significantly boost the chances of an away win.

Suggested bet : Tottenham to win (23/20 at bet365)

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