Premier League: How Tottenham Hotspur Will Line Up Against Newcastle United

Thomas CooperFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2014

Emmanuel Adebayor has been leading the Tottenham Hotspur charge in recent months and will do so again versus Newcastle United.
Emmanuel Adebayor has been leading the Tottenham Hotspur charge in recent months and will do so again versus Newcastle United.Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur do not have long to rest on their laurels following Sunday's 1-0 win over top-four rivals Everton. Wednesday night sees manager Tim Sherwood and his squad take on Newcastle United.

The Magpies have not won at St James' Park in their previous four matches there, a run that includes the disheartening 3-0 Tyne-Wear derby loss to Sunderland two weekends ago.

The sale of midfield linchpin Yohan Cabaye and the contentious conclusion to director of football Joe Kinnear's second spell at the club have added to the gloom descending over the North East club in recent weeks.

Slumps are not permanent, though. Tottenham will be wary of underestimating a top-10 team in the making who have beaten them already this season.

The burden of not having won on Newcastle's home turf in the Premier League since August 2004 underlines the challenge of getting points there no matter the circumstances.

Spurs' 1-0 loss to Newcastle back in November was one of several slow starts to have undermined their efforts this season. Having avoided being similarly caught out by Everton, a more focused opening to this midweek challenge will be important if they are to get a much-sought-after win on Tyneside and keep on track in the hunt for a Champions League place.

Tottenham failed to find a way through against Newcastle in November.
Tottenham failed to find a way through against Newcastle in November.Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Sherwood's approach in selecting his starting line-up will be intriguing after a switch to a one-striker system ultimately paid off on the weekend.

At the time of writing, team news had not been officially confirmed by Spurs, but BBC Sport reports they do not have any fresh injury concerns.

The back five will almost certainly remain unchanged against Newcastle. Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was in commanding form against the Toffees, playing a leading role in ensuring his team were not punished for a nervy start.

After settling down, his defence of Kyle Walker, Michael Dawson, Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose were solid, beating Everton to the punch more often than not. A similar overall display will be required to deny Newcastle's fleet-footed, though slightly weakened attack.

There were pats on the back all around for the Spurs' midfield on Sunday afternoon, with Nabil Bentaleb in no doubt as to the virtues of a packed-out midfield in post-match comments to the club's official website:

"It’s easier all the time when you have a lot of people helping you (in the centre of the pitch) and we were like brothers in the midfield, all fighting for each other," the 19-year-old said.

Within that group effort, Sherwood encouraged Mousa Dembele to exert his usual influence on the ball further up the pitch. Spurs benefited from the Belgian driving them forward into dangerous areas between the lines.

Seldom, though, did they make enough of it, with the minimal movement and general directionless of his teammatesparticularly in the first halfstopping them in their tracks.

Christian Eriksen and Paulinho were willing enough in linking up in deeper positions, whilst Bentaleb did a solid overall job sweeping behind them. As the latter noted, it worked well in terms of matching Everton for effort. It was just not as effective in outsmarting them and creating good chances.

Andros Townsend was back in action against Everton and may well start against Newcastle.
Andros Townsend was back in action against Everton and may well start against Newcastle.Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Sherwood could well persist with the general approach, trusting Dembele and Paulinho can begin to work out a happy balance between defensive and attacking duties—as well as in how they will correlate in terms of their positioning and direction in the latter.

As for Eriksen, he has played well of late, but may make way for this one.

The opportunity to try the fit-again Andros Townsend with Aaron Lennon on both flanks has not been utilised too often this season. Newcastle provide as good an opportunity as any to see how it works in conjunction with this particular midfield trio and in terms of getting forward to support Emmanuel Adebayor in attack.

The match-winner against Everton has continued to repay his manager's trust in him over the last couple of months. The possibility that Sherwood may revert to a two-man attack is there, but for the foreseeable future, it is going to remain Adebayor plus one.

The battle for a place in the top four is yet again proving highly competitive. In terms of results, the majority of Sherwood's decisions since taking over have paid off.

No sooner have he and his team passed one test in the form of Everton, it is time to gear up and go again.


Predicted Tottenham line-up vs. Newcastle United: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose; Lennon, Paulinho, Bentaleb, Dembele, Townsend; Adebayor.