Key Matchups That Will Shape Tottenham's Match with Newcastle United

Frank WagnerCorrespondent IFebruary 11, 2014

Key Matchups That Will Shape Tottenham's Match with Newcastle United

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    Tottenham Hotspur face yet another crucial Premier League match Wednesday, when they head to St James' Park to do battle with Newcastle United.

    The match comes on the heels of Sunday's huge victory over Everton at White Hart Lane, when Spurs earned a huge boost to their hopes of an improbable top-four finish and Champions League berth.

    However, to keep pace with the upper echelon of the table and stay at the front of the chasing pack, Tottenham will surely need a positive result against ninth-placed Newcastle.

    So, what should be expected from this important clash?

    Here are the tactical battles to watch for in Wednesday's match at St James' Park.

Tim Krul vs. Spurs' Attack

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    In this season's first Premier League match between Tottenham and Newcastle in November, the Magpies were able to walk out of White Hart Lane with a 1-0 victory. 

    However, the result did not tell the whole story, as Spurs dominated possession and created chance upon glorious chance.

    While Spurs' finishing could have been better (they had 31 shots with 14 on target), the hero of the day was Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul, who put on a masterclass of incredible saves in one of the best performances of his career.

    If Krul can find similar form Wednesday, it could swing the result by itself.

Newcastle vs. Tailspin

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    Less than two weeks ago, Newcastle lost their third consecutive derby match with their hated rivals Sunderland. What's worse, it was their second consecutive 3-0 loss to the Black Cats at St James' Park.

    The loss came just days after the Magpies sold star French midfielder Yohan Cabaye to Paris Saint-Germain and a match after French striker Loic Remy was sent off and subsequently handed a three-match ban.

    Newcastle lost another 3-0 match since then, this time to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge Saturday.

    Obviously, Newcastle will be looking to end this awful skid against Tottenham Wednesday before it can be characterized as a full-on tailspin.

    However, Remy is still suspended, Cabaye is still at PSG and there are no huge changes coming to the side.

    What can manager Alan Pardew do to right the ship?

Mousa Dembele vs. Moussa Sissoko

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    The battle between Tottenham's Mousa Dembele and Newcastle's Moussa Sissoko stretches beyond their similar first names.

    Both of these midfielders like to control play in the center of the pitch, using their fine dribbling and short passes to boss the match.

    Thus, it seems likely that the one who gets the better of this head-to-head battle would give their side a marked advantage.

    At first sight, the advantage seems to go to Dembele, who provides more in terms of tackling, long-range passing and shooting.

    However, one should not sleep on the Frenchman, who proved in his debut at St James' park that he can be a handful on his day.

Andros Townsend vs. Injury

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    After he started the season so well, Andros Townsend has gone through some struggles at Tottenham.

    The winger's goal touch cooled considerably, and his minutes decreased a bit, all culminating in an injury that lost the 22-year-old two months.

    However, Townsend returned from injury off the bench in Sunday's match with Everton. While his half-hour cameo appearance didn't exactly light the world on fire, it was great to see him back out there getting minutes under his belt.

    If Townsend can put in a good performance against Newcastle Wednesday and start to find the form he had at the start of the season, it would be a big boost for Spurs' late-season push.

    Oh, and one might think it would be a big deal for Roy Hodgson's England as well.

Tim Sherwood vs. Alan Pardew

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    What makes this match so compelling is how much the weaknesses of each club play into the strengths of the other.

    Tottenham have struggled with defending through balls this season, allowing clubs to carve them open. Newcastle love to play through balls at every opportunity.

    The Magpies have not had too much success defending against counter attacks all season long. Under new manager Tim Sherwood, Spurs have used the counter as their main source of attack.

    Just how well each can deal with these problems will come down to the managersSherwood and Pardew.

    How will they look to overcome their teams' flaws and push their sides for a much-needed result?

Conclusion

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    Wednesday's battle between Tottenham and Newcastle should set the stage for both clubs in their respective run-ins.

    Will Spurs be fighting for a top-four spot that looked so out of sight a few months ago, or will they be looking for moral victories to up morale heading into next season?

    Will Newcastle be firmly in the mid-table and looking to build for next season, or will they head into a tailspin that could improbably suck them into the relegation battle?

    Both shall be answered at St James' Park Wednesday.