It promises to be a sombre atmosphere at St. James’ Park on Sunday as after suffering the ultimate kick in the teeth in being sent down by their biggest rivals, take on a Tottenham team that needs just a point to sure of second place.
This has been a truly punishing season for the Tyneside club, who are now having to count the full cost of its lack of direction and poor decision making at the top. Progression up the table and ambitions to win that elusive piece of silverware have been cast aside in favour of the financial benefits of merely staying in the Premier League and signing players with the purpose of achieving a profit rather than to form part of their long-term future.
This term they have bitten off more than they could chew, with owner Mike Ashley leaving their plight to reach desperate proportions before dispensing with his services in favour of Rafael Benitez, for whom this is expected to be his final game in charge. Magpies supporters have already moved to try and persuade the Spaniard to stay and he will get a positive reception here, but the Championship must be far from an enticing prospect for a man with such an illustrious C.V.
The squad is good on paper but in reality they have woefully underperformed this season, so they are likely to bear the brunt of the criticism from the stands, and they showed an almost total lack of urgency last weekend at Aston Villa where they needed a goal to keep their hopes alive. Instead it was left to Sunderland of all teams to send them down in midweek, and it looks like a complete overhaul is needed if they are to find the correct mentality in order to bounce back at the first time of asking.
It is the end of a tremendous season for Tottenham in spite of their inability to remain in the hunt for the title coming into the final two weeks, with the prospect of finishing runners-up surely far beyond what they would have expected when it all began back in August where simply achieving a top four place was the priority. But they now appear to be a side to watch out for in times to come, with boss Mauricio Pochettino having just signed a lengthy contract extension.
So it all bodes well and Pochettino is adopting a single-minded approach, attempting to rid the club of its yearning to finish above Arsenal ahead of all other aspirations. It is something they should achieve for the first time in over two decades here, and then the preparations will begin for a season where they make their long-awaited return to the Champions League, in which they acquitted themselves so well when they last competed in 2010-11.
Harry Kane is in prime position to win the Premier League’s Golden Boot award, which would be a major achievement for a striker who has developed his all-round game brilliantly as the season has gone on, while the man in form is Son Heung-min, who along with Dele Alli and Toby Alderweireld has been a signing that has taken Spurs to the next level.
Skipper Fabricio Coloccini remains out for Newcastle, who could give a start to striker Aleksandar Mitrovic for the first time in seven games.
Alli remains suspended for Tottenham along with fellow midfielder Mousa Dembele, while Nabil Bentaleb is still sidelined.
Last Meeting: The unhealthy national obsession with Harry Kane was in full flow after he broke away in the dying stages to score yet another goal and confirm a 3-1 victory for a superior Tottenham in April 2015. Nacer Chadli had got the first for the visitors, and after Jack Colback had equalised moments into the second half, Christian Eriksen restored the advantage before Kane struck again.
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