On Saturday evening Tottenham Hotspur met Newcastle United looking for three points to maintain pressure on the two Manchester clubs above them in the Premier League title race. Newcastle came in the knowledge that victory would have put them fourth. Alan Pardew has constructed a good side, made some shrewd purchases and the Geordies arrived in a confident mood, sitting sixth and having taken 12 from a possible 15 points in 2012. Instead, Spurs swept them aside 5-0.
When on song, as on Saturday, Spurs have a precision passing game, based on keeping possession but also have pace, individual skill and the ability to run at and get past defenders and that makes it so difficult for opponents to defend against. Spurs played the way perhaps only they can, but there seemed an extra dimension against Newcastle.
White Hart Lane was packed with emotion. With Harry Redknapp odds-on favourite for England job, the team and the fans seemed determined to send a message to the manager to stay at The Lane. The fans sang and chanted for Redknapp throughout the 90 minutes. The players such as Rafael van der Vaart [injured for Saturday], Emmanuel Adebayor and Scott Parker have stated how much they enjoy playing under the manager and how much he has been missed during his trial over the previous two weeks. Was this victory for Redknapp as much as anything else? Redknapp himself appeared affected. Whether from relief over his innocent verdict earlier in the week, the fans singing his name or the excellent play of his team – perhaps all three – but every goal had the manager off his feet in celebration. Maybe this result was on the cards after such a tumultuous week for the Spurs manager.
The Lilywhites enjoyed 65% possession, 89% pass accuracy and attempted 18 shots, scoring with five of their seven on target. All technically able, the players’ movement with and off the ball creates the space for the ball to be given and received so accurately, as do the deft touches and one touch passing. Newcastle were left ragged. In recent matches Adebayor has seemed out of sorts, despite continuing to work hard. Against Newcastle, he had perhaps his best game in a Spurs shirt. Adebayor was unplayable against Newcastle’s defence to the extent by half-time the match was over as a contest with Benoit Assou-Ekoto, Louis Saha [twice] and Niko Kranjcar all scoring after being set up by Adebayor. Spurs continued to impress and create in the second-half and Saha returned the favour to set up Adebayor for the fifth goal. Just to add to their manager’s delight should be the promise of the partnership between Saha and the Togolese, which will add further selection options for Redknapp when all players have returned.
If Spurs can ride this wave into the matches against Arsenal and Manchester United, they may come through a tough set of fixtures in a very healthy position.
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