For both these sides, last season could have resulted in Champions League football and end of season bad luck forced them into the Europa League. Now, Newcastle and Tottenham are keen to keep themselves in the top six and push on further from their good form.
Newcastle came out of nowhere last season with a solid group of players that worked brilliantly together and had goalscoring prowess in Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse. Their form stayed consistent throughout the season and a fifth placed finish was beyond the wildest dreams of most fans. Alan Pardew is a relieved man that none of the big clubs have taken any of his star players and with the returning Steven Taylor back from injury in central defence, the Magpies look much better. Pardew has signed youthful players this summer with Gael Bigirimana from Coventry and Romain Amalfitano from Stade Reims, but no real marquee names.
Vurnon Anita has signed a five year deal from Ajax and Pardew will be looking for another one or two players to give backup to his stars. If Pardew’s team are struck by injuries, the backup players are youthful and inexperienced with top-flight football. On paper, the Newcastle starting eleven is good enough for top six football, but the main concern is whether the squad players can provide the goods. Last season saw them struggle when big players were rested and they may suffer the same fate.
Tottenham have endured a difficult end to last season and this summer with Harry Redknapp being sacked as boss. Speculation linked Redknapp with the England job, which had a detrimental effect on Spurs’ third placed finish hopes last season, and now Roy Hodgson has been appointed, Daniel Levy took it as a signal to end his affiliation with Redknapp. Former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has taken over the reins at White Hart Lane and it will be interesting to see if the young manager has learned from his difficult tenure at Stamford Bridge.
Spurs have let a lot of their fringe players leave this season with Niko Kranjcar, Vedran Corluka, Steven Pienaar and Ryan Nelsen all moving on to permanent pastures new. Ledley King’s retirement from the game due to his injury worries is a massive blow to the Spurs fans and the footballing community, as King would have been an England starter if he did not have so many worries. His replacement comes in the form of Belgian captain Jan Vertonghen, who impressed at Ajax and has looked imposing during pre-season. Another coup for Villas-Boas is the signing of Gylfi Sigurdsson from Hoffenheim. Sigurdsson impressed on loan at Swansea last season and Spurs moved quickly to replace the reportedly outgoing Luka Modric, who is set for a big money move to Real Madrid.
The Saturday evening kick-off will see a packed Sports Direct Arena cheering on their beloved Newcastle vocally and Pardew’s men will look to deliver with the same drive and determination they showed last season. The two sides drew 2-2 in a very exciting game at Newcastle last season.