Midfield battle gives Newcastle major edge in beating Tottenham
Spurs may be forced into picking Jermaine Jenas or Gylfi Sigurdsson in holding midfield
Tottenham’s shortage of suitable options in holding midfield is likely to leave them point-less from their Premier League opener at Newcastle.
Newcastle head into the clash at the Sports Direct Arena as the 7/5 favourites, with Tottenham virtually the same price at 6/4.
However, the midfield battle is where the game tends to be won and lost and Newcastle have a major advantage here.
Lynchpin Scott Parker has an Achilles injury and definitely misses the whole of August, while Sandro has still not returned from Olympic duty with Brazil.
This leaves Jake Livermore as the only recognised enforcing midfielder and Andre Villas-Boas will be praying that he comes back from England duty for the friendly with Italy unscathed.
Jermaine Jenas has been paired with Livermore in pre-season, but his skills are more in work rate and ball retention in rolling the ball to the full-backs, rather than breaking up play.
Gylfi Sigurdsson could also drop back and allow Rafael Van der Vaart to play behind the lone striker, but this stifles the new signing’s natural game.
Meanwhile, as Tottenham have also failed to sign a striker as yet, Jermain Defoe is almost certain to start in attack against Newcastle.
It is hard to quibble at Defoe’s scoring prowess, but there is arguably not a type of striker less suited to playing up top on his own.
Newcastle have no such issues and although Hatem Ben Arfa’s pre-season has been interrupted, Pardew can pick almost the same team that finished the last campaign.
The big headache is whether to play Papiss Cisse as a lone frontman or also go with Demba Ba in attack instead of out wide.
With Tottenham’s midfield issues, preference must be for option A for this particular fixture if Newcastle want the best chance of starting the season with a victory.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.