Alan Pardew is the new – or should I say “noo” – eye candy on sky’s football coverage. They do spoil us.
Tangentially, let’s have a closer look at our teams. Newcastle give debuts to Lejeune and Manquillo, while Atsu is now officially theirs. They’ll look to Ayoze Perez to disquiet the league’s best pair of centre-backs.
Spurs, meanwhile, have lozzed their three at the back – for now, at least, though it’s hard to see it working at Wembley as well as it did at White Hart Lane. At full-back, they had no choice but to field Walker-Peters and Davies, an area for Newcastle to target, while in midfield, Pochettino goes for Dier not Wanyama or Dier and Wanyama; he’ll be pleased to know I consider that a sensible decision. On the other hand, well, er, Moussa Sissoko.
Did you know: Metallica’s black album is 26 years old today. What a piece of work that was and is, making headbangers out of indy kids.
Sandmen and Unforgiven
Newcastle United (a usual 4-2-3-1): Elliot; Manquillo, Clark, Lejeune, Dummett; Hayden, Shelvey; Atsu, Perez, Ritchie, Gayle. Subs: Darlow, Lascelles, Murphy, Aarons, Mbemba, Merino, Mitrovic.
Tottenham Hotspur (a whatchagonnado 4-2-3-1): Lloris, Walker-Peters, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele; Eriksen, Sissoko, Alli; Kane. Subs: Vorm, Carter-Vickers, Wimmer, Wanyama, Winks, Son, Janssen.
Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur are two of English football’s most evocative names. Each club has a rich history of maverick players, attacking style and spendthrift spending, their lots of FA Cups and not lots of league titles casting them as heroes and tragic heroes of their own self-parody and self-mythology. In many ways, they encapsulate The GameTM.
And they arrive at today’s fixture in similar nick, promising previous seasons naused up by failure to arrange necessary and expected reinforcements. Both managers will hope to have this addressed before the transfer window gently eases closed, but in the meantime, Newcastle must stay up but ought really to manage better, while Spurs need to win something, anything.
If Joey Barton were a betting man, he’d likely favour the former over the latter. Rafael Benitez has a pedigree and an expertise which far outweighs that of his rivals, and can be trusted to take care of matters defensive, while up front his team should have enough goals to survive. Spurs, on the other hand, are an excellent team, but Cup success can never be relied upon and it is hard to see them winning the league without the advantage of White Hart Lane, the tightness of its ex-pitch perfect for their game and the vibrancy of its ex-atmosphere inspirational for those tasked with playing it.
As for today, who knows? A narrow away win looks most likely, but Spurs have started the last two seasons poorly, endured a tricky week, and you get some funny results on the opening day of the season – especially from games involving promoted clubs. We’ll find out presently.
Kick-off: 1.30pm BST