Strikes from Dele Alli and Ben Davies secured the 3 points for Tottenham in a match in which the dismissal of Newcastle skipper Jonjo Shelvey paved the way for Christian Eriksen to assist both Tottenham’s goals, as Spurs ran out 2-0 winners in their opening Premier League fixture of the 2017-18 season.
The game got off to a tame start with Tottenham enjoying the bulk of possession, while Newcastle posed a more direct threat to goal. Gayle was in behind the Spurs defence after just 5 minutes, but sliced a volley both high and wide of Lloris’ goal from an awkward angle. Asides from that, there were very few chances to write home about. Tottenham quickly settled in possession and Newcastle set up for counter-attacking football.
The flow of the game was facing constant disruption however, as Paul Dummett was forced off through injury and replaced by Jamal Lascelles just 8 minutes in, before Harry Kane’s meaty tackle on Florian Lejeune required Newcastle to use a second first half substitute, bringing on Chancel Mbemba in his place.
It was a fiery game at times. Dele Alli and Lascelles exchanged a few words following a strong challenge from the latter on the former, which resulted in a slight nudge of the Dele’s shoulder into the 23 year old. Despite infrequent tempers flaring, Kane was the only player to receive a booking in the opening 45 minutes.
Kyle Walker-Peters enjoyed a largely impressive competitive debut for Spurs looking strong on the challenge and more assured in his positioning. Although, early into the game, the 20 year old almost gave away a penalty when a quickly taken free-kick found Dwight Gayle in the box unmarked. Walker-Peters proceeded to clatter into last season’s club top-scorer, causing him to go to ground before unleashing a shot on goal, with the home fans screaming for a spot-kick. Thankfully for the youngster, the offside flag was up on the far side.
Before the half time whistle blew there weren’t any chances close to clear-cut. Eriksen tested his luck from range 2 or 3 times, but Rob Elliot in goals for Newcastle had only routine saves to make. At the other end, Christian Atsu was a constant threat, though never managed anything more than winning a corner. That sums the half up really. Lot’s of corner kicks.
The second half however, started with much more of a bang. What has to go down as a pure moment of madness from Newcastle captain Jonjo Shelvey handed Tottenham the advantage they needed to push on and win this game comfortably. Shelvey, in plain sight of referee Andre Marriner, stamped on Dele Alli. Intentionally. It wasn’t the most violent act you’ve ever seen, but as a principle, an intentional stamp on another player must result in a dismissal, which is exactly what he got. Marriner had no choice but to send Shelvey off just 3 minutes into the second half. The home fans were outraged.
Their anger was only intensified when victim of Shelvey’s witlessness Dele Alli put Tottenham 1-0 ahead on the hour mark. It was a delightful floated ball into the box from Chirstian Eriksen met by Dele Alli, who’d made a run from deep to connect on the cross with a volley, which sent the ball across the sprawling goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
At this point it was as comfortable a game as you’re ever likely to see. Spurs were dominant on possession and constantly threatened to double their lead, and just 9 minutes after breaking the deadlock, full-back Ben Davies did exactly that after some wonderful build up play saw the White Hart Dane Eriksen again provide the final touch to lay off Davies inside the box, to stroke the ball past Elliot for a second time.
That goal meant that Ben Davies has scored 2 goals in his last 2 Premier League appearances and has now scored more goals in his last 2 games than in any of his previous 89. Never too late to start scoring, Ben.
After that goal went in the game, as a contest, was killed. Spurs kept the ball for themselves and Newcastle sat back in damage limitation. In fairness, in the last 10 minutes Newcastle did apply some late pressure, with Atsu firing wide from an acute angle and Clark volleying straight into Lloris’ hands from the edge of the box.
Harry Kane was twice denied his 100th goal for Tottenham in stoppage time, with a shot in the 91st minute cannoning off the post after the two-time Golden Boot winner was played through on goal and one-on-one with the goalkeeper. In the 92nd minute, Kane did in fact find the back of the net after tapping in from close range, however much to his disappointment, the linesman had his flag raised for offside.
There were good signs ahead for Spurs, as pre-season injuries to Heung-Min Son and Victor Wanyama, who both featured as second half subs, looked to have been shaken off. Sissoko had an alright game, contributing to some build-up play, but slightly sloppy when on the ball for too long. When Sissoko made way for Son in the 58th minute, the Frenchmen received more boos than a life-long alcoholic. Let’s hope that spurs him on.
3 points and a clean sheet, who could have asked for more? I predicted a 3-1 win, but I’ll always take a 2-0 over a 3-1 any day. Yes, we might have got a bit of luck in Shelvey’s blatant idiocy, but you can only beat who’s put in front of you, and we did so, competently. Today’s opening game turned out to be a mere walk in St James’ Park. Now we roll on to Chelsea next weekend.
Oh, it’s so good to be back. COYS.