At long last the Premier League is back and boy is it back with a bang. There were 13 goals scored in just the first two fixtures of this 2017-18 season, and after that 9-man Chelsea lost 3-2 at home to Burnley, who only won 1 away game in all competitions last season. If this is a taste of what’s to come, then I can’t wait.
I think the goals will continue flow through to Sunday too. I reckon Spurs will grab the 3 points at Newcastle, but I don’t think we’ll keep a clean sheet either. There will be an almost ceremonious atmosphere at St James’ Park tomorrow. The Newcastle faithful sat through a long year of Championship football last season for the second time in 7 seasons. So the hunger will definitely be there to stabilise their top-flight status.
However, much like Spurs, Newcastle’s Summer preparations have been the subject of one or two headlines recently, with club Chairman Mike Ashley confusingly stating in an interview that Magpies boss Rafa Benitez does not have the funds available to efficiently strengthen in the transfer market. In the interview Ashley carefully explained why he understands any unhappiness or frustration Benitez feels, as Newcastle are fundamentally incapable of competing, on a financial basis, with teams like Manchester City.
In response, Benitez declared that the club’s transfer business, or lack thereof, would be no excuse for his players not to perform in the League this season. Now, is it just me, or does it not sound exactly like excuses? I mean, they’ve spent over £30 million on 4 different players. They’ve been active in the market and they finished top of the Championship to win their promotion. Surely around now we’d be hearing nothing but tales of ‘excitement’ and ‘desire’ from the Newcastle camp ahead of their return to the Premier League. Not this.
So I’m not sure what to make of Newcastle. Are they expecting to go straight back down? They’re exuding absolutely no confidence whatsoever. Tottenham on the other hand are all about trying to convince us they’re ready for the new season, despite not spending a penny on any new players at all. How odd.
But we all trust this team. We believe them when they tell us they’ll challenge again next season. They’ve earned that trust from us. No matter what Danny Rose has to say about that. Rose himself will still be unavailable for the game, as will Erik Lamela, Kieran Trippier and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou, who all miss out through injury. We’ve not received any solid information on the injuries to Victor Wanyama and Heung-Min Son, who might just be available for selection, but are still doubtful to feature.
I don’t feel as though we’re all that defensively weakened without Trippier at right-back. Our 3 at the back formation utilises wing-backs in attack more than defence, so I don’t feel any concern in Moussa Sissoko featuring back there, or Son again, if he’s fit. Dier could do a decent job as right-back, but I don’t anticipate him bombing down the wing the same way Sissoko would. I really hope the Frenchman can prove his worth tomorrow. Newcastle have been laughing their socks off since they got £30 million off us for him. Tomorrow’s the perfect platform for him to shut them up, so for that reason, I hope he starts.
Newcastle are only missing their 21 year old right-back Jamie Sterry and former Spur Deandre Yedlin, whereas last season’s club top scorer with 23 goals Dwight Gayle has shaken off a hamstring problem and is expected to play. Despite our absentees and their home advantage, we’re going to win this one I reckon, because that 5-1 defeat from two seasons ago needs put to bed.
There will be a massive thirst to right that wrong tomorrow. I know us fans all feel it. Not to mention the fact that Newcastle beat us at the Lane that year too. They’ve somehow become our bogey team, and champions don’t have bogey teams. We need to make a statement at St James’ and I don’t think Newcastle will be able to stop us.
That said, it’s opening day and they’re at home, so they might get a goal. I’m going with 3-1 Tottenham and Harry Kane to shake off those August blues. We’re motivated, we’re ready, so let’s make a really strong start.
What’s your prediction? Do I have it all wrong? Feel free to tell me.