Opinion: Player Ratings: Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Newcastle United

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Tottenham Hotspur fell to a sickening draw this afternoon at home against Newcastle United after the referees awarded the visitors a ridiculous last minute penalty for a handball. Spurs were comfortable in the game from start to finish, and one can argue that the team should have converted at least one more of their many chances in the game, but this still shouldn’t take away from the ridiculous refereeing that was on display. 

Tottenham started the game brightly from the kick-off as the hosts created early chances through the brilliant play of Kane. However, Karl Darlow in the Newcastle goal was having one of those games, just as many other Newcastle keepers in the past. The keeper had 11 total saves in the match, with many coming in the first half against Kane. The first 20 minutes of the match had the theme of comfort for Spurs as they played the game at a walking pace, especially in the midfield. Yet they were able to dominate possession, and create good chances through Son who hit the woodwork twice, and Kane who tested Darlow time and time again. 

In the 25th minute though, the patience paid off for Spurs as Lucas was able to poke the ball home from close range after a good cross from Kane on the counter. The rest of the first half was more of the same as Tottenham missed some great chances to double their lead against an abysmal Newcastle team. 

In the second half, Mourinho clearly started to think about the upcoming fixtures on Tuesday and Thursday as he took off Son for Bergwijn and told his team to lower the tempo even more, sit back and wait for the counters. Newcastle had a little bit more possession which amounted to nothing and Spurs wasted many promising counter opportunities mainly due to Lucas’ bad play. 

With the game winding down and Tottenham looking comfortable to claim all 3 points, Newcastle had one last throw of the dice from a free kick. The ball in the air was contested by Andy Carroll and Eric Dier who was pushed from behind by Lascelles just before he jumped. Carroll then managed to get his wayward header to ricochet off Dier’s out of control arms, and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Callum Wilson converted the resulting penalty, and Spurs were left speechless and without 3 points after playing one of their best games of the last 12 months. 

Jose Mourinho and his team now have to pick themselves up quickly and prepare for their League Cup game against Chelsea on Tuesday, which should be a very difficult one considering the lack of rest after this game and having to plan for the Europa League match on Thursday. 

Player Ratings

Hugo Lloris – 6 – Had nothing to do all game long as Newcastle failed to have a single shot on target before the penalty. He was close to saving that one as well but Wilson’s shot fell just out of his reach. 

Matt Doherty – 7 – It was a performance that made me question him again but at least there were a lot more positives than negatives today from the Irishman. His attacking intelligence creates a new dimension for the Spurs attack as he makes runs both inside and outside of his winger to create chances for himself and his teammates which worked quite well today. He was constantly in the danger areas and almost had an assist for Son who hit the bar. On the other end of the pitch though, he again had some suspect moments, and this being against a terrible Newcastle attack is the real worry. Hopefully, he will be moulded into a better team defender by Mourinho.  

Davinson Sanchez – 6 – Tottenham defenders didn’t really have to do too much today apart from chasing hopeful long balls from the opposition and making the occasional tackle/interception. Sanchez really benefited from this lack of pressure as he was not exposed like he was against Southampton. He finished the game with 3 interceptions and 1 tackle and 89% pass accuracy, although he should have been a lot better with his passing.   

Eric Dier – 6 – Such an unlucky end to a decent game from Dier. He was the main building block for Spurs, being the better ball playing centre-back, and he was always in control against the little counter threat of Newcastle. The decision went against him today, but he can build on this performance with a number of games coming up soon to redeem himself. 

Ben Davies – 4 – Most likely the last game for Davies as the first choice left-back went the way it has been over the last few months. The left-back was okay at the back apart from that heart-stopping botched clearance towards the end, and ineffective going forwards with lack of ideas and quality in the final third. He’s still a good squad player that will feature a lot more in this season, but Reguilon should slot into his starting spot without much discussion.  

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – 8 – The Danish midfielder had the best game of his short Spurs career as he was a real presence on both ends of the play from start to finish. Alongside Winks, he was tasked with being the connection between his defence and attack against a very deep Newcastle defence. He didn’t put in a creative masterclass, but he was assured on the ball, quickly recycling possession, and finding his attackers with some incisive passes on occasion. He was also positionally great at the back, not allowing Newcastle midfielders time on the ball, and protecting his defence.

Harry Winks – 7 – He was clearly a lot better in a game where he was not defensively challenged and it allowed him to show his qualities on the ball. The midfielder was still not at a level where he should be, but still finished the game with 96% pass accuracy, 1 key pass and 3 tackles made. However, one play in the second half showed why the fans are so frustrated with him as he and Doherty allowed Joelinton who was trapped in the corner to turn and attack the Spurs goal, creating a dangerous opportunity for the visitors. Hopefully he’ll be on the bench against United next week, but it all depends on Hojbjerg and Ndombele’s fitness and form.  

Giovani Lo Celso – 8 – The Argentine ran the show again for Spurs who desperately need him to be the link behind the attackers. He was all over the attacking third, constantly looking for space against a very tight Newcastle defence. He finished the game with 2 key passes and could have had an assist or a goal himself with the performance he put in. 

Lucas Moura – 3 – Even in a game where he scores the team’s only goal, Lucas manages to be the team’s worst player on the pitch. His performance was a shambles from start to finish with countless promising opportunities for Spurs coming to an abrupt end due to his poor choices and ability. With his current form, he should be nowhere near the first XI, but he will continue to start until Bale gets back to fitness. 

Heung-min Son – 7 – An amazing 45 minutes from the South Korean who was really unlucky not to be on the scoresheet twice today. He hit the woodwork twice in the first half from outside the box that would have killed the game off for Spurs. Outside of his shooting though, he was so lively in the attacking third, always looking to run in behind or feed his teammates for good opportunities. 

Harry Kane – 9 – Best player on the pitch today for either team in my opinion. Kane was everywhere today, as he wanted to create not only for his teammates like he did against Southampton last weekend, but also for himself a lot more. He ended the match with 8 shots, 5 on target, 1 assist, and 2 key passes. He was very unlucky with how well Darlow played today, as he could have had 2 or 3 in another game. He can really do it all, and with the form he and Son are in right now, Spurs can solidify their spot in the top 4 in the coming weeks. 

Subs

Steven Bergwijn – 6 – It was a decent enough performance from Bergwijn but he really needs to create a lot more these days for Mourinho to even think of him in the starting XI in place of Lucas. Being better than Lucas simply won’t be enough to displace him, and with Bale coming in, he will have a lot less opportunities to impress. It is worth pointing out how good he was on the defensive end today though as he put in 2 tackles and 4 successful duels in 45 minutes, and that should hopefully please Mourinho. 

Tanguy Ndombele – 7 – Only 18 total minutes on the pitch for Ndombele but that was enough to show his immense abilities yet again. He’s going to be a star in this league, and the midfield trio of Hojbjerg, Ndombele, and Lo Celso has title-winning ability.  

Erik Lamela – N/R 

Manager

Jose Mourinho – 6 – A lot better from Mourinho today as he benefited from Steve Bruce’s poor approach to this game. Spurs look so dangerous on the counters and this is a great sign, but his decision to stick with Lucas who kills 90% of the counters before they can even get to the opposition penalty area is such a baffling one. His decision to also let the game die at 1-0 after 45 minutes was not a wise one as he really should have gone for the second and third goals before letting Newcastle back into the game. He also needs to instill a better defensive identity to the team but I believe he needs to bring in a quality centre-back before that can happen. He will be undeniably angry with the penalty decision today as it not only took away the 3 points but also took away from the great play of his team, but the improvement signs are there for Spurs who are looking like top 4 contenders.    

 

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