Tottenham vs Newcastle: No repeat of last season’s 5-0 thrashing

Tottenham host Newcastle in the Premier League’s early kick-off on Saturday, and the form guide would suggest that the home side should continue their recent strong form. Spurs are unbeaten in nine Premier League games, and have only lost twice at White Hart Lane in 12 games this season. Newcastle on the other hand have been poor on the road, winning only one of their 12 games away from St James Park in 2012/13.

Spurs will hope that Emmanuel Adebayor will be back in consideration to play a part in the fixture, after Togo’s elimination from the African Cup of Nations. Jermain Defoe is ruled out through injury, and the hosts will rely on in-form attacker Gareth Bale to provide the offensive impetus, alongside Clint Dempsey and potentially January signing Lewis Holtby.

Tottenham vs Newcastle

Newcastle have seen a drastic dip in form since their fifth-placed finish last season, with Alan Pardew’s men in 15th place ahead of kick-off. The Geordies have won their last two games however; firstly a win against lowly Aston Villa ended their hoodoo away from home, and a 3-2 victory over Chelsea last time out moved them away from the relegation places.

Tottenham have the chance to move up to third placed temporarily with Chelsea playing later in the day, and another three points to their tally will be necessary to ward off Everton, Liverpool and Arsenal in the hunt for Champions League football.

Pardew has spent in the January transfer window, bringing in a handful of players from France; the quickness with which the newcomers adapt to the English game and to their new Tyneside surrounds could determine the remainder of the campaign for Newcastle. Moussa Sissoko proved that he may be the shot in the arm that the Toon need with two well-taken goals against Chelsea last Saturday.

Spurs won the corresponding fixture 5-0 last season at White Hart Lane, however one would assume that the game will be a lot closer this time round. Both teams need points; an unbeaten ten-match run would suggest Champions League qualification form for Spurs, whilst a second-consecutive away win could move Newcastle within touching distance of the top half.

Liverpool’s rejigged attacking line-up: Where would Clint Dempsey fit in?

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has admitted that he wants to add new faces to his inherited Liverpool squad, with the team’s attack in need of a revamp. With Andy Carroll looking surplus to requirements in the Northern Irishman’s thoughts, sprightly Roma striker Fabio Borini has become Rodgers’ first new signing. However, Fulham forward Clint Dempsey is also a name that has been consistently linked with a move to Anfield – but where would he fit into the Liverpool setup?

The second-half of the season slump that saw the Merseysiders finish eighth in the Premier League last term and cost Kenny Dalglish his job was largely down to a lack of goals and some substandard finishing at times. A total of 47 goals in the 38-game campaign is simply not good enough for a team with top-four ambitions and Rodgers has correctly identified this as an area where reinforcement is needed.

The former Swansea boss’ offensive approach at the Liberty Stadium side should have the Kop witnessing a more forward-thinking team next term, but the personnel needs to be right. It will be interesting to see where the former Swans boss opts to deploy talisman Steven Gerrard, but a berth in central midfield rather than out wide or in behind a striker seems likely.

Luis Suarez’s glimpses of brilliance were a rare bright spark last season, and the side will continue to look to the Uruguayan for inspiration. However, the South American needs assistance, as in a second striker role he needs a hitman to feed off. Presumably this is where Borini fits into Rodgers’ plans.

Dempsey took almost the sole goalscoring responsibility at Craven Cottage last term, with 23 goals in the campaign an excellent return for the United States international. The 29-year-old has become the main man for Martin Jol’s side, and has played in numerous different positions with minimal fuss. If and when he does move to Anfield, Dempsey has the potential to complete a Liverpool team set up in the same style as Rodgers’ Swansea.

A central midfield three of Britten, Sigurdsson and Allen would be replicated presumably by Gerrard, Lucas and Adam/Henderson, with three attackers ahead of this. Borini will act as the Danny Graham type centre forward, with Suarez and Dempsey given the leniency to roam, start from wide and support the main striker.

The American’s determination on the pitch, quality on the ball and added goal threat would surely be an asset at Anfield, and one feels that Liverpool need him alongside Borini to nullify their overdependence on Suarez and complete a more rounded attacking line-up.

Published – Soccerlens

Tottenham and Manchester City: Beware the wrath of the former manager

With the last day of the Premier League season on Sunday, all is still to play for in the race for the Premier League title, top four and in the battle to avoid relegation. Manchester City and Tottenham are in the driving seat in their respective ambitions of winning the league and qualifying for the Champions League. However, one thing stands in their way; a dedicated former manager.

City sit top of the standings on goal difference and need three points against QPR this weekend to seal their first top-flight title since 1968. Roberto Mancini’s men have been imperious at the Etihad Stadium this term, winning 17 out of their 18 games at home and remaining unbeaten as hosts. On paper City should have the quality and motivation to dispatch the Loftus Road side; however, Rangers still need a point to ensure their Premier League status for next season, as a Bolton win away at Stoke would see the London team drop back into the bottom three.

Rangers’ fortunes have taken an upturn since Mark Hughes replaced Neil Warnock as the club’s manager. The newly-promoted side have beaten Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham since the Welsh trainer’s introduction, and have looked like a stubborn and solid side of late.

Reports in the press indicate that QPR owner Tony Fernandes will reward Hughes with a £1 million payout should he keep the club in the top flight, however the head coach will be motivated to prove a point for other reasons this Sunday. Hughes was treated harshly in his stint at City, dispatched by the club and their lofty ambitions after Sheik Mansour’s takeover, and the Rangers boss will feel that Mancini has taken advantage of the groundwork set by him.

Hughes did not have stars such as David Silva, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and others at his disposal during his time at the club, and in the early stages of the City revolution patience was not in abundance. Hughes has excelled since leaving the Manchester team, both at Fulham and QPR, and will be keen to show that City’s current success may originate from his initial underpinnings.

Meanwhile, in north London Tottenham are on the verge of reclaiming a top-four spot, and need three points at home to Fulham to confirm fourth place at least. Although finishing in third is also possible if Arsenal slip-up at West Brom, Harry Redknapp has admitted that he will be happy to claim fourth place.

Spurs’ early-season heroics have hit a sizeable roadblock over the last two months, and the White Hart Lane club have dropped from potential title challengers to scrapping for fourth. However, Martin Jol and Fulham stand in the way of a successful campaign for Spurs.

Fulham have had a good second half of the season, and the likes of Moussa Dembele, Pavel Pogrebnyak and especially Clint Dempsey will prove a threat to Spurs’ season. Martin Jol is a popular figure at White Hart Lane after his stint in the club’s hotseat. The Dutch trainer put the wheels in motion for Spurs’ current place as one of he country’s best teams, and led Tottenham to two fifth-placed finishes.

Jol has done a good job with Fulham also, and Spurs are by no means guaranteed an easy three points. Similar to Hughes, Jol will feel that his departure from Tottenham was slightly unjust, and the headhunting of Juande Ramos to replace him will have left a slightly bitter taste in the mouth. Jol will look to prove a point to Daniel Levy and the rest of the Tottenham board this weekend, and in doing so could well end the north London club’s hopes of Champions League football.

Cech penalty save denies Fulham win‏

Chelsea can thank goalkeeper Petr Cech for an away point at Fulham, after the towering keeper saved a 93rd minute Clint Dempsey penalty to salvage a 0-0 draw for the defending Premiership champions. In a game that Chelsea dominated but lacked a killer instinct in the last third, Fulham will be kicking themselves as a golden chance to beat their London neighbours for only the second time in 29 attempts went begging with Cech’s heroics.
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti controversially left Didier Drogba on the bench and instead opted to pair new signing Fernando Torres with Nicolas Anelka, a combination that promised much but failed to deliver. Chelsea had the bulk of the play and possession, but despite neat passing and interchanges, could not find the back of the Fulham net. The visitors main chances fell to £50 million man Torres, but the Spaniard wasted two golden opportunities to give his new team the lead, and probably three points.
Fulham’s Andy Johnson looked lively and was The Cottagers main threat, however Clint Dempsey did not capitalise on a great opportunity to give the home side a smash and grab victory with his extra time penalty miss. It was Chelsea debutant David Luiz who conceded the penalty; however fouling Dempsey in extra time was the only blemish on an assured and impressive performance by the new Chelsea defender. Dempsey hit the resulting spot kick straight at Cech, and missed the rebound in spectacular fashion, denying Fulham three points.

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