Back-to-back matches away from the Lane saw us take four points courtesy of two Gareth Bale strikes. This weekend sees us return home to take on a resurgent Magpies side for Spurs vs Newcastle.
After rolling their way to fifth last season, the Geordies have had a tough time of it this term. However, with owner Mike Ashley investing heavily in a stock of talent from France in January, Newcastle have won their last two and look ready to climb back up the table.
The Tottenham tactics need to be spot on for Spurs vs Newcastle this Saturday, so what will the Magpies throw at us?
Spurs vs Newcastle set up and formation
Newcastle have moved to a 4-2-3-1 formation since their January signings have arrived and Demba Ba has departed. The arrival of wide forward Yoan Gouffran also allows them to go 4-3-3, but so far with Jonas Gutierrez out wide, rather than the more attacking Hatem Ben Arfa, they have gone for the former set-up.
With this new line-up, Newcastle still are conceding possession to teams, having averaged 47% of the ball in their last two fixtures – their season average is 48%. However, now they are really favouring the right side to launch their attacks, with an average of 45% going this side (WhoScored.com), since the new recruits arrived.
Gouffran and Gutierrez can switch flanks to cause problems, whilst Moussa Sissoko has been marauding through the midfield after arriving from Toulouse. Yohan Cabaye continues to pull the strings, but from a deeper position just in front of James Perch. The former Nottingham Forest man will probably make way for Cheick Tiote now that Ivory Coast are out of the AFCON.
Up front Papiss Demba-Cisse looks like he is enjoying life back in the centre and being a number nine again. Goals against Aston Villa, Everton and Man Utd recently indicate that he could be on the road to something that vaguely resembles the goal-scoring machine he was last season.
Jonas Gutierrez and Yoan Gouffran
The advanced midfield three is where Newcastle are making things tick since the new signings arrived on Tyneside. We’ll look at Moussa Sissoko next, but Jonas Gutierrez and Yoan Gouffran are playing well and creating from the wide positions.
Both players are able to switch flanks, but so far we’ve seen more of the Argentinean on the right and the Frenchman on the left.
Newcastle have favoured Gutierrez’s right side to attack and he is playing more as a winger hugging the touchline, putting in both high and low-driven crosses. Newcastle are a side that likes to put the ball in to the middle from wide areas and in two matches with their new signings, 38 of their 54 crosses have come from the right.
On the other side, Yoan Gouffran is cutting inside from his starting position on the left to join Papiss Demba-Cisse in the middle. He is a threat to shoot or get on the end of a cross, but when the ball does go through his flank, he is able to create for others and he is a very under-rated passer.
As we can see from Newcastle’s last match with Chelsea, Jonas Gutierrez stays wide hugging the touchline, whereas Gouffran starts wide and comes in to receive the ball.
The Tottenham tactics here need to focus on forcing these two back. Benni will have his hands full if Newcastle continues to attack down the right side with the quick and strong Gutierrez. Over on the right, as looked at earlier this season, Kyle Walker has had problems with wide players who drift in to the middle. Shinji Kagawa lost him to score at Old Trafford and Juan Mata did the same in Chelsea’s 4-2 victory at the Lane. Walker will have to be especially careful of Yoan Gouffran here.
The marauding Moussa Sissoko
The third player in the advanced midfield three is the newly arrived Moussa Sissoko, who Andre Villas-Boas has said is a massive coup for Newcastle.
“Sissoko was a great grab. A couple of years ago he was being linked with the top clubs in the world and to get him at such a low price was a massive coup for them.”
Sissoko has played as both a defensive and advanced midfielder for Toulouse, but in his first two matches for Newcastle, looks like he might be let of the leash.
So far he has been playing in-behind Papiss Demba-Cisse, but he does spend a good deal of time moving out in to wider positions to get involved in the build-up play.
From here he is able to drive forward in to space or play through balls. He showed that he is a decent passer by putting in Demba-Cisse for the Geordies’ opener at Aston Villa. He also attempted to slip in several passes to the Senegalese striker last weekend against Chelsea.
The Tottenham tactics for Newcastle vs Spurs here, should be to stop Sissoko building up a head of steam. He brought Newcastle back against Chelsea, as he was afforded the time to dribble in to open space between the lines and get shots away. Scott Parker will be busy, but he may be better deployed on Yohan Cabaye, with the size, speed and strength of Moussa Dembele a better match up on Sissoko.
Yohan Cabaye’s through balls
Yohan Cabaye may be operating from a slightly deeper position, but he is still a vital cog in the Newcastle team. The Frenchman is a danger to deliver from set pieces with his accurate corners and deadly free-kicks, but is playing as a facilitator just in front of James Perch.
Cabaye now moves the ball out to the flanks, more often to the right than the left, whilst looking for longer balls through and over the opposition defence.
Against both Chelsea and Aston Villa we can see how a lot of his passing is diagonal out to the flanks to set the play going, but how he also plays longer through balls in to the area. The majority of these longer passes failed to find their targets, but we have to be aware that he’ll play this ball with our high line.
Yohan Cabaye will get on the ball and initiate the play, but the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Newcastle here need to guard against his longer passing and through balls. Papiss Demba-Cisse will be looking to get in-behind our high defensive line, so Hugo Lloris will have to sweep up if Dawson and Vertonghen are unable to clear.
Attack the Newcastle right back
With the Magpies heavily favouring their right side to attack, they can over-commit, leaving full back Mathieu Debuchy exposed. Newcastle have had trouble with this area all season due to their numerous injuries, but it is still a concern even with Debuchy now installed in the position.
Teams have had success in creating chances through this area all season, with Chelsea and Aston Villa no exception in Newcastle’s last two Premier League fixtures. Both sides created decent chances originating in the Magpies’ right back zone.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Newcastle here will be interesting due to the deployment of Gareth Bale.
On the left, the Welshman could have a lot of joy up against an exposed Debuchy if Gutierrez doesn’t help him out. However, with the recent attention Bale has been getting, Andre Villas-Boas moved him in to a more central position against West Brom. Whilst this frees up the Welshman, it may take our most destructive force away from Newcastle’s area of weakness.
Spurs vs Newcastle outlook
A few weeks ago, this would have been a home banker, but Newcastle have been playing some good football since their new recruits have arrived.
Yoan Gouffran is a threat to come inside from his wide midfield role when the attacks are going through Jonas Gutierrez’s right side. Moussa Sissoko is a driving force from the midfield, who can put others in, but is a threat to shoot if unchallenged.
Yohan Cabaye pulls the strings from a now deeper midfield role, but his long through balls are still a threat to a team playing a high line.
The deployment of Gareth Bale will be key here. Logic would suggest he go back to the left to exploit Newcastle’s weakness in the right back area, but Andre Villas-Boas’ pre-match press conference may suggest otherwise.
“Lewis offers further options playing from the channels coming in. We haven’t seen him in this position yet, but he finds comfort in that position because he played it before for Mainz.”
So, for Spurs vs Newcastle, we may see Gareth Bale again deployed centrally behind a striker, with Lewis Holtby this time playing in from the left. An interesting decision, which i wouldn’t be surprised to see get changed if the game is not going our way.
Spurs vs Newcastle prediction: Spurs 2 Newcastle 1