So, it’s been a while, what with nothing really happening in the way of incoming transfers since the flurry of activity that heralded AVB’s arrival, but here we are at the beginning of another Premier League season. The thing is, it’s a little odd this time around, as the team that heads out on the opening day definitely isn’t the finished article. Sure, last year we were still awaiting the signing of Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor, and the team was perhaps looking similarly unfinished (Defoe started as a lone striker before being joined by Pavlyuchenko late on, and Krancjar played in central midfield in the absence of Modric), but this year, there could be three or four new faces through the door by the time the transfer window snaps shut.
If there’s some encouragement to be taken ahead of tomorrow, it’s that Newcastle will be suffering from a comparable scarcity of personnel, though in their case due to injury. Cabaye, Ba, Cisse and Ben Arfa are all reportedly big doubts, and if all four prove to be absent it would certainly tilt the odds in our favour. With so many teams pushing for the top four places, it’d be great to get off to the opposite of the start we experienced last season; this early on, the results don’t feel like they matter as much, but come the end of the season we could be rueing dropping points if it comes down to fine margins. Let’s hope AVB has a decent game-plan despite the incomplete squad. Meanwhile, have some perfunctory stats:
- Spurs will only have one player absent through injury on the opening day, with Scott Parker out until mid-September following Achilles surgery. Sandro, likely to start in his stead, made a tackle every 16.8 minutes of playing time last season; more than any other player from the top four teams.
- Encouragingly, Spurs are undefeated in their last 5 matches against Newcastle in all competitions (WWDDW). Newcastle last triumphed in the fixture in the 2008/09 season, with a 2-1 home win.
- Now the bad news; you may recall that Spurs’ away form in the second half of last season was, well, appalling. Having failed to win 9 of their last 10 away games, it’d be nice to put a bugbear to rest and see us triumph tomorrow. Of course, having said that, Spurs actually gained the most points from away matches last season (27) than they’ve managed in any other Premier League season. What to think?
- Newcastle’s pre-season has been, by-and-large, a forgettable one. Two wins (against Hartlepool and ten-man Braga), three draws (against Fenerbache, Olympiakos and A. D. Haag), and most recently, one loss – a somewhat embarrassing 4-1 defeat at the hands of Cardiff.
- By way of contrast, Spurs won three, drew two and lost one of their six pre-season games.
- Spurs have an impressively indifferent record on the opening day of the season. Since the Premier League’s inception, the record reads 6 wins, 6 draws, and 7 defeats. Newcastle, meanwhile, achieve the perfect balance of 6, 6, and 6. Wouldn’t object to Spurs adding one to that last number.
- Gareth Bale will be hoping a change in shirt number brings about a change in fortune. In the last 14 games of last season, he failed to score, despite taking a whopping 54 shots on goal. Below is an interesting graphic from WhoScored.com, showing how the team has fared both with and without Bale over the past few seasons, perhaps suggesting that he hasn’t been as pivotal to the team as some might think:
- Last season, Spurs didn’t lose a single game in which they were leading at the half-time interval. Conclusion: score before half-time.
- On the defending front, Spurs conceded just 7 goals in the last 900 minutes of football last season.
On Twitter: @AEFSpurs.