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Aug 11, 2018 at 12.30pm UK
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Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Newcastle United - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Newcastle United - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full preview of Newcastle United's opening Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur.
By , Senior Reporter | 1y

Following a summer of disappointment for both sides, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur lock horns at St James' Park on Saturday afternoon in their opening Premier League fixture of the campaign.

This is the fourth time that the sides have met on the opening weekend of a Prem season, making it the most contested of any curtain-raising fixture.

Newcastle United

Frustrated Toon boss Rafael Benitez has once again had his hands tied behind his back during the summer, having been made to settle for low-costing players - £9.5m Japanese striker Yoshinori Muto being their marquee signing - and loan recruits.

Newcastle still very much tick all the boxes for a club being on the brink of crisis, with popular manager Benitez being pushed closer to the exit, players going on strike over a bonus row - which has since been resolved - and supporters threatening to revolt.

All this ultimately comes down to one man, as owner Mike Ashley's reluctance to loosen the purse strings has left United in a precarious position. Unlike opponents Tottenham, however, Ashley will argue that his side are at least stronger than three months ago through the additionks of Muto, Federico Fernandez, Ki Sung-yueng, Fabian Schar and Salomon Rondon.

That may be true, but it has to be factored in that Benitez worked wonders last season, somehow guiding a squad filled with players from the Championship 12 months prior into the top half of the division - the highest finish for a newly-promoted side since West Ham United in 2013.

Newcastle flirted with the relegation zone in the second half of the campaign, though, and things could have turned out a whole lot different if it was not for the manager, who many feel is worthy of a job at a team higher up the division.

The arrival of Rondon on loan from West Bromwich Albion in the final stages of the transfer window is a major boost for the Magpies, having failed to score in any of their final three pre-season outings. Following a goalless draw away at Porto, United lost 4-0 to Braga and 1-0 at home to German side Augsburg.

The quality of finishing in that final summer outing was particularly worrying, so Benitez will need his new centre-forward to hit the ground running. With Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal to face in their opening five games - a trip to Cardiff City on the second matchday their only reprieve - the cries for change in the boardroom may only grow louder.

Pre-season form: WDDLL

Tottenham Hotspur

The headline fact from a disappointing couple of months of transfer activity is that Tottenham became the first Premier League side to fail to make a signing since the summer window was introduced in 2003.

Mauricio Pochettino, to his credit, has managed to put on a brave face when talking to the press, insisting that he is more than happy with his current squad. Spurs did, it should be remembered, tie star man Harry Kane down to a new contract right at the start of the summer.

It certainly cannot be argued that Tottenham do not have a settled squad, and former Paris Saint-Germain winger Lucas Moura has also now had some time to settle following his January move, but there is a real sense that Spurs have stagnated in a summer when they really could have done with pushing on.

The North London outfit, set to move into a new 61,000-capacity stadium next month, regressed slightly last season by finishing third in the Premier League, compared to second the year before. Of more concern to supporters was the failure to properly challenge for silverware, taking their dry spell in that regard past the 10-year mark.

Pochettino has at least acknowledged the importance of winning something this year; now it is a case of proving that a settled side and a top-class manager is the perfect formula for success. A campaign of mediocrity, though, and you have to wonder whether Poch will be tempted away should a rival club come calling in a year's time.

Spurs had a decent enough summer on the field, at least, as they beat Roma and AC Milan in Stateside friendlies, while also playing out a 2-2 draw with Barcelona. Last week's 4-1 loss to Girona stands out for the wrong reasons, but a mixed XI was fielded and Pochettino was justified in his 'jet lag' remarks.

Pochettino can, however, forget about any momentum from the tail end of last season - champions Manchester City the only side to pick up more points in 2018 - as a number of his players are expected to be absent for the first fortnight. Getting the likes of Dele Alli, Hugo Lloris and top scorer Kane back to full fitness will be key to any hope they have of success this time around.

Pre-season form: WDWL

Team News

Those who could miss this weekend's Premier League opener due to their World Cup exploits include Kane, Alli, Lloris, Mousa Dembele, Eric Dier, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.

Pochettino has already hinted that Kane will play some part, but he intends to wait until after training on Friday before deciding which of his fatigued stars have any hope of featuring.

Meanwhile, Juan Foyth, Victor Wanyama, Erik Lamela and Harry Winks are all injured and will not play any part.

Should Kane start or come off the bench, he will be hoping to end a dreadful run that has seen him go 13 games - or 898 minutes - without registering a goal in the month of August.

In terms of the home side, Benitez is without Florian Lejeune because of a knee injury sustained during the off-season, but he does appear to be well stocked in the centre of defence.

New recruits Schar and Fernandez are battling for a starting spot, although the tried and trusted Ciaran Clark and skipper Jamaal Lascelles may well keep their places in the side.

Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, whose loan move from last season has since been made permanent, is carrying a knock, but there are no concerns over new strikers Rondon and Muto.

Newcastle United possible starting lineup:
Dubravka; Dummett, Clark, Lascelles, Yedlin; Kennedy, Diame, Shelvey, Ritchie; Perez, Rondon

Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:
Vorm; Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele; Lucas, Eriksen, Son; Llorente

Head To Head

Tottenham beat Newcastle 2-0 at St James' Park on this corresponding matchday last season, earning the win through second-half goals from Alli and Ben Davies after Jonjo Shelvey had seen red.

Newcastle also lost the reverse fixture 1-0 in April, meaning that they are at risk of losing three in a row to Spurs without scoring for the first time since 2005.

Only once in 25 Premier League games against United have the Lilywhites failed to score - a 1-0 defeat at White Hart Lane in November 2013.

We say: Newcastle United 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Judging by the form from the back end of the last campaign, which admittedly often counts for little when a new season comes around, this is a tough one to call. Newcastle have lost just one of eight league games here in 2018, beating the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United in that time, while Spurs lost just one of their last nine away matches in 2017-18.

United have failed to win on the opening day in the top flight since 2012, though, ironically against the Lilywhites in North London, and we are backing this one to finish as a score draw.

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2Manchester CityMan City25163665293651
3Leicester CityLeicester26155654262850
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs2611784334940
6Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd2610972824439
7Manchester UnitedMan Utd2610883829938
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2681263532336
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2687112440-1631
14Crystal Palace2679102332-930
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2669113138-727
17Aston Villa2674153450-1625
18West Ham UnitedWest Ham2566133043-1324
20Norwich CityNorwich2646162448-2418
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