In a summer which has seen the club come under fire from its own fans and players for the supposed lack of ambition in the transfer market up to now, the Premier League season started with what looked to be a tricky away day to Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle side – who unforgettably hammered us 5-1 in the last game of the 2015/16 season.
With Kyle Walker-Peters making his Premier League debut at right-back and Moussa Sissoko making a return to his old club, slotting in on the right hand side of the midfield, boss Mauricio Pochettino raised eyebrows with his first starting XI of the season. Walker-Peters at right back surprised a lot of people, with Pochettino admitting last week the youngster was “not ready” to play in the Premier League following some dodgy performances in the clubs pre-season friendlies whilst on tour in the USA.
However, as he has done so many times whilst he’s been manager of Tottenham Hotspur, Pochettino got it spot on. Kyle Walker-Peters was named man of the match on his Premier League debut and was excellent as Spurs cruised to a 2-0 win over a Newcastle side which played with 10 men for the majority of the second half, thanks to a stupid stamp on Dele Alli by Jonjo Shelvey in the 48th minute. The London born right-back was a threat on the right-hand side all game, possessing the pace and tactical understanding of knowing when to bomb up the pitch to support the forwards and knowing when to drop back in to position to provide defensive cover. Whilst not being tested much defensively, he proved his worth going forward on several occasions, making the right passes at the right times.
Spurs, who went for a 4-2-3-1 formation, controlled the tempo and the ball throughout the game and were not really troubled apart from a couple of half-chances from Christian Atsu and Ciaran Clark for Newcastle. Excellent performances by Eric Dier and Moussa Dembele, who occupied the two deeper-lying midfield positions, enabled Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli to push on and support Harry Kane who was keeping the two Newcastle centre halves busy with his movement and directness all game.
Christian Eriksen was an absolute delight to watch yet again yesterday. So often overlooked due to the goal scoring exploits of Kane and ridiculous talent of Dele Alli, it is very rare that you see the Dane have a poor game. Picking the ball up from deep, beating several midfielders/defenders and then delivering passes and crosses with pinpoint accuracy, he is a key component of this Spurs side. The first goal was all down to him – picking it up roughly 20 yards out, he looped in a beautiful pass, finding Dele Alli, who latched on to it and guided the ball past Newcastle keeper Rob Elliott. The weight of the pass to take out the entire Newcastle back line is something which very few players in the Premier League are capable of, but Eriksen’s one of them.
The second goal come from an unexpected source – following on from a superbly worked 1-2 in close proximity deep inside Newcastle’s half, left-back Ben Davies latched on to a loose ball inside the opposition’s penalty area and slotted with the composure of a centre half under the Newcastle keeper to bag us the 3 points and get our season off to the best possible start.
With moves for Ajax centre half Davinson Sanchez and Celta Vigo midfidler Pape Cheikh Dop thought to be close – with some media outlets reporting both deals are going to be completed this week for a combined total of £50m – much-needed reinforcements seem to finally be on their way. However, with a bench that contained Heung-Min Son and Vincent Wanyama yesterday, competition for places will become even stronger, with the signing of Sanchez in particular being a welcome addition to a defence which desperately needs bolstering.
Spurs face London rivals Chelsea in the second Premier League fixture of the season in their first home game at Wembley on Sunday 20th August, 16:00pm kickoff. With Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill both set to miss the game due to both being sent off in their home defeat against Chelsea, two wins out of two to start the season would be fantastic.