Tottenham vs Newcastle: Five key observations

Loïc Rémy

Newcastle claimed the scalp of a London club for the second week in a row, with Alan Pardew’s men following their victory over Chelsea with a 1-0 win at Tottenham.

Loic Remy scored the decisive goal in the first half, while Tim Krul put in a man of the match performance to deny the hosts on countless occasions.

Here are the top five observations from the clash.

The merits of a threat in behind

Loïc Rémy

Playing Loic Remy through the middle proved the difference between the sides, with the sprightly France international playing on the shoulder of the Tottenham defence and getting his goal as a result.

The threat of the QPR loanee’s pace in behind the Spurs back four was apparent from the first whistle, with Tottenham captain Michael Dawson struggling to contain Remy.

Spurs on the other hand had no such threat. Christian Eriksen had the opportunity to thread balls through to Roberto Soldado on occasion but opted not to do it. All Tottenham’s play was in front of the Newcastle defence, making attacks easier to sniff out.

The fact that Tottenham were only caught offside twice in the entire game shows this, and is something Andre Villas-Boas must address. A threat in behind opposition will stretch teams, and could get the best out of Soldado.

Dembele poor, Sandro excellent

Mousa Dembele was substituted at half-time following an underwhelming first 45, where he was guilty of coughing up possession repeatedly in his own half.

The Belgian was guilty of keeping the ball too long, over complicating things and playing team-mates into trouble.

Sandro’s introduction sped up Tottenham’s play, as the Brazilian more often than not took only one or two touches before finding a team-mate.

The substitute also put in some excellent tackles and gave Spurs’ midfield much-needed energy and drive.

Toon full-backs impressive

Mathieu Debuchy

Both of Newcastle’s full-backs had impressive afternoons, helping out their centre halves with excellent positional play.

Davide Santon following Spurs danger man Andros Townsend infield and snuffed out any overlapping from Kyle Walker. The fact that the Italian is right footed but plays on the left helped when Townsend looked to move centrally also.

On the other flank, Mathieu Debuchy made a number of last-ditch tackles, telling clearances and won the ball in the air. His potency completely nullified Tottenham’s attacking efforts down that side of the pitch.

4-4-2 suits Newcastle

Newcastle had been experimenting with a bespoke 4-3-3 system, but reverted back to 4-4-2 here to great effect.

Remy’s pace through the middle along with Shoala Ameobi’s stature was a nice blend, while Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote are good enough to boss things in the middle of the park without the presence of an additional combatant.

Moussa Sissoko may well prefer to play centrally but prospered on the right flank, and all-in-all Newcastle used the system well.

Tottenham have problems on the left

The issues over playing best defender Jan Vertonghen at left-back have been discussed, but ahead of the Belgian there are issues also.

Villas-Boas has experimented with a number of players there with no answer to the problem position. Gylfi Sigurdsson had very little influence on the game from the left on Sunday, while Aaron Lennon and Nacer Chadli have also failed to make the position their own.

With this in mind, it could be worthwhile to push left-footed Townsend onto his natural side, allowing for the introduction of Erik Lamela on the right.

Keeping Townsend wide on the left would also lead to more space centrally, while the Argentine looks ready to play a part.

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