OPTA PREVIEW: Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United
Tottenham suffered their first league defeat of the calendar year at Middlesbrough on Tuesday night and this Sunday they entertain one of the two remaining sides who are unbeaten in 2004 as Newcastle come to White Hart Lane.
Bobby Robson’s men have lost just one of their last fifteen Premiership games and have their eyes firmly set on the fourth Champions League spot this season. The capital isn’t traditionally a happy hunting ground for Newcastle though, with the Magpies' two heaviest-ever Premiership defeats both coming in London.
Spurs and Newcastle are both able to boast very similar attacking records so far this season, with there being just one goal difference in their tallies to date. On Tuesday night, Middlesbrough became the first side to prevent Tottenham from scoring in 2004, but David Pleat’s side have bagged one more goal than Newcastle from their 27 games this season. Newcastle have created slightly more goal scoring opportunities, but it is Spurs who have produced the better accuracy with 44% of their shots on target and the better finishing ability with 14% of chances converted over the course of the season.
Newcastle skipper Alan Shearer is unsurprisingly their leading marksman this season with 17 goals to his name. The majority of these were scored in the early part of the season though, with his brace against Spurs back in December being his 14th and 15th of the campaign. Shearer clearly enjoys his encounters against Tottenham as he has hit 13 Premiership goals against them in his career - only Leeds, Everton and Coventry have been punished more by Shearer.
The Tottenham defence can therefore expect to be in for a tough time on Sunday and it is in defence where they fall down in comparison to Newcastle. Spurs have conceded 15 more goals than the Magpies this season and only two sides — Blackburn and Leeds — have kept fewer clean sheets than Tottenham. Newcastle have conceded an average of just over a goal per game this season and since they suffered a 5-0 drubbing at Chelsea back in November, no one has scored more than once against them during a match.
Spurs however, will break this sequence if they are able to continue their goalscoring spree at White Hart Lane, where they have hit 20 goals in all competitions since the turn of the year. Tuesday night was the first time in the last eight Premiership games that neither Robbie Keane nor Jermain Defoe has scored. Spurs have only lost on one occasion when either of those players have scored this season and they will be looking for them to find a way past Newcastle this weekend.
<colgroup><col style="WIDTH: 122pt; mso-width-source: userset; mso-width-alt: 5924" width="162" /><col style="WIDTH: 97pt; mso-width-source: userset; mso-width-alt: 4717" span="2" width="129" /></colgroup>
|Team||Tottenham Hotspur||Newcastle United|
|Ave Goals per game||1.44||1.41|
|Shots (excl blocked shots)||276||281|
|% Shots on Target||44%||43%|
|% Goals to Shots||14%||13%|
|Overall Pass Completion %||72%||73%|
|Ave goals conceded per game||1.59||1.04|
|Tackles Won %||70%||72%|
|Blocks, Clearances & Interceptions||1363||1034|