New season and new hope. So a defeat at Newcastle crashing everything back down to earth was always on the cards, right?
I fancied us to get a point but it’s "the Tottenham way" I guess you can say – but in truth I’m not too down about Saturday’s defeat.
The day begun with an early train up to Newcastle from Kings Cross. Upon arrival the North East Spurs boys were in full force and rocking the Union Rooms pub in decent voice with Spurs song after song.
Every season the long 14 flights of stairs climb from the stadium entrance to your seats gets worse!
So to the game... A couple of early Gylfi Sigurdsson corners which were planted right on the penalty spot showed signs of what’s to come from the Icelandic international – I’m confident in saying we’ll be more of a threat this season from set pieces with his delivery.
Jonas Gutierrez went down very easily twice in the opening 10 minutes inside our half, got the impression this was a clear tactic – test us from set plays early on. It gave Yohan Cabaye the chance to weave his magic, but both free-kicks were dealt with.
First 15 minutes, I was pretty happy. There was a decent shape and the way we pressed and closed Newcastle down was pleasing to see.
The only cause for concern I had was the two centre halves playing very wide of each other when in possession of the ball – Livermore or Sandro could have done a little more in terms of protecting the gaping hole that was often on show. A small error would of lead to a clear run on goal. Luckily during the second half this “gap” was often filled by one of our centre midfielders. Potential flaw to keep an eye on though.
Sandro & Livermore’s bookings come back to back and then gave Newcastle a spell of 5-10 minutes of more time on the ball where the two midfielders clearly eased off momentarily.
On the subject of yellow cards, on another day Newcastle’s Danny Simpson could easily have been sent off. Already in the book he made two further challenges that were worthy of a second yellow.
Tim Krul tipped a Sig free kick wide of the post as we approached the half hour mark.
His opposing keeper Brad Friedel’s kicking during the first half was average at best – numerous unsuccessful kicks went astray something that hopefully Tony Parks picks up on.
A pretty one sided 15 minutes followed - Defoe’s first sniff resulted in him striking the post, a shimmy and early shot beat Krul which narrowly missed one or two of our players on the rebound. Close but no cigar.
Tiote should have been booked for a foul on the impressive Sandro and a minute later we struck the woodwork once more.
A switch from left to right gave Aaron Lennon an opportunity to venture forward. A nice floated cross sat up for Gareth Bale – whose header was a yard short of finding the underside of the crossbar.
At the break you start to think about the two chances were carved up and worry despite being the better team… Well I do anyway – I guess that’s normal being a Spurs fan.
In the run up to the opener we got into two decent positions, I'm sure AVB will be disappointed we couldn't take advantage.
First, Lennon done well down the right cutting inside – no one around to get on the end of the cross and secondly Gareth Bale who committed a few players before just overrunning the ball as support arrived.
Kyle Walker’s tame header for the first and slow reactions from the skipper William Gallas resulted in Ba having the time and space to curl past Brad.
Walker will see better days in a Spurs shirt for sure – he’s young and still learning, especially in the defensive aspect of his game which needs to improve.
Benny had an effort from distance palmed away on the hour mark just after Pardew was sent to the stands.
In general I thought BAE’s passing was quite poor – there was numerous times he lost possession which on the play back I picked up on.
Walker’s best moment of the game came when he was involved in the build up which lead to Defoe’s first real chance to get in behind the back four – a sharp shot bought a smart save from Krul which kept the score at 1-0.
The equaliser came from a nice ball from Bale to Lennon who put in a teasing cross causing havoc in the Toon 6 yard box, Defoe being the fox in the box like he is getting on the end of Krul’s attempted block.
JD done well leading the line considering the lack of service on offer.
The winner was off the back of slow reactions from a short corner which resulted in the penalty.
Originally I thought Lennon was to blame and having seen it once back on a replay I’m giving Rafa as much of the blame. I’m still not overly sure who Martin Atkinson gave the penalty against, but with Lennon all over Ben Arfa and Rafa’s trip – you can’t really get worked up over either.
Hatem Ben Arfa who won and scored the penalty was “ruled out” of the game by Alan Pardew last week! As hinted in my pre match preview, Pards has a history of playing these types of mind games and I wasn’t surprised to see him start.
A quick well done to Harry Kane for his Premier League debut albeit in a cameo role at the death.
In summary there’s no doubt we should have got a point out of the game. Individual errors are to blame.
Still, there were positives to take from the opening day defeat.
Sandro picking up from where he left off during last seasons run in, very dominant.
The way the midfield lined up and general pressing stopped Newcastle from creating too many clear cut chances.
One game in but clear to see a clear style and well planned system is being implemented by the management team – give it time and with a few quality additions before the close of the window things will continue to fall into place.
Closing, it was nice to see AVB's passion when JD scored - really want him to do well here, keep the faith.
Newcastle (4-4-2): Krul; Simpson, S Taylor, Perch, Santon; Ben Arfa, Cabaye (Anita, 71), Tiote, Gutierrez; Ba (Obertan, 85), Cisse. Unused subs: Harper, Williamson, Gosling, R Taylor, Amilfitano.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Livermore, Sandro (Kane, 85); Lennon, Sigurdsson (van der Vaart, 69), Bale; Defoe. Unused subs: Cudicini, Naughton, Vertonghen, Jenas, Townsend.
Goals: Newcastle - Ba (55); Ben Arfa (pen, 80); Spurs - Defoe (76).
Referee: Mr M Atkinson.