Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that Spurs might endure a sluggish start to the season considering that this Premier League campaign follows hard on the heels of the 2018 World Cup. Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld are among the players nowhere to be seen, with Tottenham having to contend with a threadbare squad for their pre-season friendly matches.
Pochettino admits that the situation is far from ideal, with the Argentine powerless to prevent his star men from having a delayed return to the team set-up and he’s adamant that he won’t be risking players that haven’t undergone the right amount of pre-season preparation. Despite concerns, the bookies have listed Spurs’ odds at evens to take home the win in their opener.
Perhaps the absence of key men will lead to fringe players getting an opportunity to shine, with Lucas Moura and Fernando Llorente both playing a prominent role in the July matches and they could be starters at St James’ Park.
Line Up Predictions
Ben Davies and Serge Aurier look likely to line up in the full-back positions, with Newcastle hoping they can take advantage of a team who are likely to be without the marauding Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose. They are 11/4 with Paddy Power to win.
Rafael Benitez didn’t have anywhere near as many of his squad featuring in Russia, with the Spaniard keeping his cards typically close to his chest as the Mike Ashley ownership saga rumbles on. The big problem is that the owner continues to invest just a modest amount until the club is sold on.
It was a fine achievement for the Magpies to land tenth spot in the Premier League last season, with Jamaal Lascelles looking as though he will remain a rock in the Newcastle central defence and we should see Jonjo Shelvey continue his strong form at club level. Many thought both should have been part of England’s World Cup squad.
The transfer activity on Tyneside has been typically quiet, with Ki Sung-yueng arriving from Swansea, while Kenedy has made another loan arrival from Chelsea and shone for periods of last season.
Draw Looks Likely
Benitez is a pragmatic manager who is adored by the Toon Army and he would love to get the season started with an early scalp, although there are issues in attack where Newcastle lack a predator who can cause some damage.
Ayoze Perez, Joselu and Dwight Gayle are all strikers who can blow hot and cold, with Aleksandar Mitrovic sold to Fulham for a fee that could yet be invested in a striker who is able to trouble the scoring charts rather than prove to be hit-and-miss at St James’ Park.
It’s hard to judge an opening game of the season, although Benitez will clearly feel this is a good time to be playing against a Tottenham team who have often been disjointed when fielding a reserve team. Similarly, Pochettino won’t be too dismayed by a point before getting his World Cup stars on the pitch for the second game of the season.
Christian Eriksen is likely to be the star man in midfield, continuing where he left off after some impressive performances at the World Cup, although he can’t win a game singlehandedly and we’re confident enough to recommend placing one of your free bets on honours being even in this Premier League opener.