Floundering Newcastle must improve to beat Spurs

Posted by Marc Duffy

Mike Hewitt/Getty ImagesAlan Pardew hopes his Newcastle side can snap their goalless skid on home turf when the face Spurs on Wednesday.

Newcastle host Tottenham on Wednesday night hoping to pull themselves out of a recent slump in form that has seen them win only one of their past eight games, however, they literally couldn't have asked for a more difficult fixture on their own patch.

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It might surprise you to learn (it did me) that Spurs are actually top of the league in terms of away points gained this season before the full midweek Premier League programme kicks off -- they've collected a superb 26 points from their 12 games, winning eight.

If you look at the home results league table, Newcastle are down in 12th with only 18 points from 12 games, having already lost four at St James' Park not including their FA Cup exit to Cardiff. Because of this, the bookmakers have Spurs at around 11/8 favourites to win the game.

Results wise, Spurs look to be back on track since Tim Sherwood replaced Andre Villas-Boas as manager early in the season. Results have generally been good for Tottenham, although regular Spurs-watchers I know are yet to be convinced by how the team has performed under Sherwood's leadership. There is a feeling among some that they've carried a little bit of good fortune.

Newcastle were the side who carried the good fortune the last time that these two met. They left White Hart Lane with all three points back in November thanks to a Loic Remy goal and a truly heroic display from goalkeeper Tim Krul who broke a Premier League record for number of saves in a game.

Newcastle will need that luck to shine upon them once again on Wednesday. They go into the game without their captain, Fabricio Coloccini, vice-captain Cheick Tiote, the suspended Remy and at time of writing, there are doubts over Matthieu Debuchy, Yoan Gouffran, Papiss Cisse and Krul, the latter suffering a turned ankle in Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Chelsea.

For the second season running, Newcastle are going through a spell with more injuries than any other side in the Premier League. Last season Alan Pardew put this down to Europa League involvement, but with Newcastle cup ties being thin on the ground this season, he will have to reconsider that. The frequency with which multiple players have been injured under his tenure suggests a fundamental conditioning issue rather than the bad luck with which he usually dismisses it.

Spurs have three players unavailable with Vlad Chiriches, Sandro and Erik Lamela all out injured.

A win for Newcastle is far from impossible. Spurs haven't managed a league win on Tyneside since 2004-05 and Newcastle have won seven of the last ten.

A strong start from Newcastle is vital if they are to achieve this. The fans are growing tired of a club which is often more entertaining off the field for neutrals than they are on it. 280 minutes of football have passed on the hallowed Gallowgate turf since Newcastle managed to score there. The last one was a Cisse penalty vs Stoke on Boxing Day.

If Newcastle can start strong and grab an early goal, they will instantly have 50,000 people back on side and Spurs will find it tough.

The game is Pardew's 150th as Newcastle manager and his reign continues to polarise opinions among the supporters. There is an ever-shrinking band of loyal Pardew fans and a growing number of people who would like to see the back of him. The majority sit somewhere in between, not quite sure what to think after so many great runs but so many abysmal runs like this one.

In the build up to the game, Pardew said: "We've got 13 games to go and once we get Spurs out of the way, I think we have a strong side and we will finish strong I hope."

It doesn't sound like he's too optimistic and this comment annoyed some supporters as did his claim that "I was very, very pleased with the reaction after Sunderland" in reference to Newcastle's loss at Stamford Bridge.

Let's hope his side approach the game more positively!

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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