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Newcastle-Spurs talking points

13 August 2017 National Sport

Nick Wright

Comment and Analysis

Last Updated: 13/08/17 4:43pm

Newcastle 0-2 Tottenham

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Tottenham claimed a thanks to second-half goals from Dele Alli and Ben Davies at St James’ Park. From Jonjo Shelvey’s sending off to Kyle Walker-Peters’ impressive debut, here are five talking points from the game.

Shelvey’s moment of madness

The second half was barely three minutes old when Shelvey trod on Alli’s ankle following an innocuous coming together in the middle of the pitch. Referee Andre Marriner, standing just a few yards away, did not hesitate to brandish the red card. “Is that the most stupid red card you’ve ever seen in your life?” asked Alan Smith in the commentary box.

It was the latest in a long line of controversies involving Shelvey and it raises serious questions about Rafael Benitez’s decision to hand him the captain’s armband. The hosts had largely nullified Spurs up until that point, but in the end they were fortunate that the margin of defeat wasn’t greater.

“He’s gone from captain to clown in the space of 10 seconds,” said pundit Graeme Souness. “Newcastle were well in the game but he’s done that right under the referee’s nose, and the referee is left with no alternative but to send him off.”

Rafa Benitez gives his reaction to Newcastle’s 2-0 defeat to Tottenham

Walker-Peters impresses

Much has been made of Tottenham’s inactivity in the transfer market but Kyle Walker-Peters repaid Mauricio Pochettino’s faith in youth with a man-of-the-match performance on his senior debut. The 20-year-old was thrown in at right-back in the absence of Kieran Trippier and acquitted himself well at both ends of the pitch.

Walker-Peters, who is no relation to the departed Kyle Walker, held his own as Newcastle targeted him in the early stages and showed confidence to carry the ball forward at every opportunity. He was fortunate to see the linesman flag for offside after he bundled Dwight Gayle to the floor in the box in the first half, but that was the only hint of inexperience in an accomplished display.

He showed impressive energy throughout, with Premier League tracking data showing he made more sprints (59) than any other player on the pitch. He also made more tackles than any of his team-mates (three) and registered a 91 per cent passing accuracy. “He’s seen plenty of the ball, he’s enjoyed his afternoon and he’s done himself proud out there,” said Smith.

Eriksen holds the key

As impressive as Walker-Peters was, the man-of-the-match award could just as easily have gone to Christian Eriksen. The Dane was Tottenham’s most dangerous attacking player throughout. He went close to breaking the deadlock twice in the first half, and created both goals after the break.

Christian Eriksen created both of Tottenham's goals

Christian Eriksen created both of Tottenham's goals

Christian Eriksen created both of Tottenham’s goals

His chipped delivery for Alli’s opener was perfectly measured, and he made a well-timed run to set up Davies for Tottenham’s second. His eye-catching display was a continuation of last season. The 25-year-old has now assisted five goals in his last three appearances and becomes the first Spurs player to assist twice in consecutive Premier League games since Rafael van der Vaart in 2010.

Sissoko struggles again

Moussa Sissoko’s future has been the subject of speculation all summer after a disappointing debut season at Spurs, and there were few signs of a return to form at St James’ Park. The Frenchman, whose every touch was booed by Newcastle fans, struggled to make an impact before making way for Heung-Min Son in the 58th minute.

Tottenham’s small squad means they can ill-afford to let any more players go, but it remains to be seen how many more indifferent displays Pochettino will be willing to tolerate. With Turkish side Trabzonspor eager to sign him, a Spurs departure might yet make sense for all parties.

Transfer work to do

Both sides now head into the final weeks of the transfer window knowing they have work to do. Walker-Peters’ performance was an undoubted boost for Pochettino, but full-back is one of many areas where squad depth could become an issue as Spurs, who are yet to sign a single player this summer, battle on domestic and European fronts.

Ayoze Perez and Kyle Walker-Peters challenge for the ball

Ayoze Perez and Kyle Walker-Peters challenge for the ball

Ayoze Perez and Kyle Walker-Peters challenge for the ball

Newcastle have already made seven new signings but their needs are just as pressing. Benitez admitted he is far from happy with their summer business in the build-up to the game, and with Shelvey now facing a three-game suspension and injury concerns over defenders Paul Dummett and Florian Lejeune, bolstering the squad further becomes even more important.

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