Newcastle United began the new season with a 2-1 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur in what was a lively encounter at St James’ Park.
The visitors took the lead on eight minutes when Jan Vertonghen’s header passed the goal line by a mere 9mm, following a set-piece. United then responded well and were level three minutes later, as Spurs’ poor defending allowed Magpies striker Joselu to glance in Matt Ritchie’s right-wing cross.
United themselves were then victim of deficient tracking as Dele Alli headed home unmarked, which proved to be the winner.
This was the second occasion in a row that Spurs had started the season with a victory at St James’ Park, although the Magpies made it more difficult for them this time around.
Although no fresh incomings started for the Magpies, the permanent arrival of Martin Dubravka and the loan signing of Kenedy are undoubtedly significant additions. Dubravka pulled off a fine stop to deny former Magpie Moussa Sissoko, while his leadership skills and communication have boosted United’s defensive organisation since his arrival in January.
When comparing the two Newcastle XIs, it is manifest that the squad who started this season is much stronger than last season’s, which can only be a positive. The current squad have gelled well and seem determined to fight for the badge under Rafa Benitez’s guidance.
Unlike last season’s opening game, the players’ heads did not drop when they fell behind, with this mentality being key to another successful season.
United did have their chances in the game, Mo Diame and new number nine Salomon Rondon were both denied by the woodwork, while Kenedy spurned a great opening after a poor first touch.
This is a similar scenario to last season where Newcastle struggled to convert their attempts; although they do seem well-equipped to score more this season, with Rondon and Yoshinori Muto adding to their attacking options.
Positives were shown during the match, while the Geordie faithful did at least have something to cheer about. Optimism remains on the pitch due to a united group of players coupled with supporters fully behind them amidst off-the-field controversies.
Newcastle next face a long trip to newly-promoted Cardiff City, with the first three points of the season hopefully pending.
Written by Dawud Arshad
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