Opening weekend is here and - besides it's being my birthday – it’s also the start of the Premier League season. If this year comes anywhere close to what we saw last season, we’re in for months and months of excitement.
Tottenham and Newcastle, two top clubs, meet up this Saturday, and the soccer odds couldn’t be much closer. With the game being held up north, the Magpies are
at +161 to get three points while the visiting Spurs can be found at +184. A
draw, always within reason in the Premier League, is listed at +251 by soccer odds makers.
Alan Pardew worked some magic in his first full
season in charge, guiding the Magpies to a fifth place finish in 2011/12.
One could argue that Newcastle benefitted from down
years for Chelsea and Liverpool, but finishing in the top five regardless was
quite the accomplishment for the new boss.
Pardew could thank his two prolific strikers, Demba
Ba and Papiss Cisse, for providing the goals. Ba, despite missing some time
with injuries, had 16 goals in 2011/12, while Cisse was even more efficient,
netting 13 times in 14 league appearances. Who can forget Cisse’s goal of the
season against Chelsea?
Others like Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa and Jonas
Gutierrez were hugely important to the cause, and defenders Danny Simpson and
Fabricio Coloccini were mainstays in the starting XI.
Newcastle wasn’t very active in the transfer market,
with Pardew hoping the success from last season could carry over and perhaps even
be improved upon.
A stroke of bad luck saw Spurs miss out on a
Champions League spot despite them finishing in fourth place last season. They
can thank Chelsea for that, who scooped up the last European place by winning
There’s been a change of manager at White Hart Lane,
with Harry Redknapp moving on and Andre Villas-Boas getting the nod as new
caretaker. We can’t wait to see what AVB can do with his second chance.
The big captures of the summer have been defender
Jan Vertonghen and attacking threat Gylfi Sigurdsson, who spurned Liverpool to
join up with the London-based club.
Otherwise, Spurs has tons of returning quality at
their disposal, especially in midfield where they’ve got Gareth Bale, Scott
Parker, Rafael Van der Vaart, Aaron Lennon, Tom Huddlestone, and Sandro. Don’t
forget about Luka Modric either, who despite constant transfer speculation is still
with the club.
Tottenham is still trying to bring Emmanuel Adebayor
aboard on a full-time basis, while there have been talks over a deal for French
midfielder Yann M’Vila as well.
While there’s no lack of talent over in the Spurs
camp, there’s a good possibility it’ll take time for them to adjust to AVB’s
preferred style, meaning a sluggish start could be in the cards.
Newcastle was excellent at home last season, losing
only three of 21 matches with a plus-12 goal differential. As for Tottenham,
they leaked goals in away games (24 allowed), and I still have questions over
how good that defensive line is.
There’s a reason Spurs went out and got Vertonghen
and are now targeting a defensive-minded midfielder in M’Vila. AVB is obviously
a little worried about how his defense will cope.
With that said, I’m backing the Magpies to get off
to a flying start in front of a rowdy crowd of 52,000+. They have strikers in
Ba and Cisse that can punish defensive frailties.
Newcastle 2 Tottenham 1