Superb defensive display earns Newcastle unexpected win against Tottenham
Newcastle United travelled to London to take on Tottenham Hotspur on the back of a disastrous 3-1 defeat to Norwich, with concerns growing about Steve Bruce’s tactics that were deployed in the loss at Carrow Road. All eyes were on Bruce to see if he would stick or twist regarding his game plan.
Bruce decided to revert back to the tactics that have served Newcastle so well, since regaining their promotion back to the Premier League. Lining up with a three-man defence of Schar, Lascelles and Dummet, Hayden and Longstaff as the two deep-lying midfielders, Ritchie and Krafth as wing-backs, and Almiron, and, Saint-Maximan supporting record signing, Joelinton who was leading the line.
Newcastle started the game very deep, with a clear emphasis on team shape and organization. It was obvious from kick-off that Bruce’s game plan was to deny Tottenham any space by congesting the middle of the park. Leading from the back were Newcastle defenders Paul Dummet and Jamal Lascelles who were orchestrating a disciplined display from their teammates lining up in front of them.
Lascelles, Schar and Dummet were getting their bodies in the way of what Tottenham were throwing at them by either tackling, blocking or crowding out the attacking players. Dummet deservedly walked away from the game with the Man of the Match award for showing leadership qualities of a man determined not to be on the losing side.
Shots were at a premium as the game trundled into the midway point of the first half, Newcastle’s defensive work was on top. Despite having limited possession and having to absorb constant Tottenham pressure, Newcastle were the first side to have a shot on target as Sean Longstaff raced into the box and had a shot at goal, which Lloris turned over the bar.
That should have served as a warning for Tottenham’s defence. However, Christian Atsu raced towards Tottenham’s goal and threaded a ball through to Joelinton. Newcastle’s record signing took the ball down with aplomb and slotted it past Lloris for his first goal in the Premier League.
After Newcastle scored, they continued to absorb constant Tottenham pressure until the half time whistle. Even though Tottenham had the majority of the ball, they were not carving out any clear cut openings. They failed to have a shot on goal until the 33rd minute of the game, when Son hit a stinging shot that Dubravka palmed away.
The second half began in the same vein as the first with Tottenham having the majority of possession but being shut down and closed out by Newcastle’s superb defensive unit. Tottenham were lacking the creativity to break down Newcastle’s congested half of the pitch. Mauricio Pochettino then turned to Christian Eriksen and Lo Celso in the hope that they could add the creativity that was lacking. Eriksen and Lo Celso couldn’t create instant impact and the game continued in the same pattern.
Tottenham felt that they should have had a 78th-minute penalty when Lascelles and Kane were engaged in a footrace, Lascelles looked to slip and his outstretched arm brushed against Kane. Both players went down, and the decision went to a VAR review. After some deliberation from the VAR referees, the decision was no penalty and Tottenham couldn’t find the creative spark to break down the most robust defence they have faced so far this season.