Newcastle United’s new era begins on the pitch at St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon, as the Magpies welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Tyneside in the Premier League.
The hosts lost 2-1 to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the final game of the Mike Ashley era, while Spurs claimed a confidence-boosting 2-1 win over Aston Villa.
After 14 years of fan frustration, constant exit calls and a gloomy mood at St James’ Park, Ashley’s controversial reign at Newcastle United has come to an end, with the Saudi-backed £300m takeover going through during the recent international break.
Unsurprisingly, the Magpies are already being linked with a host of big names – from Philippe Coutinho to Kalidou Koulibaly – but the future of the man in the dugout will be the first difficult decision that the club’s new owners have to make.
While there is a general expectation that Steve Bruce’s time at St James’ Park is limited, the 60-year-old is set to remain at the helm for Saturday’s clash – his 1,000th game as a manager – and he will hope to oversee his fired-up side produce their performance of the season in front of a jubilant set of supporters.
Results just have not been coming for Newcastle so far this term, as a pair of Hwang Hee-chan strikes either side of Jeff Hendrick’s effort saw Wolves beat the Magpies 2-1 on October 2, and they sit 19th in the table as one of four sides yet to claim a win in the 2021-22 campaign.
Newcastle suffering relegation after becoming one of the richest clubs in the world would be some story indeed, and fans will not be expecting a change in fortunes overnight, especially with the Magpies winning just three of their last 16 Premier League games on home soil.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s record in London derbies is already looking bleak following three successive defeats to Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Arsenal last month, but the Lilywhites managed to claim a crucial win over Aston Villa just before the international break.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg put Spurs 1-0 up before half time before Ollie Watkins levelled proceedings midway through the second period, but Matt Targett’s own goal four minutes after his teammate’s leveller saw Santo’s rut in the Premier League come to a welcome end.
A comprehensive 5-1 thrashing of NS Mura in the Europa Conference League – during which Harry Kane bagged a hat-trick – also helped to boost morale within the North Londoners ranks, and a record of three wins from their last four in all tournaments is a positive streak for Spurs on the face of it.
However, the Lilywhites can only boast a dismal five wins from their last 18 Premier League games away from home – conceding at least twice in six of their last seven on the road – and nothing can be taken for granted against a Newcastle side buoyed by the support of a raucous St James’ Park crowd.
Both games between Newcastle and Tottenham last season finished level, but the Lilywhites have come up trumps in five of their last seven clashes at St James’ Park and have not failed to score on the Magpies’ turf in any competition since 2005.
Newcastle United Premier League form:
Newcastle United form (all competitions):
Tottenham Hotspur Premier League form:
Tottenham Hotspur form (all competitions):
We say: Newcastle United 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur
The return of the Wilson-Saint Maximin partnership versus Spurs’ defensive shortages is an exciting prospect for the home crowd, and Bruce’s players will certainly be fired up from the first minute as they aim to appease the fans and the manager during his 1,000th game.
Spurs have enjoyed a string of successes at St James’ Park in recent years, but their issues are still very much alive despite that much-needed win over Villa, and we have confidence in an inspired Magpies outfit to claim a point on home soil.