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3/31/2006 7:34 PM

Prem Preview: Newcastle United-Tottenham Hotspur

A vital trip for Tottenham as they look to secure the rewards for an impressive season by claiming a Champion’s League place at the expense of their bitter local rivals Arsenal. Newcastle, with little direction and little to play for will have to work hard to make life difficult for their high flying opponents.

BACKGROUND

As Newcastle limp towards the finishing line of yet another tumultuous season, they have little left to play for other than pride and the highest possible mid table finish they can achieve. The only obvious source of motivation will be to send off their retiring captain and legendary number nine, Alan Shearer, in the kind of style his remarkable contribution to the club, and the game as a whole, so richly deserves.

With Shearer, an iconic figure whom the club has depended upon for many seasons, departing and Newcastle still without a permanent successor to Graeme Souness installed as manager, the Magpies prepare themselves for a vital period of transition.

One side in the league who can be a model for successfully ushering in a new era and a change of form and fortune to match are Tottenham. Martin Jol has assembled a squad of talented (largely British) youngsters and experienced professionals and moulded them into a surprise contender for a Champion’s League berth come the end of the season.

That they are able to secure that lucrative fourth place finish at the expense of their hated North London rivals Arsenal will give Spurs all the motivation they need to produce the very best of the form they have shown this season in their final few matches.

TEAM FORM

Newcastle

The revival was short-lived under Glenn Roeder and Newcastle are currently on the back of a run of four consecutive defeats including their elimination in the quarter finals of the FA Cup at the hands of Chelsea. However Newcastle have suffered just three league defeats at St James’ Park all season, and their resilience at home has prevented a disappointing season from becoming a disastrous one.

Tottenham

Tottenham’s last two league games has seen them inflict defeats on two of the clubs battling to avoid relegation, West Brom and Birmingham. Tottenham defeated the Magpies 2-0 earlier in the season at White Hart Lane but have recorded just two away victories in the league so far this year.

TEAM NEWS

Newcastle
Influential midfielder Scott Parker is ruled out with glandular fever and full back Celestine Babayaro is out with a thigh injury. Titus Bramble should return to the defence having recovered from a hamstring injury.

Tottenham
Andy Reid returns to the squad having recovered from a knee ligament injury but fellow midfielder Teemu Tainio is doubtful as he has a throat infection. Mido and Jermaine Defoe will be vying for a place up front alongside Robbie Keane, with the Egyptian likely to get the nod.

ONE TO WATCH

Alan Shearer

With only a handful of games left in one of footballs most glorious individual careers, the St James’ Park faithful will treasure every moment their talismanic captain spends on the pitch between now and the end of the season. Newcastle will also continue to look towards Shearer as their main goal threat, as despite his advancing years and the arrival of Michael Owen in the summer he is again on course to finish the campaign as the Magpies leading scorer.

Michael Carrick

The Tottenham man has impressed many people this season with his disciplined and creative performances as spurs defensive midfielder, not least the England management. With one rival for that position with the national side, Scott Parker, seemingly ruled out for the remainder of the season Carrick will still be keen to continue to show the energy, strong tackling and excellent range of passing that has seen him emerge on the fringe of the World Cup squad.

PROBABLE STARTING XI

Newcastle (from):
Given, Ramage, Carr, Elliott, Boumsong, Moore, Solano, Bowyer, Emre, N'Zogbia, Shearer, Ameobi, Dyer, Clark, Faye, Chopra, Harper.

Tottenham (from):
Robinson, Cerny, Stalteri, Kelly, Dawson, Lee, King, Gardner, Jenas, Davids, Carrick, Lennon, Huddlestone, Barnard, Defoe, Mido, Keane, Reid.

PREDICTION

Spurs have it all to play for as they enter the last leg of an impressive season hoping they can show their best form and secure a top four finish. Newcastle are stuttering towards the end of a season to forget and may find it difficult against what has been a largely impressive new look Tottenham side.

Newcastle 1-0 Tottenham

Andrew Boulton

goal.com
 

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3 Final - St James' Park Attendance: 52,301

Newcastle 3 - 1 Tottenham

Lee Bowyer (2)
Shola Ameobi (25)
Alan Shearer (pen 30)
Robbie Keane (19)

1

Preview Match Gamecast Mobile Report

Updated: April 1, 2006, 11:43 AM ET
Newcastle 3-1 Tottenham: Spurs hopes hammeredPA

Tottenham's Champions League hopes were dealt a blow as Newcastle ended a run of four successive defeats in style with a 3-1 win, all the goals coming inside the opening half-hour.

Although they rode their luck after the break, Michael Dawson's 61st-minute dismissal for a second bookable offence effectively ended Spurs' fightback.

MatthewLewis/GettyImages
On the slide: Charles N'Zogbia and Steven Kelly at St James' Park.Lee Bowyer fired the Magpies in front with just a minute and six seconds gone, and although Robbie Keane levelled, Shola Ameobi restored Newcastle's lead after 25 minutes.

Alan Shearer's 30th-minute penalty - his 203rd goal for the club in his 300th Premiership appearance - ultimately sealed the win.

• Roeder happy with players response

The bulk of a crowd of 52,301 went home happy although wondering what might have been after seeing their side dominate a team challenging for the top-four finish Newcastle so crave.

Caretaker boss Glenn Roeder insisted in the run-up to the game that there was still plenty to play for in a season which ended in terms of the big prizes with Newcastle's FA Cup quarter-final exit at Chelsea last week.

With Scott Parker having joined Michael Owen on the sidelines with glandular fever and Kieron Dyer once again missing from the 16, Newcastle could have been forgiven for wishing for a merciful release.

However, Roeder's message had obviously registered with his players as they set about Tottenham with a relish which belied their troubles.

Bowyer, who might have left the club in January but this week pledged his continued allegiance, opened the scoring with his first Premiership goal of the season and his first in any competition since last July.

It came from a flowing move involving Charles N'Zogbia, Shearer and Nolberto Solano which set the tone for a thrilling display.

The first half was not without its scares as a rearguard which included three men - Robbie Elliott, Peter Ramage and Craig Moore - who would not figure in the club's strongest back four was kept on its toes by Keane.

The Irishman headed the visitors back level after 19 minutes, applying the finish after Aaron Lennon had comprehensively beaten former Tottenham full-back Stephen Carr.

Keane then smashed a shot against the crossbar in injury time, but by that point Newcastle had taken the game by the scruff of the neck.

Ameobi's 25th-minute strike restored their lead and there was more to come when Bowyer, who had earlier had appeals for a penalty turned down, was inexplicably shoved to the ground by Edgar Davids after Shearer and Solano had carved Tottenham open once again.

Shearer hammered the penalty past Paul Robinson to give his side a deserved 3-1 lead, and had he not earlier missed from the kind of headed opportunity upon which he has built his career, Roeder's men could have been out of sight.

The home side returned knowing an early goal for Tottenham would change the complexion of the game once again and it needed Moore's intervention to deny Lennon a chance to claim it after he once again slipped past Carr with just a minute gone.

Keane was dropping deeper to pick up possession earlier and run at the home defence, but it was a policy which proved only partially successful.

Michael Carrick's last-ditch tackle denied Solano a fourth goal for the Magpies on 53 minutes, but when Tottenham broke from the resulting corner, they should have been back in the game.

Elliott's attempt to head a long ball away from the danger area succeeded only in directing it into the feet of former team-mate Jenas.

The England international, who left St James' Park for White Hart Lane in a #7million move during the summer, rounded Given easily, but with the goal at his mercy, sliced his left-foot shot into the side-netting, much to the amusement of the home fans.

Keane clipped the outside of the post with a well-struck 59th-minute effort, but his side were dealt a blow two minutes later when Dawson, who had been booked before the break for a foul on Emre, picked up a second yellow card for a tug on Shearer's shirt and was dismissed.

Had it not been for Robinson's agility, Ramage would have wrapped up the points with a 63rd-minute header, and although Keane and substitute Jermain Defoe both wasted good opportunities as time ran down, the hard work had already been done.

Roeder happy with players response

Caretaker Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder revealed he had shown his players his grumpy side this week to inspire their rousing victory over Champions League hopefuls Tottenham.

The former Magpies skipper was angry at their performance at Charlton last Sunday and the suggestion that their season had ended with the FA Cup quarter-final exit brought a withering riposte.

Their response was to rattle three first-half goals past fourth-placed Spurs at St James' Park to end a run of four successive defeats.

'Thirty-eight games - that's when the season ends,' said Roeder. 'That's what I've always believed.

'What a shameful thought, to pack up and go home with seven games to go. I didn't hear players saying that, but I heard people around the place saying `they have got nothing to play for, they won't be motivated'.

'I can't have that. After the result last Sunday against Charlton, they have seen a different Glenn Roeder this week, a Glenn Roeder they probably think has got out of the wrong side of the bed every morning.

'But I got the response I wanted. They have shown they need a kick up the backside sometimes.

'This is a good squad of players, there are decent people in this squad, but even decent people sometimes need a toe in the right direction, and they certainly got it.

'We got the response because I would say that's the best first-half performance while I've been involved; Terry McDermott goes a bit further because he's been involved all season, and he says it's the best 45 minutes all season.

'I'd better keep getting out of the wrong side of the bed!'

Spurs boss Martin Jol was disappointed with his way his side started the game, although happy with the way they responded to the challenge of Newcastle's first-half onslaught.

'We showed many faces today,' he said. 'When you concede a goal like we did in the first minute, it's always difficult.

'We knew we needed a clean sheet to come away with three points, but then we played to our strengths, played it to Aaron Lennon, who beat the full-back easily and got back into it.

'But then we made the second mistake and then the third one with the penalty.

'Before half-time, we could have scored the second one when Robbie Keane hit the bar and if we could have done that, even with 10 men, we could have got a result.

'But it wasn't our day. Jermaine Jenas had a 100% chance to score. They (Newcastle) were nervous even at 3-1, but we couldn't take advantage of that.'

soccernet
 

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A decent result for us, not that it means anything. I just want this season to end so we can appoint the new manager and start rebuilding for next season.
 
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