Both sides lined up in their natural 4-4-1-1 systems. The Newcastle wingers had the intention of running at the opposing full-backs though they rarey did as most of the 1st half was palyed in the middle of the park. Alan Smith looked to get up the pitch while primarily being defensive with Barton moving around the final third attempting to get involved in play. Tiote looked to get involved committing himself to tackles and keeping an eye on Van der Vaart.
Van der Vaart attempted to play his usual role getting involved in build-up play and making late runs into the box. Modric was the playmaker and he showed good composure all through the first half producing the best passes (though few) even under pressure. Palacios played similar to Tiote though was less watchful of Barton than Tiote was of Van der Vaart as he did most of Spurs pressing inside his own half.
Newcastle as expected were direct looking to hit high balls up the pitch for Carroll to battle with the Spurs centre backs. Newcastle also pressed from the front with their 4 most advanced players involved in active pressing of the Spurs back-line. Spurs therefore responded by hitting the ball up the pitch which contributed to the general poor display the first half was. Modric though has to be given credit for producing delightful balls even under pressure as he dropped deep to help the defence. Spurs initially looked to utilize the right hand of their attack and this intention was easily visible with the number of cross-field passes Assou-Ekotto hit towards Lennon. This though failed to produce much as the technical display was poor by both sides. Tiote keeping eye on Van der Vaart helped deny Spurs the chance to dominate possession as Modric dropped deep to help his pressured defence and Palacios was very poor in possession so Spurs couldn’t build or dominate posession as they would have liked. Palacios also did a lot of the pressing for Spurs so Barton was usually free but Newcastle failed to bring him into the game while the presence of Alan Smith (a tenacious player) in midfield alongside Tiote meant Tiote was able to keep track of Van der Vaart better. It came down to the one-on-one challenges towards the end of the first half and both sides had a number of chances when Tiote and Carroll both robbed Palacios of the ball and when Van der Vaart won an aerial challenge with Tiote but the technical quality on display still let the players down. At the end of the first half, Spurs showed a tendency to be have improved technically and a couple of crosses from overlapping full-backs were almost converted into goals.
Redknapp made a key decision which had a great impact on the game at half time. Palacios, sloppy in possession was removed for Jenas who was more reasonably assured in possession. This way Jenas who occupied Palacios position helped Spurs retain possession better. Modric therefore played in a more advanced role and Spurs began to dominate. Pavlyuchenko who had been anonymous also got more involved in the aerial challenges. During this period of possession, Kaboul made a forward run and this was probably due to the confidence gained by the domination. Kaboul forward clearly was not in Newcastle’s plans and his run was not picked by any of the opposing players. Kaboul released a ball to Lennon who one-on-one with Perch, took full advantage of the fact that Perch was not able to get close and was defending on his weaker foot playing at left back, scored a goal with a shot from a tight angle. It appears a reasonably good way of scoring goals when dominating possession is adding the unexpected into the opposition’s plans (Pique’s goal against Inter Milan last season).
After this goal, Newcastle responded by looking to make their wingers more mobile in an effort to be fluid and to provide more passing angles but the lack of creative ball-playing midfielders in the Newcastle side meant Newcastle could hardly take advantage of this.
A RED CARD AGAIN!!!!Tiote who had been involved in many scraps and had picked up a card for his effort. He rode a fine line throughout his time on the pitch. He got involved with Kaboul who tried to spring a counter with a forward run down the left. Kaboul’s actions got Kaboul sent off and Spurs had to reshape. Redknapp pulled Pavlyuchenko off for Bassong while Newcastle changed to a 4-4-2 as shown above removing Jonas for Nile Ranger with both Newcastle midfielders looking to make forward runs. Spurs responded by defending deep looking to spring both their wingers if the chance for a counter came. Modric generally played ahead of Jenas but both players looked to make forward runs on the break with the other player holding temporarily. Newcastle still tried to be fluid upfront but the lack of a creative midfielder still caused them trouble. Barton joined Smith in the middle and Newcastle continued to probe to little effect. Newcastle lost the ball on the edge of the Spurs box and Modric made a forward run releasing Gareth Bale on the left. Bale caught his marker one-on-one and had no trouble finishing from a tight angle. It appears Redknapp’s decision to use his wingers and Newcastle’s inability to effectively double up on them on the break proved costly for Newcastle.
SPURS WIN AGAIN
After the second goal, it was clear Newcastle had no extra creative ideas while Spurs responded the same way. Newcastle reverted to aerial balls which seemed quite reasonable considering Spurs were defending very deep and they had Andy Carroll in their side. This though was unsuccessful as the Spurs defence kept up with Carroll while Gomes’ actions only served to make Newcastle’s aerial threat from corners appear more dangerous than they were in reality. Spurs had effectively killed off the game.
– Van der Vaart said that Redknapp hardly ever uses the tactics board in their dressing room but the team appear comfortable playing with ten men. This is their second win with ten men in two days.
– Sir Alex Ferguson always makes sure Park protects Evra whenever Lennon’s around when Spurs play Manchester United and the Gareth Bale goals in the Champions League against Inter show it’s very reasonable to double up on both Spurs wingers at all times. The decision to release both Newcastle midfielders to make forward runs together proved costly for Alan Pardew’s side on the night
– How bad is Sandro? He was a key part of the Internacional side that won the Copa Libertadores so he surely can’t be worse than Palacios. Jenas didn’t appear as out of sorts either during his time on the pitch. Had Newcastle been more decisive, Spurs could have lost the game in the first half after both Tiote and Carroll successfully dispossessed Palacios of the ball in his own half.