In a week where Alan Pardew has been linked with managing England, the Newcastle boss takes his side to Tottenham Hotspur as they aim to continue their odds-defying season.
Following Fabio Capello’s resignation from the national set-up on Wednesday evening, Pardew was asked at his mid-week press conference about the possibility of him succeeding the Italian. A suggestion the Magpies boss strongly denied.
Given the remarkable season Newcastle have had thus far it was the news all Geordies wanted to hear, with all the media attention surrounding the national vacancy now solely aimed at the man who will sit opposite Pardew tomorrow.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp is the front-runner for the England manager’s position, a move that could scupper the north Londoner’s chances of making the Champions League. Redknapp is yet to be approached by the FA, but anyone with a football brain will realise it will be a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ he receives the call.
With the top two performing English manager’s meeting at White Hart Lane tomorrow it was a match that already attracted a more than usual dose of attention. Third place Spurs still have faint title dreams, as they sit seven points behind leaders City with 14 games remaining. Newcastle currently occupy fifth spot in the Premier League and are just one point from a Champions League place, a position nobody would have predicted at the start of the season.
Tomorrow’s meeting will be the test for Pardew to see how far his side have actually come. Having already taken a point from Spurs and Arsenal this season, plus four from Manchester United, there is no reason why Newcastle can’t add to the tally they’ve accumulated against the league’s elite.
These two sides boast two of the best central midfield pairings the Premier League has to offer, but unfortunately for Newcastle theirs remains absent. Yohan Cabaye’s untimely suspension and Cheick Tiote’s ACN participation means Pardew will again turn to Danny Guthrie and James Perch to try and combat the threat of Luka Modric and former Magpies captain Scott Parker.
The home side’s attacking threat will be somewhat dented given the absence of injured Rafael van der Vaart, with Louis Saha able to make his home debut against one of his former clubs.
With Senegal striking pair Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba both back from the African Cup of Nations and on target last week, the visitors will feel they have every chance of finding the net at White Hart Lane.
It’s defensively Newcastle need to be careful. Mike Williamson and captain Fabricio Coloccini will be at the heart of the Magpies back-line, and how they deal with the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor will decide which way this one swings.
Spurs have reached the next level under Redknapp this season and it would take a calamitous end to the season for them not to reach the Champions League.
Newcastle on the other hand will be grateful for any European place come the end of the season, as they have continued to surprise everyone in the Premier League.
Spurs will go into tomorrow’s match as favourites, but given Newcastle’s habit of upsetting the odds don’t be surprised to see them escape unscathed from White Hart Lane as they continue their push for European football.