On the first weekend of the Premier League season there are certain matches that quicken the pulse. Not necessarily familiar clashes between two of the division’s longstanding juggernauts, but games that fall in line with the invigorating refreshment of a new term.
Newcastle United vs. Tottenham Hotspur is one of those encounters.
The hosts, back in the Premier League after a one-year hiatus, will conjure a stirring atmosphere at St James’ Park on Sunday. Although some will be perturbed about their summer business—manager Rafael Benitez is one—those anxieties will be shelved when the Local Hero theme blurs out in the top flight.
Those supporters and players will be delighted to be back. And it’s always good to have Newcastle around; the amalgamation of passion, ambition, bravado and inevitable breakdown always makes for a fascinating watch in the north east. With Sunderland and Middlesbrough relegated, it’s important to have a top-flight team in the league from that part of the country too.
They’ll feel as though there’s something poignant about playing Spurs on Day 1. In their previous Premier League game, Tottenham fell apart at St James’, losing 5-1 and surrendering second place to Arsenal. That having chased Leicester City for the title all season.
Newcastle will take on a curious Spurs side on Sunday. One that has made progress under Mauricio Pochettino since that meltdown, although not shifted too much in terms of personnel. Much to the disdain of some, Danny Rose included, the north-London outfit have yet to make a single major signing this summer.
With those simmering tensions in mind, this is a crucial one for Tottenham. Lose here and the calls for investment will only grow louder.
Where to watch Newcastle-Spurs on US TV and streaming
There has always been a precarious feeling to Benitez at Newcastle. Even last season, when they were clear at the summit of the Championship table, there was talk of unrest and tension. The Spanish coach, throughout his career, has always felt one dispute away from walking out the door.
Yet they managed to preserve a good thing. Newcastle, after an inconspicuous start, proved themselves as one of the two standout sides in the second tier and although they were only crowned as champions on the final day—perhaps Brighton’s celebrations had something to do with that—few would deny their status as the division’s best side.