Newcastle v Tottenham
Saturday, August 18, 5.30pm (ESPN), the Artist Formerly Known as St. James Park
How many football fans thought at the start of last season that Tottenham Hotspur would not only have to fight for a top four finish with the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal, but Newcastle United too?
It was a shock for many – even those die-hard Geordie support groups were pinching themselves to make sure they weren’t dreaming about their club’s sudden success.
Well, we’re not fans of seeing an eventful and entertaining scrap draw coming to an end, so it’s time for round two of Newcastle v Tottenham to open up the 2012/13 season.
Fresh from winning the 2011/12 Premier League Manager of the Year award, Alan Pardew has once again turned to potential unknown gems in the shape of Romain Amalfitano, Gael Bigirimana and Curtis Good.
But Newcastle have fitness concerns over key players Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa. Fabricio Coloccini should play despite a knock but Sylvain Marveaux and Steven Taylor are back to fitness.
Meanwhile, Spurs fans are adjusting to life without Harry Redknapp, after he was sacked and replaced by Andre Villas-Boas following the club’s slump in form last term.
AVB has been quick to make his mark at White Hart Lane mind, bringing in Ajax ace Jan Vertonghen and Hoffenheim (via Swansea) highly-rated midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, while showing the likes of Niko Kranjcar, Vedran Corluka and Steven Pienaar the exit door. Scott Parker and Heurelho Gomes are both ruled out.
It should make for an exciting Saturday evening showdown on Tyneside, with fans able to get 6/4 for a Newcastle win, 9/5 for Spurs to put the Geordies in their place and 23/10 for the game to end on level terms.