THE PREMIER LEAGUE is back and Saturday's early televised fixture pits Newcastle and Tottenham together at St James' Park. Ryan Wilson (@ryanjameswillo) brings you his best bets.
Newcastle v Tottenham | Saturday 11th August 2018, 12:30 | Sky Sports
Tottenham open their 2018/19 Premier League campaign identically to the season previous, travelling north to face Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle.
The summer transfer window has been shrouded with controversy for Spurs fans as Daniel Levy and Mauricio Pochettino have failed to land a single new player, despite keeping hold of and handing new contracts to stars.
Hosts Newcastle have brought in a cool £45m in sales over the summer, reinvesting around £25m of that into their first-team squad. Goals were the Geordies’ biggest problem last term and Yoshinori Muto and Salomon Rondon have arrived in a bid to fix the issue, while Kenedy returns on loan after a fruitful spell on Tyneside last season.
Spurs triumphed on both occasions last season, beginning with a 2-0 win at St James’s Park on the opening Sunday. Crucially, Pochettino could be without a large chunk of his best players for this Saturday’s early kick-off.
Spurs missing key personnel?
The aftermath of the World Cup will affect many teams, but none more so than Spurs.
With Harry Winks, Erik Lamela and Victor Wanyama all sidelined with injuries, the travellers could also be without Hugo Lloris, Kieran Trippier, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele, Dele Alli and Harry Kane pending late fitness tests.
Kane and Alli looked dead on their feet as England exited the World Cup semi-final in Russia and I can’t see them putting in a great shift if they are deemed fit enough.
In contrast, Newcastle will only be without centre-back Florian Lejeune.
The betting angle
Given the away side could be without players who scored 39/74 (52%) of their league goals, I’m anticipating a slow, disjointed start to the campaign from them. While a few could make the starting line-up, there’s no certainty that they will be at full fitness and the fluidity that we so often associated with Spurs last term may not be there.
Newcastle ended pre-season with just one win and four goals across five matches, while Spurs were humbled in a 4-1 loss at Girona in their last game. Of their 19 road trips, Spurs saw Under 2.5 Goals in nine matches (47%) including the 2-0 win on Tyneside.
Benitez guided United to 10th place largely down to a strong home record, although 12 of their 19 home outings (63%) saw Under 2.5 Goals. Extended to include away games, the Toon saw Under 2.5 Goals in 22/38 contests (58%) and I see value in backing that selection here.
I’m anticipating a typical pragmatic, organised approach from Benitez in a bid to cause an upset and think 3/1 (Betfred) is a reasonable price depending on the starting elevens; keep that in mind as kick-off approaches. Spurs will likely still have threats in Christian Eriksen and Heung-min Son, but may struggle to create.
However, whichever way it goes, I can’t see many goals occurring here and like the 9/10 (Marathon) on Under 2.5 Goals.
Newcastle v Tottenham – Under 2.5 Goals (9/10 Marathon)