So much at stake for Tottenham’s ambitions as rejuvenated Newcastle come to capital


Today’s glitzy World Cup draw in Qatar has made questions about sports washing front and center again this week.

In this context, it is still surreal to look back on the last meeting between Tottenham and Newcastle, who face each other on Sunday in north London.

There have been few better visual representations of sportswashing in our game than 50,000 Newcastle fans, some donning tea towels over their heads, turning in unison to welcome the club’s new Saudi owners to St James’ Park ahead of the Spurs visit in October.

Newcastle began their new era with a performance that belonged very much to the old, losing 3-2 to Nuno Espirito Santo’s Spurs in a game that said more about the shortcomings of Steve Bruce’s side than the quality of visitors.

Almost six months later, the two clubs are in very different form. Spurs are truly becoming an impressive side under Antonio Conte and are preparing for a run-in that should see them in direct competition with rivals Arsenal for fourth place.

The international break has come at a bad time for Conte’s side and after finally picking up back-to-back wins over Brighton and West Ham, Spurs must continue where they left.

Spurs’ victory over Tyneside left Newcastle winless in their first eight games and stuck in the last three but, backed by their new owners, they steered clear of relegation, thanks in large part to a number of new signings in January and to the good work of Bruce’s successor. , Eddie Howe.

For Spurs, Newcastle’s uprising under their controversial new owners is just another reason why finishing fourth seems so crucial. The race for Champions League football already has the makings of a pivotal moment for Spurs. If Arsenal retain fourth place, their progress under Mikel Arteta should accelerate and have the added benefit of potentially derailing Spurs’ rebuilding under Conte.

In this scenario, there is a danger that Conte could walk away, leaving Spurs facing a second consecutive summer of looking for a manager and an unstable Harry Kane looking for a way out.

Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I

On the other hand, if Spurs overhaul Arsenal, they will relegate Arteta’s side to another season out of the Champions League and be in a better position to convince Conte and Kane that they can get back to the top. In addition to this tense zero-sum game, Newcastle’s wealth is another concern and consideration.

The Toon quickly and emphatically proved the correlation between spending power and bottom line, climbing to the safety of mid-table after spending nearly £120million in January.

Chris Wood, Dan Burn, Kieran Trippier and Bruno Guimaraes are all said to have improved Conte’s squad, suggesting the two clubs should operate in similar markets, and if Newcastle get their spending right this summer they could easily be among the top six challengers . next season.

For Spurs, securing fourth place and backing up Conte’s project can be the difference between staying ahead of not just Arsenal but also Newcastle. But stumble in the run-in, and Spurs could find the Toon as direct rivals next season.

Newcastle are something of a bogey side for Spurs, who haven’t beaten them at home since February 2019, when Trippier lined up for the hosts in a 1-0 win at Wembley. The England winger remains on the sidelines, which will prevent him from showing off Spurs’ less impressive options in his position.

Conte’s optimism that Oliver Skipp could return from injury during the international break proved unfounded, with the midfielder still working individually following his groin injury.

standard Sport

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