A sluggish Tottenham Hotspur needed a moment of madness from Jonjo Shelvey to overcome Newcastle United 2-0 in their Premier League opener at St James’ Park, Newcastle on Sunday.

The former Liverpool midfielder’s stamp on Dele Alli early in the second half proved to be the turning point in the game, for while Spurs had been the better team up to the interval, they lacked a cutting edge against the disciplined hosts.

Newcastle United’s midfielder Jonjo Shelvey reacts after receiving a red card (Photo: AFP)

 

Emboldened by their man advantage, the Lilywhites played with more freedom and against a Magpies side lacking any ambition, always looked like the team that would break the deadlock.

And it was Alli, much to the dismay of the home support, who would break down Newcastle’s defence, finishing well on the hour-mark after Christian Eriksen’s chipped pass had found him inside the box.
Tottenham Hotspur’s midfielder Dele Alli (L) celebrates scoring the opening goal with teammate Heung-min Son (Photo: AFP)

And with 20 minutes left on the clock, left-back Ben Davies made sure of the three points, calmly finishing past Rob Elliot with Eriksen notching another assist.

Harry Kane, in search of his 100th Spurs goal, was denied by Elliot in the first half from point-blank range and in the closing stages of the second half by the woodwork. The reigning Premier League Golden Boot holder, was in search of his first goal in August, but despite having chances on tier side of half-time, was unable to do so and even picked up a yellow card early on for his troubles.

Newcastle, back in the Premier League after a stint in the Championship, were well-disciplined in defence initially but injuries to Paul Dummett and Florian Lejeune didn’t help their cause against Spurs and Benitez will have to reshuffle his defence in the coming weeks.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino had predicted a tough encounter at St James’ Park but will know his side were sub-par and there will be massive scope for improvement in training.


A crunch tie against defending champions Chelsea on Sunday looms large, and the Argentine tactician will seek an improved performance from his wards against the Blues. There were plenty of positives from the display, however, not least being a brave performance from Kyle Walker-Peters on his league debut. The 20-year-old, deputising for the injured Danny Rose,  gave a good account of himself and was awarded the man-of-the-match award for his display. After seeing Chelsea humbled by Burnley and Liverpool frustrated at Watford, the fact that Spurs managed to overcome a potential banana-skin is a good sign, regardless of the sluggish performance.

 

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez gives instructions from the touch-line (Photo: AFP)

For Benitez, the fact that his side lacked a real threat in attack even before Shelvey’s sending off will worry him and will want his unit to rebound against Huddersfield Town in their next game on Sunday.