Tottenham Hotspur-Newcastle United Preview
The spectre of their last meeting with Newcastle United will hang over Tottenham Hotspur at St. James' Park on Sunday.
May 2016 saw Spurs travel to Tyneside on the final day of the season after a campaign that had seen them narrowly miss out on the title to Leicester City. The prospect of a second-place finish and a league berth above fierce rivals Arsenal for the first time in over two decades was on the table. But already-relegated Newcastle won 5-1, ending an otherwise impressive season on a sour note.
"Even if it belongs in the past, the last time we played at Newcastle is not a good memory," Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris. "It's part of the past and we are looking forward. Our minds will be ready to compete from the first second of this game.
"I can remember how gutted we felt after this game. We felt so responsible for this defeat. It belongs to the past, maybe it belongs to the whole process to get to this level. If it can help us on Sunday, why not? But I don't think we need this as motivation."
Spurs responded to the result at Newcastle with the best campaign in the club's modern history, racking up a huge 86-point tally to trail only runaway leaders Chelsea in last season's league table. With all except right-back Kyle Walker remaining from that squad, Spurs should be considered one of the favourites for the title this season, and Lloris is looking forward to getting started.
"It's an exciting time," he said. "It's important to carry on with the same intensity, the same philosophy and continuity of last season. The way we finished the season was fantastic and we will try to start the season with the same energy."
However, a lack of transfer activity, coupled with a temporary move to Wembley Stadium, has seen Spurs slip largely out of the conversation regarding likely Premier League winners this season.
Walker's absence impacts both in terms of personnel and formation - with the departed wing-back more adept at playing in a 3-5-2 than any other right sided defender at the club. An interview by left-back Danny Rose, hinting that he would also be open to a move elsewhere, has only added to the feeling of unrest in Mauricio Pochettino's squad going into the campaign.
Similar problems are occurring at Newcastle, where manager Rafa Benitez is bemoaning a lack of transfer spend after helping the club bounce straight back into the Premier League.
"I am not happy but at the same time for me it's a challenge," Benitez said of Newcastle's lack of signings thus summer. "I do try my best. It is very hard, the prices are crazy. We missed some targets at the beginning and we're paying for that. Hopefully we can find solutions and bring in what we need."
A paucity of new faces may be an issue, but fitness shouldn't be for Newcastle, who only have doubts over Dwight Gayle and former Spurs player DeAndre Yedlin going into the opening weekend.
Spurs, in contrast, have a number of important players out with Kieran Trippier, Son Heung-Min, Erik Lamela and Rose out and Victor Wanyama unlikely to feature with a knee injury.
The Magpies have enjoyed plenty of success over Spurs in recent years winning four of the other seven most recent Premier League meetings between the two clubs.
Updated August 10, 2017