Game in a sentence
Hatem Ben Arfa’s penalty kick in the 80th minute pushed Newcastle past Tottenham in a sloppy, yet entertaining game to close the first day of a new campaign.
- The final match of the day featured two club’s with major aspirations this season. Newcastle’s core of young and exciting players compares well to just about any other team in the world. Spurs were unlucky to miss out on Champions League play, and bolstered their lineup with the additions of Vertonghen and Sigurdsson.
- In a shocker AVB relegated Vertonghen to the bench, opting for the sketchy duo of Kaboul and Gallas. A quartet of key Newcastle players - Ben Arfa, Cabaye , Cissé and Ba – were in the starting lineup after appearing on the magpies injury report in the days leading up to today’s fixture.
- The match began skittishly. Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s reckless clearance across the mouth of his own box nearly resulted in the games opening goal. Ekotto’s laser landed on the foot of Aaron Lennon who had a streaking Gareth Bale on the left side of the pitch at his disposal. The speedy winger held the ball too long and was eventually ruled offside – somehow – during a goalmouth scramble.
- Via theScore’s Kristian Jack, Spurs fell in love with long ball in the first half:
- Danny Simpson must have had a terrible morning, – insert your preferred cliche – in the 13th minute he drew a yellow card on a challenge that had one outcome: a booking. Simpson was lucky to avoid further punishment with another dangerous tackle minutes later. As someone who has Simpson in their fantasy pool it was a harrowing half.
- Spurs hit the post twice – Defoe and Bale – in the opening 45. Bale was a force throughout. It’s hard to do his speed justice with words but here’s a shot: pretty darn exceptional.
- Demba Ba provided the class this game needed in the 54th minute. Ba calmly collected a deflected pass from Simpson, took two touches and curled the ball into the top right corner, out of the clutches of Brad Friedel. Hard not to have flashbacks to last season’s opening months after watching that beauty from Ba.
- Alan Pardew was sent off for touching/pushing the fourth official after disputed call. Pardew made his way to seats a few rows up from where he was previously standing, put on a headset – Pardew’s inability to put the contraption on was incredibly hilarious- and continued to communicate with his charges on the staff . That’s not really a punishment, is it?
- Fox Soccer showed some rust themselves, at one point indicating Sigurdsson had been taken off for Emmanuel Adebayor – who isn’t on the team. Rafael van der Vaart took the former Swansea man’s place in the 68th minute. Did AVB wait too long in bringing on the Dutchman?
- I guess not. Jermain Defoe equalized for Spurs in the 76th minute. Lennon provided an excellent ball that Defoe met with a header. Tim Krul made the initial save but couldn’t prevent Defoe from banging in the rebound off the post. For weeks Spurs’ need for a striker has been stressed by many, maybe the old man still has some gas left in the tank – I believe they need another striker regardless.
- Four minutes later Newcastle regained the lead after drawing a penalty. The esteemed Gary Neville: “When you leave a gap between two defenders you’re in trouble!” Ben Arfa made it 2-1 with a cool finish.
- To put that penalty into perspective:
Ben Arfa (pen) 2-1. This Premier League season now has more penalties awarded than the entire Euro 2012 tournament.
— Kristian Jack (@KristianJack) August 18, 2012
- Tim Krul was fantastic. The magpies dodgy backline was bailed out time and time again by Krul’s outstanding anticipation.
2. Hatem Ben Arfa
3. Gareth Bale