I didn’t realise this, but they have just told me on The Telly that Mourinho has never won a match at Newcastle. He’s not far off doing it now, even if there has been enough to suggest it’s far from done.
And for some half-time reading, the Fiver is here!
Other half-times: Burnley 0-0 Wolves; Man City 2-0 Bournemouth.
Half-time: Newcastle 0-1 Spurs
Spurs lead through that fine Son finish, and it’s that five-minute spell after the drinks break that has really earned the advantage. Otherwise Newcastle have carried more threat and were unlucky when Gayle hit the post. It’s not been a bad half and Bruce’s side are certainly having a go. Will Spurs cling onto the three points, or even cut loose? Or will they be pegged back? We’ll find out soon enough.
45 min: Saint-Maximin tries to get things going again but overcomplicates in midfield, and Newcastle may be going in behind.
42 min: Gayle hits the post! Shelvey whips in a dream of a ball, flat and fizzing, from the right and Gayle glances it on intelligently after making a good run to the near post. But his header pings off the far upright!
40 min: But they keep the pressure up and Lloris fingertips wide a fizzing 20-yarder from Saint-Maximin, which was probably bound to hit the post. The corner is cleared but Newcastle have found a bit of their earlier zest.
39 min: And another good move from Newcastle sees Ritchie, who maybe snatches at his shot a bit, see an effort deflect off Aurier and past the near post of a relieved Lloris. Newcastle appeal for a handball from the resulting corner as the ball bobbles about but I don’t think there is much doing.
37 min: That’s better from Newcastle, mainly because Saint-Maximin slices through the middle and changes the tempo again, but Moura is working incredibly hard out there and tracks all the way back to snuff out the danger.
35 min: A scrappy spell, but that Spurs goal has very much changed the feel of this and Newcastle have not seriously threatened since. The hosts pick up a booking, too, as Fernandez is late on Lo Celso.
32 min: Shelvey tries to volley a Ritchie cross that comes down out of the sky but, with a defender in close attendance, can’t make the right contact.
31 min: Alderweireld is booked for a bit of a charge on Ritchie. Fair call.
30 min: Son nearly does it again, this time with a swirling and slightly deflected 25-yarder that a full-stretch Dubravka paws out of his top corner!
Goal! Newcastle 0-1 Spurs (Son, 27)
It’s a lovely finish after Moura wins possession back and Lo Celso, sliding in tenaciously, feeds Son inside the left edge of the area. He cuts onto his right foot and drills low, accurately, inside Dubravka’s near post – and it could be a huge goal in their season. More proof, too, of how a drinks break can tip the scales?
27 min: We are back underway, and Schar does well to cut out Aurier’s cross delivered from near the byline, but then …
24 min: A Spurs corner isn’t quite dealt with at first but Newcastle survive. And now we take drinks.
22 min: A sweeping Newcastle move ends with Saint-Maximin making Lloris save to his left with a shot from 22 yards, using the outside of his foot. It was a pretty regulation one though, all told.
20 min: So of course Spurs string a very slick move together as I write that, but Yedlin gets ahead of Davies before he can shoot. Then Shelvey releases Gayle at the other end and for a split second he’s in … but the ball *just* runs past him and the chance is gone.
19 min: Little on offer from Spurs at this point, really. They don’t seem especially inclined to dominate the ball.
16 min: Chance for Shelvey! And he should probably score. Newcastle work it to Ritchie on the left and he bends in a superb right-footed delivery for the onrushing midfielder, who cannons a header over from 10 yards. That was a real opportunity.
15 min: I’d say Newcastle have started the better here, without necessarily looking as if they know what to do when allowed this much of the ball.
14 min: I believe Man City are a goal up against Bournemouth, through David Silva.
12 min: Newcastle knock it around and then Saint-Maximin goes through the gears, giving the move some life by driving through midfield and seeing a shot deflecting off Alderweireld and wide. He is so good to watch; so urgent and positive. Can they make anything of this corner? Nope.
9 min: Shelvey tries an ambitious 35-yard free-kick but Loris saves with ease. At the other end, Lo Celso sees an effort deflected off target. Maybe I’m wrong, because this has been a reasonable start.
7 min: Spurs quite like to counter but Newcastle aren’t necessarily a side that throws men forward in sufficient number to counter upon. We’ve seen that in one thwarted break from the visitors so far. Does that mean stalemate? Maybe not – because Newcastle nearly make me eat my words with a well-constructed attack that leads to Almiron, 15 yards out, flashing in a shot that is deflected just wide. From the corner, Almiron has another go from a low training-ground delivery to an area nearer the penalty spot, but blazes over!
4 min: Newcastle get settled into some decent possession now. They might as well have a nice go at this, the season is done and Spurs are perfectly beatable.
2 min: Lucas Moura makes a tenacious run down the right early on but is yanked down by Bentaleb. Spurs rather rush the free-kick and lose possession.
Peeeeeep! We’re off!
Spurs, in light blue and going from left to right, get us underway after a collective taking of the knee.
“Not an Aurier fan but huge respect to him, RIP Christopher Aurier. Predicting 2-1 to Spurs with Harry Kane double. COYS,” writes Yash Gupta.
The teams are out on the pitch! So we’re really not very far at all from the get-go …
Shaun Wilkinson writes:
“A season or two ago, I wrote you an email during an MBM of Crystal Palace vs Newcastle where I dared to suggest that the job Rafa Benitez was doing at Newcastle was a tad overrated, and that my fellow Toon fans were possibly guilty of falling for the Cult of Rafa a little too easily. Needless to say I got pelters. Anyway, here we are with Steve Bruce, a less than celebrated manager, getting roughly the same points and finishing in roughly the same position as Benitez. I would take that not necessarily as evidence that Bruce is a better manager than previously thought, rather that the ‘working miracles with a Championship squad’ thrown up around Rafa was wildly over the top. I would argue both Rafa and Bruce have done decent jobs under difficult circumstances – how some Newcastle fans can still claim Rafa did an amazing job and Bruce is merely lucky is just baffling to me. Thoughts?”
I’d be interested to pass that one onto other Toon fans but, broadly, I think you might be onto something …
Mourinho speaks: “Of course, fantastic, the most important thing was three points against Arsenal kept us in the fight for the Europa League. Of course it was a good feeling but we have three matches to play to try and get the Europa League position. I think we are a Champions League club but this season went in the wrong direction from day one for lots of different reasons.
“We would always support Serge’s decision. If he decided not to play until the end of the season we would respect that. He asked to play and then to go to France tomorrow which we are of course supporting.
So does Bruce: “We’re without six or seven but you can’t use an excuse, that’s why we’ve got a squad as big as we have and it gives people an opportunity.”
More on that team news: Spurs are unchanged, which means Serge Aurier – whose brother sadly died two days ago – starts at right-back. Newcastle miss the injured Jamaal Lascelles so Fabian Schar drops back into defence. Emil Krafth replaces Danny Rose, who can’t play against his parent club, while Nabil Bentaleb is in for Javier Manquillo.
If you would like to keep in touch during this evening’s proceedings, don’t be shy! Drop me a line using one of the addresses at the top of the page.
Because we are nothing if not good to you, we can offer two (TWO) more MBMs operating simultaneously to this one. Sharpen up your multitasking skills with these …
Man City v Bournemouth, with the one and only Simon Burnton:
Burnley v Wolves, avec the great Paul Doyle:
Newcastle: Dubravka; Krafth, Fernandez, Schar, Yedlin; Shelvey, Bentaleb, Almiron; Ritchie, Gayle, Saint-Maximin. Subs: Darlow, Joelinton, Muto, Manquillo, Lazaro, Atsu, M Longstaff, Allan, Young.
Spurs: Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Davies; Winks, Sissoko; Lo Celso, Lucas, Son; Kane. Subs: Gazzaniga, Tanganga, Vertonghen, White, Sessegnon, Skipp, Gedson, Lamela, Bergwijn.
Welcome to the first of two pretty significant games in the chase for Europa League spots. Arsenal v Liverpool is later, but first of all let’s see if Spurs can really hammer home their recent spot of moderately improved form and move up to seventh – or sixth if they can win and Wolves lose at Burnley.
It’s all slightly cold comfort given last year’s Champions League exploits, but finishing in that top six or seven would at least suggest some minor momentum is brewing under Jose Mourinho. That victory over Arsenal on Sunday was huge, really, and there’s a fair chance they’ll be five points clear of their north London rivals (the current gap is two) by the time today is out. Provided Jose is off the phone to his mate Pep, and they’ve hashed out the nuances of FFP, he’ll see this as a massive opportunity to further silence the haterz and the doubterz.
Not that it’s a given he’ll manage that today. Newcastle might have been ideal opponents for teams that *need* a win in recent years but, fair play to Steve Bruce, he’s got them well clear of relegation this time and they certainly aren’t the least watchable team in the league either. They’re off the back of two defeats but have the giddy heights of 11th in their sights with the “W” – as I think they say nowadays, which makes little sense to me as it takes longer to say than “win” – here.
My hunch, as you didn’t ask for it? Might not be a classic but it should be close, and genuinely interesting. Will Spurs keep on looking upwards, or will they will be glancing nervously back towards mid-table come full-time? Stay with us to find out!