Allen Hamilton

What: English Premier League
Who: Tottenham Hotspur (5th; 30 points) vs Newcastle United (9th; 22 points)
When: Tuesday 28th December, 2010, at 15:00 UK time
Where: White Hart Lane, London, England

Premier League Title a Possibility?

To say confidence is high around White Hart Lane at present would be something of an understatement. Even before Spurs left Villa Park with all three points on Boxing Day – and with ten men too after Jermain Defoe’s sending off – Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp was talking up the possibility of his side challenging for the title. While many believed securing a Champions League spot once again would be the limit of Spurs ambitions, it is not so.

"Maybe we are outsiders, 40-1 shots", said Redknapp, "but there is a chance. It is not impossible. If you have a good Christmas, then it is wide open."

And Spurs have had a good start to Christmas with the win over Aston Villa, but it will lose some of its lustre if the London giants cannot beat Newcastle here. Fortunately for Tottenham, summer deadline day beating signing Rafael van der Vaart is continuing his sparkling form and has taken to Premier League football like a speedboat to water, zooming past defenders with ease and scoring for fun, something Redknapp believes will continue. "He can certainly score goals and his goalscoring record is amazing. He did that in Germany. I think he scored 20 goals there [with Hamburg] in a season and he’s capable of getting 15, 20 goals a year because he’s such a fantastic finisher."

Relying On Andy Carroll?

Newcastle could hardly be blamed for succumbing to Manchester City on Boxing Day, but new manager Alan Pardew will hope for a positive reaction from his troops. Much of Pardew’s time on Tyneside thus far though has been spent batting away questions about the future of Andy Carroll. The lanky striker, who was again on the scoresheet in the 3-1 loss to City, has attracted attention from far and wide, leaving Pardew forced to issue a warning to would-be suitors that the Geordie hitman is going nowhere.

"Andy’s career path is here", said the Newcastle boss. "He just has to keep working hard. We have to have a big-club mentality to hold on to our best players."

A big-club mentality may be what Pardew is trying to instil at St. James’ Park, but the former Charlton boss will need to produce the results to back it up. While Newcastle are comfortably in mid-table, with 22 points, that total is just four more than Birmingham, who sit just outside the relegation zone. A win at White Hart Lane would be quite a feat though, with only Wigan having emerged victorious against Spurs here in the London side’s last 20 Premier League games.


Recent form

Tottenham Hotspur:
FC Twente 3-3 Tottenham Hotspur (07/12; Champions League)
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Chelsea
(12/12; Premier League)
Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur (26/12; Premier League)

Newcastle United:
West Brom 3-1 Newcastle United
(05/12; Premier League)
Newcastle United 3-1 Liverpool
(11/12; Premier League)
Newcastle United 1-3 Manchester City (26/12; Premier League)

Key absences

Tottenham Hotspur: Jermain Defoe (suspended); William Gallas (doubt); Tom Huddlestone; Ledley King; Jonathan Woodgate; Jamie O’Hara

Newcastle United: Kevin Nolan (suspended); Hatem Ben Arfa; Shola Ameobi (doubt); Dan Gosling

Players to watch

Tottenham Hotspur – Rafael van der Vaart: The Dutchman has enjoyed an extended honeymoon since his arrival from Real Madrid in the summer and can do no wrong for Spurs. Although Van der Vaart was expected to create chances galore, his goal scoring knack has surprised many, with the attacking midfielder taking his chances with aplomb. Having notched a double against Aston Villa on Boxing Day, Van der Vaart is in red hot form.

Newcastle United – Andy Carroll: Carroll seems to be the name appearing on a great many clubs’ January shopping wishlists, although Newcastle are keen to keep hold of their powerful striker. And with good reason, Carroll has looked dangerous this season and appears Newcastle’s main goal threat. He is awkward for defenders to deal with and can often produce moments of brilliance. If Newcastle can win at White Hart Lane, Andy Carroll will have had much to do with it.

Match prediction

Spurs appear in great form at present and are high on confidence, with boss Harry Redknapp whispering title nothings into their ears. At White Hart Lane, besides the Wigan blip, they have produced the goods this season and there is little reason to think they will stop now. Newcastle are inconsistent and whether Alan Pardew can change that pattern remains to be seen. While they could produce a shock, a Spurs win is the likely outcome. Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Newcastle United.