Football Features

Tottenham 1-2 Newcastle: ‘Playing like Almiron’ takes on a whole new meaning as Magpies break into top-four

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 18:55, 23 October 2022

An eight-game Premier League winning streak at home was snapped as Tottenham Hotspur suffered a 2-1 loss to Newcastle United this evening.

Antonio Conte’s men were still reeling following a lackadaisical performance and defeat at Old Trafford earlier this week. The response was five changes — Oliver Skipp, making his first start since January, lined up alongside Davinson Sanchez, Emerson Royal, Ryan Sessegnon and Clement Lenglet — but it ultimately ended up fruitless as Spurs were once again the architects of their own downfall.

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At the centre was an oft-reliable goalkeeper and skipper Hugo Lloris; firstly a coming together with Callum Wilson which allowed the Newcastle marksman to stroke the ball into an empty net, before casually giving possession away leading to a piece of Paraguayan brilliance. “Miguel Almiron has one man to thank for his amazing revival it’s not Eddie Howe it’s Jack Grealish,” screamed Jamie Carragher on commentary, in reference to a jibe the City forward made during last season’s open top bus parade.

Back then Bernardo Silva had asked him on camera about the secret behind their final-day comeback against Aston Villa to win the title. He replied: “There were two secrets… one, Riyad [Mahrez], take him off the pitch, as soon as possible. He played like Almiron. Number two, [pointing at Silva] he’s been so good this season, get him off the pitch.”

A revival is an understatement. Heading into this latest Premier League matchday, Almirón netted five goals across 11 appearances, marking his best return in a single campaign which is as many as he’d bagged across the previous two seasons combined (five in 64 appearances). After today it’s six in 12, to put that in some perspective, the former MLS star only managed nine across 110 outings before this season. “I don’t think Miggy is motivated by anything other than trying to be his best for Newcastle and for the supporters, who absolutely love him and rightly so,” Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe said following their 1-0 win over Everton midweek.

Tottenham was rattled and came off at half-time to a cacophony of boos. The visitors understandably smelled blood in the water and pushed for a three-goal lead but cometh the hour, well six minutes before 60 minutes was reached, cometh Harry Kane who registered his tenth of the season — a tally he’s now reached in nine successive Premier League seasons but doing so in the fastest amount of time — via a familiar mean.

Stooping at the far post, following a corner, Kane nodded home from close range subsequently halving the deficit and putting him seven behind the legendary Jimmy Greaves in Tottenham’s record all-time goalscorers list. Also, when it comes to scoring from corners, no one does it better than Conte’s side. “This is a team which is fantastic at set-pieces,” Carragher noted on commentary. “That’s seven goals this season from corners for Spurs – more than any other team.”

A lifeline indeed, but with the game now being played in monsoon-like conditions, Tottenham couldn’t force an equaliser. There were several attempts but nothing to really trouble Nick Pope who ended today’s contest having made three saves. Even though he didn’t keep a clean sheet, this was nevertheless the first real statement win under Howe’s leadership this season; they squandered a 3-1 lead over Man City to share the spoils, suffered their only loss so far at Liverpool (2-1) after unnecessarily time-wasting, and were lucky to leave Old Trafford with a goalless draw.

They’re now seven unbeaten, winning four of those contests, such a run has enabled them to enter the top four. It’s the first time Newcastle sat this high up the championship table with as many as 12 games played since April 2012 (4th after 35 games).

It’s been over two decades since a Newcastle team played Champions League group-stage football. From recent showings, there’s nothing to suggest that Howe’s men will not be dining at European football’s high table in a year’s time. No team have lost fewer games than Howe’s men (1) this season. Indeed, this is the joint-fewest defeats the Magpies have had after 12 games of a Premier League campaign, along with 1994/95, 1995/96 and 2011/12 – they finished in the top six in each of the previous three instances.

As for their hosts, it capped off a really bad week. Momentum has been halted with questions starting to be asked of Conte who has now presided over three losses across their previous five Premier League outings.