Tottenham made a roaring start to the new Premier League season with a comprehensive victory over newly promoted Newcastle, putting to bed any doubts over unrest or stagnation after Danny Rose’s explosive comments to a tabloid newspaper.
The north Londoners were in control of the match throughout, though only really showed their fangs after the home side had been reduced to 10 men. Goals from Dele Alli and Ben Davies secured the three points, and there were plenty of positives…
STAR MAN – CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN
This could be the season that Christian Eriksen really starts to get the credit his immense talent deserves. The Dane started the new campaign like he ended the last, totally controlling every facet of the match at St James’ Park.
In the first half he was by far Spurs’ most dangerous player, finding and exploiting space, and it was he who unlocked the defence to setup the first goal with a deliciously weighted lobbed pass for Alli to volley home not long after the restart.
Minutes later he setup Spurs’ second goal, meaning he has now assisted more goals (30) since the start of the 2015/16 season than any other player. He was a class above against Newcastle.
FAILED TO IMPRESS – HARRY KANE
Harry Kane won’t get many better opportunities to end his barren run of goals in the month of August than against an injury-hit, 10-man Newcastle side. The forward has incredibly gone 11 games now without netting in the first month of the season.
He had chances to break his duck though, notably spanking an effort straight at the body of Rob Elliott from six yards out and then rattling the post. The Golden Boot holder looked a little sluggish, though understandably so given that he was afforded an extended break. For now, August truly is the cruellest month for Kane.
BIGGEST ERROR – JONJO SHELVEY
Handed the captaincy for Sunday’s match, Jonjo Shelvey gave his side a mountain to climb when he stupidly and deliberately stamped on Alli as he clung to the ball on the deck. It was a simple decision for Andre Marriner to pull out the red card.
Up until that point, Rafa Benitez’s gameplan had worked very well. Newcastle blocked passing lanes and stifled the supply into Spurs’ front two. But their resistance was impossible to maintain when a man down. Shelvey must stamp out that kind of ill-discipline if he is to help his side stay up… and even stay in the Magpies’ side.
WHO SURPRISED US? – KYLE WALKER-PETERS
A week ago, his manager felt he was not yet ready for the Premier League, but Kyle Walker-Peters never looked overawed as he made his debut for Spurs. The 20-year-old lined up at right-back and was as composed and confident in possession as he usually is in the youth sides.
In the first half an hour, no player on the pitch had had more touches of the ball – he eventually ended the match with 80 touches – while his one successful take-on was more than Kieran Trippier managed all of last season.
He picked up a clean sheet, had 91 per cent passing accuracy, dominated the right flank as the match wore on – despite Benitez deliberately doubling up on him – and looks like he can be genuine competition for Trippier this season. A very impressive debut.