- This will be the fourth time these sides have met on the opening weekend, more than any other Premier League fixture.
- Harry Kane has never scored a PL goal in August, despite playing 13 matches, 898 minutes and having 44 shots.
- Spurs are playing their first match of the season away from home for the eighth consecutive campaign. Only Burnley have had a longer sequence in English top-flight history, with nine matches between 1888/89 and 1896/97.
Mauricio Pochettino begins his fifth season in charge of Tottenham with a trip up the country to visit Rafa Benitez and Newcastle early on Saturday (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
Pochettino broke a record this summer, making exactly zero signings in the transfer window, though he was also able to sign star Harry Kane to a new contract and keep he, Dele Alli, and even Toby Alderweireld at the club, despite plenty of foreign interest. All nine players involved in the World Cup semifinals are back in training, and a couple may even make the gameday squad.
Benitez meanwhile has called for a period of “calm” and has suspended contract talks with owner Mike Ashley after a tumultuous summer. Newcastle made seven signings, including Kenedy from Chelsea on loan and Solomon Rondon from West Brom, in addition to permanent signings such as Fabian Schar and Federico Fernandez, but the club amazingly let 22 players leave, including Aleksandar Mitrovic for a transfer fee of $25.5 million to Fulham.
With so many players just getting back to fitness following World Cup duty, Newcastle could have the advantage over Tottenham in this season-opening matchup.
What they’re saying
Tottenham manager Pochettino on defending his decision to not sign new players: “I am happy to keep all the squad together. There are many rumors during the summer about players out. I think the Club made a massive effort to try to extend contracts with people like Harry Kane. He is one example but there are many examples too. We believe a lot in our players. Now (we have) players who competed at a high level in the World Cup, now we have the captain who is the world champion, the one who lifted the trophy. That is, I think, a fantastic experience for him to translate to our team. Sure we are going to be better, no doubt about that.”
Newcastle manager Benitez on building on last season’s 10th place finish: “We have to do exactly what we did last year – the fans, the commitment of these players, the togetherness, the work-rate – everything that we did right, we have to do now. During the summer, you have to try to improve your squad as much as possible. As soon as you finish, you have to try and concentrate on football. The fans could expect, ‘Oh, Rafa, he will be upset. He will say “this”, he will say “that”.’ But, it’s not the time to do that. It’s the time to be sure that we can win games on the pitch, and we can compete. The team we have, the majority of them were here last season and we finished tenth. That’s a great achievement for them, and a great achievement for us. Now, we have added some players. It’s good, it’s positive, it could be better – always, you can improve, and be better – but at the moment it is what we have. I’m really pleased with the commitment of these players, and the things they have done last year. The things they can do this year, with more competition in the squad, I am quite positive on that.”
With a full squad at his disposal, Benitez has a great chance to get Newcastle off to a fast start with a win. Tottenham will still need a few weeks before it finds its feet and returns to consistent winning ways, and that’s okay. Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham