May 25 2013 Latest news:
By Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent
Friday, February 8, 2013
Tottenham fans who are pondering whether their side were active enough in the January transfer window will cast an envious eye at Newcastle’s list of recruits tomorrow as a ‘new look’ Newcastle outfit arrive at White Hart Lane.
Alan Pardew’s Magpies went on a veritable spending spree in January, taking full advantage of the winter sales and recruiting six players – five of whom were French.
Mathieu Debuchy arrived from Lille early in the window, and he was followed by Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Montpellier), Yoan Gouffran (Bordeaux), Massadio Haidara (Nancy) and Moussa Sissoko (Toulouse) for a combined outlay of £17.8million.
Newcastle’s French imports joined their fellow countrymen Romain Amalfitano, Yohan Cabaye, Gabriel Obertan, Hatem Ben Arfa and Sylvain Marveaux, giving the Magpies no less than 10 French players in their squad – seven of whom were named in the matchday squad against Chelsea on Saturday.
Pardew’s shopping trip to France was a necessary one, though. Having initially been tipped to battle for the top four this season, as they did last year, the Magpies struggled in the first half of the season and fell into the relegation battle.
Injuries have certainly taken their toll but now, for the first time, the Newcastle boss feels he has adequate tools at his disposal - and he is viewing the end of the transfer window as a new dawn for his side.
“It’s a kind of restart for us because we are so much stronger in terms of depth and quality,” said Pardew.
“We have got Yohan [Cabaye] coming back, and he’s like a new player. Debuchy has come into the building and settled quickly, Sylvain Marveaux is playing well, and then the new boys on top of that.
“We have had a small squad since I have been here and now for the first time I think I have the full allocation – and that goes without the injury crisis we have suffered this particular year.
“We are up to full strength really and now it is about making sure we get the victories we need to build on this.
“People keep talking about us finishing fifth last year, but I have never been able to field that team because of injuries.
“We now have a strong squad. We will probably have a new look to us and that new look hopefully settles quickly because we have not got a lot of games left.”
He added: “Tottenham is a difficult one, but we are going there with renewed vigour – we have some ‘je ne sais quoi’ in the team – and hopefully we can get something there.”
Newcastle’s outlay in January was largely offset by the sale of Demba Ba, who scored 13 goals for the club in the first half of the season – including the equaliser in the 2-1 home win over Spurs on the opening day – before moving to Chelsea for £8m.
However, a new goal hero has already emerged on Tyneside with midfielder Sissoko scoring twice in his second appearance on Saturday to secure a 3-2 victory over Chelsea.
The 23-year-old cost a reported £1.8m, and Pardew said: “We rushed the deal to get him here in January. He was supposed to be a summer target but we wanted him and he’s paid us back handsomely.
“He has fantastic power but, with players, you never know about their attitude until you get them in and start working with them – but he came in like a giant and played like a giant.”
At the other end of the field, Pardew will have been relieved that centre-back Fabricio Coloccini has decided to stay until the end of the season, having previously told the club that he wanted to return to Argentina for personal reasons.
Coloccini has left his mark on a couple of opposition strikers this season, having knocked out three of Peter Crouch’s teeth in November and breaking his former team-mate Ba’s nose at the weekend.
Given their lack of forwards, Spurs will be hoping he doesn’t make it a hat-trick at the Lane.
Commenting on tomorrow’s visitors, Andre Villas-Boas said: “They had injuries to key players during the season, which didn’t help – Steven Taylor and Cabaye. They are players that have an immediate impact in the team, they can make the difference.
“I think they’ve found their ground now with the additions they have. Alan put most of them [the signings] in the team straight away and they had an immediate impact.
“Sissoko is a player who was being linked with the top clubs in the world three or four years ago, and to get him at such a low price is a massive coup for them.
“Two wins is a massive boost for them - it takes away some of the pressure from the relegation battle that they were in.
“They arrive here a new team, basically, after the wins against Aston Villa and Chelsea. Obviously we are unsure what they can still do, but I predict Newcastle to jump back and continue to climb up the table.”
The verdict: Spurs have won their last three home games against the Magpies and triumphed 5-0 at the Lane last season – indeed it was a year ago this weekend, on February 11 2012.
It won’t be that easy this time, but we’ll back Tottenham to win 1-0.
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