Tottenham Hotspur got off to a flying start in their 2017/18 Premier League campaign today with a 2-0 win away at newly-promoted side Newcastle United. Jonjo Shelvey changed the game in the second-half by getting sent off for an idiotic stamp on Dele Alli.
Tottenham took advantage of the extra man with goals from Alli and Ben Davies to claim their first three points of the season.
Despite the defeat, there are still plenty of positives for Newcastle to take, especially their performance in the first-half. There is no doubt that Shelvey’s dismissal changed the game and if he had remained on the pitch, the outcome could have been very different.
We take a look at what players would make a combined starting line-up for the two sides based on their performances in today’s match.
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris
The 30-year-old Tottenham goalkeeper is undoubtedly one of the best keepers in the Premier League alongside the likes of David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois. This was a relatively straight forward start to the season for the Frenchman with Newcastle rarely threatening in front of goal. However, he produced when he was called upon, and his distribution was excellent throughout.
Right-Back: Kyle Walker-Peters
The 20-year-old was given his first League start for Tottenham by his manager Mauricio Pochettino, and it was an opportunity he grasped with both hands. The right-back spot opened up for the youngster following Kyle Walker’s departure to Manchester City and Kieran Trippier picking up an injury. He looked calm and collected throughout and looks to be a player with tremendous potential.
Centre-Back: Jamaal Lascelles
An early injury suffered to Newcastle left-back Paul Dummett saw the 23-year-old centre-half introduced from the bench with less than 10 minutes played. He certainly looked like he had a point to prove and looked good against one of the most potent attacking forces in the league. He dealt with the likes of Alli and Harry Kane relatively well throughout and ensured that Newcastle were not exposed despite being a man down.
Centre-Back: Toby Alderweireld
The 28-year-old centre-half has formed a superb partnership with fellow defender Jan Vertonghen at Tottenham in the last few years, and the pair looked solid yet again today. Newcastle were relatively direct throughout the match but struggled to really create any clear cut chances. Dwight Gayle was left visibly frustrated throughout, and credit has to go to the Spurs defence for that.
Left-Back: Ben Davies
The 24-year-old full-back was given a rare chance to impress from the start in today’s match due to the complicated situation regarding Danny Rose’s recent comments. However, Tottenham did not miss Rose as Davies produced a very impressive performance both defensively and offensively. He even managed to get himself on the scoresheet in the second-half to make sure of the three points for his side.
Defensive Midfielder: Isaac Hayden
The midfielder made a very bright start to this match and was a dominant force for Newcastle in the middle of the park. However, Shelvey’s dismissal made his job a lot harder, but he still managed to play relatively well. The 22-year-old could be a key player for Benitez’s side this year if he can replicate this sort of performance on a regular basis.
Defensive Midfielder: Eric Dier
The 23-year-old midfielder did what he did on numerous occasions last season; he provided solid protection to Spurs’ back four.
He often does the ‘dirty’ work which goes unnoticed by supporters, but his contribution is certainly valued by his manager and his teammates. Spurs are likely to be very difficult to score against again this season with Dier in the team.
Central Midfielder: Christian Eriksen
The Danish midfielder has been linked with a move to the likes of Barcelona this summer, and he made it clear to see why again in this match. He was arguably the man-of-the-match due to his excellent range of passing throughout. His cross for Dele Alli’s opening goal was world-class, and without his input today, Spurs may never have been able to break Newcastle down.
Attacking Midfielder: Dele Alli
It is surprising that a team has not offered big money for Spurs’ 21-year-old midfield star so far this summer due to his superb performances for his side last season. He was at it again today and was a constant threat throughout. Shelvey got sent off for standing on Alli’s ankle, but he did not let this affect his performance. He went on to get the breakthrough goal for his side with an excellent finish on the volley.
Forward: Christian Atsu
The 25-year-old Ghanaian winger was, without a doubt, Newcastle’s main attacking threat throughout the match. He was the only one to cause Spurs’ defence any kind of worry and put in several good crosses. However, unfortunately for him, he had very little attacking support alongside him on numerous occasions.
Forward: Harry Kane
The striker put in another impressive performance and was incredibly unlucky to not get on the scoresheet in the second-half. The 24-year-old Tottenham striker was first kept out by an impressive save from Rob Elliot before hitting the post in the latter stages. He will no doubt score many goals again this season if he continues to get these sort of chances.