Tottenham Hotspur will be keen on closing the gap on archrivals and early leaders Arsenal when they welcome Newcastle United to White Hart Lane in the Premier League on Sunday.
Spurs currently sit sixth in the league table, five points behind the Gunners but a win against the Toon today will put them level on points with second-placed Liverpool. Andre Villas-Boas' men followed up their stalemate at Everton last week with a 2-1 victory over Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa League in midweek, to progress to the knock-out stages of the competition.
Tottenham have kept seven clean sheets from 10 league matches so far this season but what worries them is the scoring record, as the north London outfit has managed just nine goals so far, three of them penalties.
"We just have to make sure we are up to our level, we weren't for example in the game against West Ham, we hope to be solid and create as much as we can. I'm not sure what their strategy will be, Newcastle have a great team full of gifted, technical players so I expect them to play against us. Alan [Pardew] is a manager who prepares well for the games so it won't be easy for us," AVB pointed out.
Newcastle, on the other hand, are 11th in the Premier League, five points clear of the drop zone. The Magpies will be buoyed by their 2-0 victory over title contenders Chelsea last week, but Pardew's side continue to remain unpredictable in their performances.
"There are a lot of clubs who would envy our position as we sit here today and we have to always think that our glass is half-full rather than half-empty. I think we are in better shape than we have been given credit for. But this week, I have seen a lot more positive press about our players, who have been terrific. We have had some great performances," Pardew stressed.
Tottenham: Villas-Boas has no fresh injury concerns but Danny Rose (toe), Sandro, Nacer Chadli (both hamstring), Emmanuel Adebayor (foot), and Zeki Fryers (groin) have all been sidelined for this clash.
Newcastle: Jonás Gutiérrez (personal reasons), Steven Taylor, Massadio Haidara, Paul Dummett (all hamstring) and Ryan Taylor (knee) remain unavailable but captain Fabio Coloccini returns from a groin injury. Cheick Tiote, who limped off against Chelsea last week with a muscle strain, is also expected to return to the line-up.
Tottenham: Hugo Lloris' performances have been crucial in their seven clean sheets so far and the spotlight will be on the Frenchman today, with AVB revealing the stopper will start against the Magpies, despite suffering a concussion at Everton last week.
Newcastle: Loic Remy is in good form with six goals from eight league matches but Lloris and the Spurs defence are expected to keep him quiet. However, one player who could be a handful for Tottenham is Yohan Cabaye, with the former Lille man's inch-perfect crosses, free-kicks and accurate long-range shoots causing damage to the opposition in recent weeks.
Where to Watch Live
Kick-off is set for 5.30pm IST on Sunday, with Star Sports 4 providing live coverage in India.
Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Chiriches, Vertonghen; Capoue, Paulinho; Townsend, Holtby, Lennon; Soldado
Newcastle: Krul; Debuchy, Coloccini, Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon; Sissoko, Cabaye, Tiote, Gouffran; Shola Ameobi, Remy
Prediction: 1-0 to Spurs