For the first time in English football, the transfer window has closed before the new season commences. I will not make any of this article about our lack of quality activity in the transfer window but use this as an opportunity to state the fact that the time for talking about transfer speculation and uncertainty over comings and goings has stopped so we can focus on the task in hand and get off to a good start to the season.
Other events at the club have been about Rafa Benitez in not signing a contract extension, the Spaniard's current contract runs out at the end of this upcoming season. Again, I will not make this article about the fans' anger towards Mike Ashley, I just want to say that I will completely back Rafa with whatever decision he makes regarding his contract situation.
For the third time in the past seven seasons, we will be facing Tottenham on the opening day at St. James' Park. We beat Spurs 2-1 on the opening day of the 2012/13 with Hatem Ben Arfa scoring the winner from the penalty spot and then last year, Jonjo Shelvey received a straight red card before Ben Davies and Dele Alli guided Spurs to victory. For the past couple of years now, at the start of a new season, talk rises regarding Harry Kane's August goal drought, a jinx that could come to an end at St. James' Park on Saturday.
Facts and Figures
Tottenham wins: 68
Newcastle wins: 58
Newcastle wins: 20
Tottenham wins: 20
Premier League at St. James' Park
Newcastle wins: 12
Tottenham wins: 6
Previous ten (all competitions)
Tottenham wins: 7 (19 goals)
Newcastle wins: 3 (12 goals)
Biggest win: Newcastle United 7 - 1 Tottenham (28/12/1996)
Biggest defeat: Newcastle United 0 - 4 Tottenham (12/02/2014)
Newcastle 5 - 1 Tottenham - 15/05/2016 (Premier League)
Karl Darlow: In the previous home game before the visit of Spurs in May 2016, Darlow saved a crucial penalty at the Gallowgate end against former Newcastle midfielder, Yohan Cabaye against Crystal Palace. With Tim Krul and Rob Elliot being left out with long term injuries, Darlow was entrusted between the sticks for the final few games of the season and then went on to be a key part in the club's Championship winning side.
Daryl Janmaat: Janmaat was one of five players from this starting XI to move away from the club in the first transfer window that followed in summer 2016. The Dutch international did play the first two matches of the following season but swapped St. James' Park for Vicarage Road for £7.5m and is still there today. Janmaat did end his Newcastle career on a high though as he scored the fifth and final goal past Hugo Lloris and grabbed the assist for the fourth goal in this match.
Steven Taylor: It was the end of an era after this game for local lad, Steven Taylor. The defender made 215 league appearances for the club over the course of a 13-year period and is still today, Newcastle's highest scoring defender in the Premier League. After the end of his contract, Taylor had brief and unsuccessful spells at Portland Timbers and Ipswich before being a key part of the Peterborough squad last season. He has now moved down under to join Wellington Phoenix.
Chancel Mbemba: Chancel was signed at the start of the 2015/16 season and gave off a good first impression however his first season in English football ended with relegation. Mbemba remained at the club but after being dropped in September 2016, it took a long time for the DR Congo international to find his way back into the team. Following the signing of Florian Lejeune at the start of the following season, Mbemba was left out the side on a regular basis. We wish him all the best at his new club, FC Porto.
Paul Dummett: It took a bit of time for the fans to take to local lad, Paul Dummett as he failed to provide consistent performances in the left back position. On the opening day last season, Dummett was on the receiving end of a harsh Harry Kane tackle which forced him on the sidelines for half of the season. Since his return from injury, Dummett has been one of the star performers in the squad and from my view, has pleasantly surprised me.
Cheick Tiote: Tiote spent six and a half years on Tyneside and will be forever remembered for his stunning late equaliser against Arsenal in February 2011. Following this match in May 2016, Tiote remained at the club and made a few cameo appearances before he left to play for Beijing Enterprises the following January. On 5th June 2017, Tiote very sadly lost his life at the age of 30.
Jack Colback: Ginger Jack was something of a regular at St. James' Park until we gained promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. Struggling with the competition for the central midfield role at the club, Colback has been sent out on loan to Nottingham Forest on two occasions and is unlikely to feature for Newcastle again as his contract will expire in the near future.
Moussa Sissoko: Similarly to Taylor, Townsend and Wijnaldum, this match against Tottenham became Sissoko's last for Newcastle before moving over to the North London club for £30m. In this match, he went out with a bang and ended his Newcastle career in a similar way to how he started it after he scored two crucial goals including a last minute winner against Chelsea on his home debut in February 2013. He knocked in an excellent cross for Aleksandar Mitrovic to head home and he was fouled for the penalty by Jan Vertonghen which Wijnaldum converted to put the Magpies 3-1 up after going down to ten men.
Andros Townsend: Despite a brief spell on Tyneside, Townsend did impress and put himself in contention for a place in England's Euro 2016 squad because of his fine goals and performances. As expected, Townsend did leave Tyneside in the hope that he would breakthrough to the England squad and that was only going to happen if he played for a Premier League club. He is still a Crystal Palace player.
Georginio Wijnaldum: Despite not being in the squad for his goalscoring ability, Wijnaldum was the club's highest scorer in the 2015/16 season (all goals coming at home) and that was helped as he bagged himself two goals in this match which was his last for Newcastle after just the one season at St. James' Park. Wijanldum moved to Liverpool to work under Jurgen Klopp and has been a fine player for the Reds. Despite playing well, his goalscoring away from home jinx continued until earlier this year when he scored against Roma in the Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg.
Aleksandar Mitrovic: The positives about Mitrovic from this game is that he assisted Wijnaldum for the first goal and doubled the lead with a good header. However, he was then sent off in the second half for a horrible foul on Kyle Walker - something which would continue to haunt the Serbian international until his departure to Fulham this summer. Because of that suspension, he missed out on the opening few games of the season and Benitez seemed to not trust him on his fiery temperament. Another needless suspension followed after Newcastle's first win back in the Premier League against West Ham which was almost the final nail in the coffin of his Newcastle career. He then impressed whilst on loan at Fulham, scored the winner against Sunderland and helped the Londoners achieve promotion to the Premier League following a four year absence. That loan was then made permanent for the sum of £22m which, in my view, was an excellent deal for us considering he hardly played for us in the past year and we bought him for £15m - however that deal would have only been good for us if the money was spent wisely, in other words, if we bought a £22m calibre striker.