There were 20 minutes left to play and Tottenham had only mustered five shots compared to Newcastle’s 17. It was Spurs though who were winning, for they have Harry Kane who fired in a quick-fire double to give his side the lead. However, this game at St James’ Park on Sunday proved the north Londoners must stop relying on the striker. After failing to create enough chances, the score ended 2-2 as the Magpies found a way back in and earned what could prove to be a hugely vital point.
This week, while on international duty with England, Kane admitted talk over his Tottenham future ahead of Euro 2020 is a ‘hard question to answer right now’. Such an apparent impasse in his mind will rightly worry Spurs fans when such noises come in the same week Manchester City announced club legend Sergio Aguero will leave the Etihad this summer. Manchester United, too, have been linked with the talisman and boy, would Tottenham miss him.
However, while looking for a marksman to replace the irreplicable would be a nightmare, Tottenham must also rediscover their attacking style and verve because right now, under Jose Mourinho, they aren’t functioning properly and it’s costing them points. Without trophies, or at least Champions League football, keeping a player of Kane’s talents is not easy at all. Trying to win football matches playing as they are without such a lethal attacker is even harder.
Here, in the north-east, Kane showed his clinical best to net a brace in four first-half minutes. It was a lack of spark and creativity going forward and a poor display by the Spurs defence which cancelled out his double and left Tottenham with just a point.
Newcastle were just two points above the relegation zone heading into the weekend but went ahead on 27 minutes as Brazilian Joelinton found the net, capitalising on some sloppy play by Jose Mourinho’s side at the back to score his first goal since November and give the hosts the lead. Tottenham were in front thanks to Kane, though, only seven minutes later.
The Spurs number ten pounced after Jamal Lascelles failed to clear and poked it home. Then, on 34 minutes, he lashed his second past Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravak. Tottenham worked the ball up the pitch quickly and found Kane who controlled and scored with a thunderous finish into the back of the net.
Spurs, in their bright yellow kits, somehow failed to find each other with enough regularity to grab a third. The clock kept ticking but it was Newcastle who pushed and probed. Then, Tottenham were made to pay, and by an Arsenal player too. With only five minutes to go, the midfielder, on loan from the Gunners, made himself a hero back at the Emirates, bundling the ball in after the defence failed to clear their lines.
Tottenham went into this one as heavy favourites and had enough quality on the pitch to see the win over the line. However, without Kane, they probably wouldn’t have had a lead to protect and one wonders if they will be able to maintain their European aspirations should he decide to leave for pastures new.
"It's not a good point. We came here with the objective to win it, so (I'm) not happy with a point," manager Mourinho said. "I don't want to go very deep on my analysis because what I feel, what I think, what I want to say, cannot be with you. It can only be in the dressing room.
"I would say that (there were) too many individual mistakes and then mistakes give instability and maybe then give that perception that you have (instability). For example, in the second half, we are balanced, we are not open, we have more numbers than them in the point where the cross is coming, we have positional control of the first man for the first ball, we have two against one for the second ball in the face of the goal, so we were not too open."
While Spurs’ concerns over keeping star man Kane can wait until the summer, Newcastle’s worries are very much in the present but the hard-fought point they picked up on Sunday could prove key come the end of the season.