Magpies and Spurs to cancel each other out

Bill Esdaile
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NOT even the most passionate of Newcastle fans would have predicted 12 months ago that their side would end the season in fifth place. It was a magnificent effort from everyone at the club and Alan Pardew must take special credit as he wasn’t the most popular appointment back in December 2010.

Demba Ba was a revelation, with 16 league goals, but even he was slightly overshadowed by his Senegalese team-mate Papiss Demba Cisse, who joined in January and scored 13 times in as many games. The two will prove a handful for any defence in the Premier League this season and they will be hoping to get off to a flyer against Tottenham in tomorrow’s early evening game.

It’s the end of an era at White Hart Lane with Harry Redknapp being replaced by Andre Villas-Boas. The Portuguese had a disappointing spell at Chelsea last season, but showed at Porto that he has the potential to be a top-class manager. Luka Modric looks certain to go and Emmanuel Adebayor is unlikely to return. This could be a challenging season for Spurs and they will certainly be relying heavily on Gareth Bale to produce the goods.

This isn’t an easy start for either team and a DRAW looks the most likely outcome at 23/10 with Coral. The last two meetings between the sides at St James’s Park have been stalemates and I’m sure both managers would be happy with a point. I’ll also be selling goals at 2.6 with Sporting Index.

I’ve already said why I think Swansea might struggle this season and they face a tricky trip to West London to take on QPR tomorrow afternoon. Michael Laudrup’s men had a poor record on their travels last season and the tightly enclosed Loftus Road will be quite daunting for the Dane on his first game in charge in the Premier League.

Mark Hughes had an interesting first few months as QPR boss after taking over from Neil Warnock. His side avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth last term, but I’d expect better from them this time around and they can get off to a winning start, at 11/10 with Coral.

Rangers have a decent looking squad and plenty of talent in midfield and upfront. They will have learned plenty from their disastrous run last winter and, with plenty of money in the coffers, they should make a bold bid for a top-half finish.

Stoke had a slightly disappointing time of it in 2011-12 and they could slip up at newly-promoted READING tomorrow. The Potters have won just one of their last 11 Premier League matches and none of their last nine away games.

Reading, on the other hand, took 25 points from a possible 27 in their last nine games at the Madejski last term and will feel confident of starting life back in the top flight with a bang. Brian McDermott’s side are 7/5 with Coral and that is a decent price for a side who I think will do better than expected this season.

I’d expect both Manchester City and Chelsea to win on Sunday against Southampton and Wigan respectively, but Manchester United have a tough trip to away to David Moyes’s Everton at Goodison Park on Monday. They might have to do with a point there, although I don’t have a strong view on the game and am happy to sit it out.

■ Pointers…
Newcastle v Tottenham draw at 23/10 with Coral
Sell total goals at 2.6 with Sporting Index
QPR at 11/10 with Coral
Reading at 7/5 with Coral