x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Newcastle United's Moussa Sissoko providing an early spark

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has been impressed with Moussa Sissoko and the other Newcastle United signings

Newcastle United's Moussa Sissoko, left, is off to a fast start with his new club and is hoping to add his goal count when the Tynesiders visit Tottenham on Saturday. David Davies / PA Images
Newcastle United's Moussa Sissoko, left, is off to a fast start with his new club and is hoping to add his goal count when the Tynesiders visit Tottenham on Saturday. David Davies / PA Images

Andre Villas-Boas, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, believes his Newcastle United counterpart Alan Pardew may have landed one of the signings of the season in the midfielder Moussa Sissoko.

Newcastle snapped up Sissoko for a nominal fee last month from Toulouse. The 23-year-old Frenchman already has scored twice for his new employers.

Villas-Boas is a big fan of Sissoko, and Newcastle's other January signings, like Mathieu Debuchy and Yoan Gouffran, so he knows his team will have to be on their guard when the Tynesiders arrive at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

"Most of their signings have gone straight in and have had the right impact," Villas-Boas said.

"Sissoko was a great grab. A couple of years ago he was being linked with the top clubs in the world and to get him at such a low price was a massive coup for them."

Pardew acquired five new players, but Villas-Boas was significantly less active in the transfer window.

Lewis Holtby was the only senior signing the Portuguese made as efforts to bring in the Internacional striker Leandro Damiao failed.

The Spurs manager is content with his squad, however, and is extremely pleased with how Holtby has settled in following his move from Schalke.

The German international midfielder has impressed off the bench in two appearances so far, and he could start if Villas-Boas decides to go through with his plan to play Gareth Bale behind either Emmanuel Adebayor or Clint Dempsey.

"He's made an immediate impact in the team in both games," Villas-Boas said. "Lewis offers further options playing from the channels coming in. We haven't seen him in this position yet."

Although Tottenham are unbeaten in two months, their tendency to draw matches meant they have not been able to make an assault on second and third position.

Villas-Boas hopes his team can build on last weekend's victory at West Bromwich Albion that could move them clear in the fight for fourth place if other results go their way with Everton and Arsenal, their nearest rivals, at Manchester United and Sunderland, respectively.

"We want to build a gap over the teams that are chasing us and bridge the gap to those at the top," Villas-Boas said.

Preview information for other EPL matches on Saturday:

Norwich City v Fulham: Revenge is the order of the day at Carrow Road according to Mark Bunn, the Norwich City goalkeeper, when his side take on Fulham. Norwich were beaten 5-0 by their opponents on the opening day of the season, in August.

Bunn said it was a result they are keen to put right. “It’s not nice to get beaten by five so I think the boys will want to put it right with a good result,“ he said. “Hopefully, we can get a win. I think the lads will be trying to erase that memory.”

Stoke City v Reading: Adam Le Fondre is keen to lose his tag of “super sub” for Reading by earning a starting place in the team. The forward was named the league’s player of the month for January earlier this week after scoring five goals, all of which came in games where he started as a substitute.

Ahead of today’s game with Stoke City he said: “I don’t want to be stuck with that tag for the rest of my career. I don’t want to play 20 minutes in games, I want to play for 90 minutes.”

Sunderland v Arsenal: An injury picked up on international duty has made James McClean a major doubt for Sunderland’s game with Arsenal today. The midfielder picked up an ankle injury playing for the Republic of Ireland against Poland on Wednesday.

Martin O’Neill, the Sunderland manager, said: “He hurt himself in the first half, but continued in the second half and came off after, I think, 80 minutes in the match and arrived here, where his ankle is particularly swollen.”

Swansea City v Queen Park Rangers: Ashley Williams believes the number of new faces in the Queens Park Rangers team has made it difficult for Swansea City to prepare for today’s game against the London side.

Harry Redknapp, the QPR manager, signed six players in the January transfer window for the bottom-placed side, and Williams, the Swansea defender, said: “With a new manager and a team made up of a lot of new players, you don’t really know what’s going to happen. That’s a fact.”

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