AVB wary of revitalised Newcastle
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas believes that Newcastle United are like a "new team" after their recent dealings in the transfer market.
Spurs face a Newcastle side on Saturday that have had a resurgence in form, following the arrival of a number of new additions in the January transfer window.
And Villas-Boas is under no illusion as to the threat that a team full of confidence - following two stright wins - will pose, despite their position in the Premier League table.
"They had injuries to key players during the season, which didn't help - Steven Taylor and [Yohan] Cabaye," he said. "These are players that had an immediate impact in the team, that can make the difference. The strikers were caught between the contract and possibility of leaving like Demba Ba, or [Papiss] Cisse.
"I think they've found their ground now with the additions that they have. Two wins is a massive boost for them, relieving pressure from the relegation battle they were in. They arrive here a new team from this win against Aston Villa and against Chelsea. We are unsure what they can still do, but we predict Newcastle to continue to climb in the classification. [The signings] had the right impact. Most of them, Alan [Pardew] put them in the team straight away and they had an immediate impact."
Villas-Boas reserved special praise for the signing of Moussa Sissoko, who has hit the ground running since arriving at St James' Park.
"Sissoko was a great grab," he said. "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."
Newcastle's resurgence, though, puts into focus Tottenham's own reluctance to significantly add to their squad, especially considering their current lack of options up front.
"It's a risk that we weren't willing to take," Villas-Boas said. "We spoke about it a lot over here. The injuries have happened. Fortunately it's not a dramatic injury. Our calendar this month is not that bad. We play this game against Newcastle, then play against Lyon, then have the whole week to prepare for Lyon, and then [Jermain] Defoe will be back."
Villas-Boas, however, feels that Spurs' sole January signing - Lewis Holtby from Schalke - has integrated into the club very well.
"He's made an immediate impact in the team in both games," he said. "We will see where we end up in terms of formation. One thing is related to another. Lewis offers further options playing from the channels coming in. We haven't seen him in this position yet, but he finds comfort in that position because played it before for Mainz. At the moment he's playing fantastically well. Hopefully we will continue to see him progress.
"It was this exact squad without Lewis that put us in the position where we are now. When you reach the January transfer market you've already played most of the teams so we are extremely confident for the rest of the season. What we can regret is conceding a couple of late goals that prevented us challenging for first or second."