After a nervy second half performance, Tottenham, with some luck from the crossbar, edged out a 2-1 win over Newcastle United at St. James Park.
As usual, the first game of the season is always a difficult one for every team. For Spurs, it was no different.
Here are three things we learned from their 2-1 win:
1. Playing Harry Kane is necessary, but playing him to full fitness may present an issue
When Kane isn’t carrying an injury, it makes no sense to keep him on the bench. The English forward scored 30 goals in the Premier League last season. But playing him when he isn’t at full fitness could be a problem, especially not having a full preseason to find his form.
Throughout the match, Kane looked second best in all areas of the pitch.
He misplaced many passes and lacked the pace to get in behind Newcastle’s defense. He didn’t even get a shot on target.
To his credit, he lead the press and held the ball up well and brought players into the attack.
While they managed to get the win, Spurs will need to hope Kane gets to full fitness as soon as possible. A fully-fit Kane is a menacing prospect for any defense to handle.
2. Serge Aurier is clearly Spurs’s #2 rightback
While he delivered an imperious cross to Dele Alli to create Spurs’s second goal, Serge Aurier is still a liability in their back line.
The first problem was his positioning.
Aurier was caught out of position many times throughout the match, most notably when he didn’t track the run of Newcastle winger Kenedy.
If it wasn’t for Lloris, the home side would have leveled it at 2-2.
He also failed to get back into position when his clearance found Jonjo Shelvey and let Mohamed Diame get a shot off that hit the post.
Second was his passing.
Aurier misplaced many passes in the match and let Newcastle get an opportunity on the counter. He failed to establish a link in attack between him and Moussa Sissoko on the right-hand side of the pitch.
His performance shows that he is still second on the pecking order to Kieran Trippier.
3. Jan Vertonghen continues to be at his imperious best
Arguably the best centerback in the Premier League last year, Belgian international Jan Vertonghen was at his usual best against Newcastle.
He never put a wrong foot in tackles, passed the ball with relative ease, and led the team with a quiet confidence at the back.
He scored his first goal in five years as goal line technology ruled that his header crossed the line.
He won four aerial battles, won for tackles, and had a 88% pass completion percentage.
While his stats were impressive, his demeanor on the pitch was just as admirable.
He never looked flustered, he remained calm in tight situations and never made a mistake when passing the ball out from the back or making that edgy clearance.
His block on Salomon Rondon’s shot, which later hit the crossbar, was the defining moment of the match.
His leadership and play also help Davinson Sanchez improve as well. He is cultivating a successful partnership at the back with the Colombian international.
Spurs will look to get three more points when they take on newly-promoted Fulham at Wembley Stadium this Saturday.