IT IS that time of the year when the Premiership schedule is loaded, as the games come thick and fast and the tempo rises just as quick.
Newcastle’s visit to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the late kick-off tomorrow is one of them, and it holds promise of an intriguing clash between two clubs that both harbour huge ambitions of finishing in the top four next May.
The Magpies are seventh on the log despite crashing to a heavy 0-3 defeat at Everton on Thursday, while Spurs are fifth, notwithstanding the home defeat to West Ham United.
Tottenham started this campaign with a vengeance. They were unbeaten in their first 10 league matches after Ange Postecoglou took over in the off-season.
But things have been awry since then. However, they still have every chance of making the top four.
Given their targets, both sides will know how important it is not to lose to one of the sides also bidding for a top-four finish.
Newcastle, one would think, have a slight edge going into battle in London. They won the last two fixtures before they crashed to a rejuvenated Everton outfit.
The Toffees were languishing third off the bottom, two points off last-place Sheffield United. They are lifting themselves out of the relegation zone with the win over Newcastle.
Half of the reason the Toffees find themselves in this predicament is because they had 10 points deducted for breaching the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules.
Eddie Howe’s Magpies will be out to bounce straight back with victory tomorrow after that loss to Everton. It would certainly do their confidence no harm and move them closer to fourth place.
Howe has had to deal with a depleted squad for most of the season – ravaged by injuries.
Last weekend, they were dealt another huge setback when first-choice goalkeeper Nick Pope limped off in their triumph over Manchester United.
He is facing a four-month layoff after sustaining a dislocated shoulder.
In the absence of Pope, Howe turned to Martin Dubravka last Saturday. Loris Karius is the other keeper at St James Park.
But even without Pope in goal, many still expect Newcastle to see off Tottenham tomorrow.
Man United will be expected to do the same when Bournemouth visit Old Trafford today.