Tottenham Hotspur's Champions League hopes took a necessary step forward Sunday as it passed Everton for fifth place in the table.
Their pursuit of a top-four finish continues Wednesday when they head to St. James' Park to take on goal-starved Newcastle United, who will be going for their first double of the season.
Spurs (14-5-6) are within three points of Liverpool for a Champions League-qualifying spot, thanks to Emmanuel Adebayor's 65th-minute goal off a quick free kick from Kyle Walker in the 1-0 win over Everton at White Hart Lane. It was his team-leading sixth in nine starts this season.
"I'm happy, delighted, but not about the goal, about winning the game," Adebayor told the club's official website. "If someone else scored, I'd still be as happy. The most important thing is winning the game, not who scores. We knew it was going to be tough, we played against a good team in Everton. The key thing is to win and now we move onto the next one."
Tottenham have lost just once since Dec. 22, a 6-2-1 span, and while the result against Everton was pleasing, the team's form, especially early, was not. Manager Tim Sherwood sees it as an ongoing trend.
"I'm not pleased about how we are starting games," Sherwood said. "It's something we have to address and find out why."
Newcastle (11-4-10), meanwhile, need to figure out their scoring. The Magpies haven't scored in three straight matches since the departure of key playmaker Yohan Cabaye and have yielded clean sheets in six of their last seven top-flight matches.
The latest letdown was Saturday's 3-0 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and while the Magpies could probably use some time to get healthy, they're eager to get back on the pitch and correct consecutive three-goal losses.
"Chelsea are a big team who are trying to win the league this season, they played very well today, but we need to start thinking about the next game as soon as possible," midfielder Moussa Sissoko told the club's official website. "It is good that the Tottenham game is so quick because we can forget this game and think about winning again. Tottenham are a good team but at home we know we can beat anyone."
They haven't followed through on that lately. Their last goal in front of their St. James' Park following came in a 5-1 win over Stoke City on Boxing Day, and they've lost all three home games since.
The slide has Newcastle in eighth with 37 points, now 10 back of Tottenham for a European position. They'll likely have to try to recover without midfielder Cheick Tiote, who missed the Chelsea match with a hamstring injury and is expected to be out again against Spurs.
The Magpies will definitely be without Loic Remy. The club's leading scorer has one game remaining on a three-match suspension issued for an altercation at Norwich City on Jan. 28.
Newcastle won 1-0 on Nov. 10 at White Hart Lane on a 13th-minute goal by Remy. They now look to complete the double on their home pitch, where they last lost to Spurs in league play on Aug. 21, 2004. Since then, the Magpies are 5-2-0 at St. James' Park against the London club.
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- Tottenham Hotspur
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- Emmanuel Adebayor