April 17, 2015

Tottenham Hotspur can get a monkey off their back on the final day of the season when they face Newcastle United at St James' Park.

Spurs have finished above every team in the Premier League at some point in the last two decades. Every team, that is, except for neighbours and fierce rivals Arsenal.

Mauricio Pochettino's side (19-13-5) have picked up just two points from their last three games, keeping alive the possibility they could one again finish below the Gunners despite a terrific season.

Arsenal's unique online fan base coined the term "St Totteringham's Day" for the moment in the season their club was assured of finishing above their rivals, and defeat for Spurs against Newcastle would leave Arsenal needing victory against lowly Aston Villa to leapfrog into second in the season's final throes.

But while Tottenham manager Pochettino is keen to wrap up second spot, he believes the focus on Arsenal is not good for the club.

"I don't care about Arsenal," Pochettino said. "Sure I want to be above them, but this is normal. We need to concentrate on us and not what is happening with our neighbours."

Tottenham will have been boosted by Thursday's news that Pochettino has agreed a contract extension through 2021, ending speculation that he will leave the club this summer.

"I could not be happier to sign this new contract," Pochettino said in a statement released on the club's official site. "It was an easy decision for my coaching staff and I, because we can feel the appreciation of everyone here - there is no better place to be right now."The supporters are unbelievable and we have assembled a great group of players with huge potential that can get even better. We have enjoyed a great season and we believe this is just the beginning. This club has all the ingredients to continue to challenge at the very top in both the Premier League and in Europe and we want to be here to be a part of what I believe will be a special period in the club's history."

Sunday's hosts Newcastle (8-10-19) were hoping to have survival to fight for on the final day, but Wearside rivals Sunderland's 3-0 win over Everton on Wednesday evening consigned the Magpies to relegation for the second time in eight seasons. Rafa Benitez had a positive impact at the club since his arrival in the spring, but even an unbeaten run of five games leading into the concluding weekend wasn't enough to save the club from the drop.

"We are devastated at our relegation from the Premier League, as I know every single person connected to this football club will be," said managing director Lee Charnley in a statement released Wednesday evening. "We know that supporters want to know what the future holds and will want to hear more from us as soon as possible. The process of scrutinising what went wrong and planning for what is to come has already begun.

"Right now, of course, Rafa and the team must prepare for the final game of the season but after that, please rest assured we will communicate more fully with the supporters."

The immediate focus for Newcastle will be trying to retain Benitez despite being in the Championship since the Spaniard had a release clause worked into his contract should the Magpies slip to the second tier upon his arrival. Whether there are any front-office changes after spending £80 million on new players for this season is yet to be determined.

Goalkeepers Rob Elliott, Tim Krul remain out for Newcastle, while centre back Fabricio Coloccini is a doubt.

Tottenham have concerns over the fitness of Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld, while central midfielder Nabil Bentaleb continues his recovery from a knee injury. Fellow Spurs midfielders Mousa Dembele and Dele Alli are suspended.

Newcastle have won just one of their last five Premier League home matches against Tottenham, while Pochettino's side have lost just one of their last 17 top-flight away matches.

The Magpies rallied for a 2-1 victory at White Hart Lane in the reverse fixture as Aleksandar Mitrovic scored on 74 minutes shortly after his introduction to tie the contest and assisted on Ayoze Perez's match-winner deep in second-half stoppage time.

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