Alexander Isak double leads Newcastle in thrashing of toothless Tottenham

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Alexander Isak;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Alexander Isak</a> completes his double in <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Newcastle;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Newcastle</a>’s 4-0 win over Tottenham.</span><span>Photograph: Lee Smith/Action Images/Reuters</span>

At least it was not quite as bad as last year for Tottenham. Almost exactly 12 months ago, Antonio Conte’s interim managerial successor, Cristian Stellini, presided over a 6-1 defeat here that served to confirm things were seriously awry in north London and set in motion a chain of events concluding with Ange Postecoglou breathing new life into the team.

The Australian’s rescue and reform act remains a work in progress but seemed to be generally working pretty nicely, until Tottenham suffered a relapse on Tyneside sufficiently severe to threaten their hopes of Champions League qualification.

Related: Newcastle 4-0 Tottenham: Premier League – live reaction

Spurs arrived with many of their fans convinced Postecoglou’s refreshing brand of management was going a long way towards correcting deep-seated flaws and that Europe’s showpiece competition beckoned. They left with the “can we play you every week?” and “Tottenham Hotspur, it’s happening again” taunts of Newcastle supporters ringing in their ears.

As Eddie Howe’s injury-ravaged side emphasised their desperation to qualify for the Europa League, Alexander Isak seemed capable of pipping Manchester City’s Erling Haaland to the golden boot and Anthony Gordon looked set to book a place on England’s flight to Euro 2024 in Germany, Spurs were haunted by the ghosts of last April’s trip to Tyneside.

No matter Newcastle enjoyed a mere 27% of possession, an unusual tactical shift on Howe’s part proved thoroughly inspired as Postecoglou suffered the worst defeat of his Tottenham tenure.

When Newcastle’s manager swiftly pushed Jacob Murphy forward as he altered his formation from 4-3-3 to 3-4-3 it initially looked a high-risk strategy. But, after his side scored two goals in two minutes, it seemed as if Howe knew precisely what he was doing.

Both goals involved Micky van de Ven falling over at precisely the wrong moment. The defender’s first slip permitted Isak to direct a shot beyond Guglielmo Vicario’s reach, while the second allowed the impressive Gordon to send another shot curving into the back of the net from a tight angle as Newcastle pressed high and hard.

Hats off to Gordon for not merely that goal but also for shrugging off Destiny Udogie before supplying the Sweden striker with a beautifully calibrated pass before the opener when Isak was played onside by the unfortunate Van de Ven. Is there a better striker than Isak in England right now?

Gordon was incandescent when James Maddison went unpunished after blatantly bodychecking him, but for long periods that was about as close as any of Tottenham’s players got to the elusive winger. Isak, meanwhile, reprised his hallmark impression of a gazelle on casters and came close to scoring another couple of goals before half-time.

He and Gordon had certainly made a strong case for the argument that possession can be overrated. Spurs monopolised it but with Van de Ven enduring the sort of game in which calamity stalked his every intervention, it will be no surprise if his nightmares are inhabited by mortifying flashbacks of the two forwards outmanoeuvring him at every counterattack.

With Newcastle’s Elliot Anderson shining at left wing-back it got worse for Van de Ven and friends. When Bruno Guimarães bisected the backline courtesy of a routine lofted through ball, Isak was sent clean through with the slapdash Dutchman left trailing in his wake and only Vicario to beat.

The Swede made no mistake, scoring his 17th Premier League goal of the season and fifth in the past four games. Much more of this and Haaland could soon be overtaken in the race for top scorer.

  • Download the Guardian app from the iOS App Store on iPhone or the Google Play store on Android by searching for 'The Guardian'.

  • If you already have the Guardian app, make sure you’re on the most recent version.

  • In the Guardian app, tap the Menu button at the bottom right, then go to Settings (the gear icon), then Notifications.

  • Turn on sport notifications.

Perhaps anxious not to be upstaged, Emil Krafth hit a post but his accomplished central defensive partner, Fabian Schär, scored the fourth. Schär may not attract the same attention as Isak and Gordon but he ranks as another strong contender for Newcastle’s player of the season. He crowned another stellar afternoon by rising, unmarked, to head his side’s fourth from Gordon’s corner.

It spoke volumes when, during an altercation after the final whistle with Brazil’s Guimarães, the Argentinian midfielder Giovani Lo Celso displayed more aggression than anyone in a Tottenham shirt had exhibited over the preceding 90 minutes.