|OPPONENTS||Leicester City at Wembley|
|DATE||Sunday 10th February 2019|
For some reason, Leicester City fans have a thing about Spurs.
It's not unusual, as a lot of teams seem to hold a grudge against
us, without any real reason, with the Foxes' fans seemingly upset
that we had the temerity to challenge them for a long time in their
title winning season.
Prior to that, it was only a late winner in 1999 in the League Cup Final when Spurs had been reduced to ten men that they could hold against us. They are not local and they don't really challenge for anything that we do, so I am at a loss as to why they feel that way. It's not a big problem, as not many of their fans travel, so there will be few "happy clappers" there to get behind their team. Especially as they are having an up and down season so far. Wins over Man City and a point against Liverpool last week have probably been their high points, while the FA Cup exit to Newport County the nadir.
Manager Claude Puel is finding it tough since his move from Southampton. He is not the only one having had a difficult time following Rainieri after their big success, as even the Italian found it tough and was unceremoniously sacked shortly afterwards. He is trying to change the way they play, which is always tricky with an existing squad and then trying to get them to play a different way. Players like Vardy, Simpson, Morgan and Fuchs are no longer regulars, so, with Albrighton out for the season with a hamstring injury, it will be a fresh line-up from previous seasons that rock up at Wembley.Not all things will have changed. Expect Harry Maguire to shine in their defence, Schmeichel to kick non-existent mud off his boots for endless minutes, as he runs down time and Shinji Okazaki to work tirelessly up front with little support. There are skilful player sin the City squad, such as Chilwell, Gray and Maddison, all who have been linked with rumoured moves to Tottenham, with some in the media this week, as the product of lazy journalism puts them into their mind alongside the name Spurs, so put into print that they are moving to their opponents.
The midfield for the Foxes is a little bit samey. Maddison is the creator, while Mendy, Amartey and Ndidi are similar types. All hard working, but their passing is not in the same class as Kante, who they were brought in to replace. The loan singing of Youri Tielemens is probably designed to amend that problem and it will give Tottenham a good chance to look at the player they have been watching for a number of years since he broke into the Anderlecht team as a 16 year old.
With potential in the shape of Iheanacho, Ricardo Pereira, Rachid Ghezzal and Harvey Barnes, their is a need to be aware of the threat that they might pose. The win at their place earlier in the season was relatively straightforward and Leicester were a shadow of their former selves. They have had a tough season, losing their owner in the terrible helicopter crash at the King Power, so it has knocked some of their players back.
Spurs need to win to keep pushing towards the top of the table, but there will be a desire in the visitors' efforts to prevent that. Last season's 5-4 will be a long way from what will be on offer on Sunday. Without Harry Kane and Dele Alli, who both enjoy scoring against Leicester it will be difficult, but we have Son, who enjoys scoring against Leicester. The girt that Spurs have shown
If Llorente starts, the need to get good service into him is important and Rose will probably start on the left, with Aurier returning on the right. Fernando's battle with Maguire will be key and if he can lose him to match up on Evans, he might have more joy winning aerial battles and Son and Moura need to run at the defence, who lack positional sense once the ball is with the opposition. They have been poor generally, but the team do have a good record against the top six clubs.
on Wednesday, Pochettino will need to balance the use of the squad
to get the best from both games. I think Tottenham will get
the three points, but it won't be easy, as we have found out in the
last few weeks. If Eriksen is on form and we move the ball
quickly, Leicester are the sort of team who can get caught out on
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 3 Leicester City 1|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs will still be missing Harry Kane and Dele Alli, while Ben Davies is still recovering from a groin injury. Eric Dier (virus) and Vincent Janssen (knee) will also be missing from the Spurs squad
TEAM NEWS :
Mark Albrighton requires surgery on a hamstring injury, so will miss the rest of the season, while Daniel Amartey is missing with a broken ankle.
|Premier League||Kick off 13:30|
|Tottenham Hotspur 3 (1)||
Leicester City 1 (0)
Sanchez 32m 35s
Vardy 75m 03s
Son (simulation) 16
Rose (foul on Ghezzal) 20
Vertonghen (foul on Chilwell) 28
Tielemens (foul on Sissoko) 85
|Crowd : 44,154||Weather : Mild, some slight drizzle in second half|
|Referee : Michael Oliver (Northumberland)||Assistant Referees : Mr. Simon Bennett; Mr. Stuart Burt|
|Fourth Official : Lee Mason|
|Spurs kicked off and played towards the East end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + 8 minutes.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Leicester City :||kit|
Hugo LLORIS (c)
Kasper SCHMEICHEL (c)
|Manager : Mauricio Pochettino||Manager : Claude Puel|
|Sponsor : AIA||Shirt sponsor : King Power|
|Kit Supplier : Nike||Kit Supplier : adidas|
Football never ceases to amaze and confound in equal measures, with this 3-1 win over an enterprising, but sloppy Leicester City side at Wembley, as Spurs continue their seemingly endless run of undrawn games and keep nagging at the coat-tails of Liverpool and Manchester City. 3-1 flatters Spurs in the statistic that Leicester had 20 shots with nine on target, while we had to rely on scoring three out of our five on the Foxes' goal.
Unlike recent years, where the visitors have tried to time-waste while trying to hang onto leads they have grabbed like rabid dog thieves, this side came to out-play Spurs and with better finishing, they might have gone back to the East Midlands with more than a foxes' tail between their legs.
Pochettino will be so happy that the key moments in this game went Tottenham's way as they not only battled the blue shirted opponents, but also the frankly inept refereeing performance of one of the country's so called best referees. While not agreeing with the incident in the Champions League semi-final, Buffon's quote about Michael Oliver that he should be sitting in the crowd eating crisps sprung to mind. An early booking for Son for simulation set the tone, with Vertonghen also going into the book for a soft foul. But it was the inconsistency of Oliver's decision making that nearly cost Tottenham, with two chances in the first half for Barnes and Maddison started by the failure to give free-kicks for Maguire having both his arms wrapped around Llorente and then a foul on Eriksen by Chilwell before the ball was made available for two shots on goal, which luckily went wide. And that was also symptomatic of Leicester's game, as they spurned chance after chance.
Spurs started the game well, but Leicester were soon getting people around our box when we had goal-kicks and then getting nine men back behind the ball when we were on the attack. Not in a negative way, but showing good defensive organisation to try and deny Spurs space and time on the ball. A second minute shot by Trips was blocked for a corner and from it Oliver Skipp, re-instated in the side with Lamela dropping out with a back injury, fired in an effort that was blocked. Leicester had to make a late re-shuffle as Mendy picked up a knock in the warm-up and Ndidi took his place in midfield. With the number of corners and free-kicks Leicester were given, it was surprising that they didn't make a lot more of them, with Maguire's seventh minute free header powered at goal forcing Lloris to tip the ball over the bar.
Sanchez looked up for it today and produced a fine performance in keeping the lone Leicester striker - Gray - under his control and he looked more confident bringing the ball out than for a little while. Tottenham were keen to play the ball out from the back despite the press put on them and a move started there and went the full length of the field before fizzling out. In contrast, a long goal-kick by Hugo was headed on by Llorente and some neat passing fed Rose, who cut inside into the box and shot with his right foot, forcing Schmeichel to beat it out. On the half hour mark, Barnes had a great chance, when the ref allowed play to continue after a foul on Christian, but he dragged his shot wide of Lloris' right-hand post, with Dray offside and having to jump over the effort.
Llorente's hold-up play was good today and his touch seemed more sure, with some good passes that brought other players into the game. Balls into the box didn't really pick him out today, but when he linked with Eriksen and Son, the Korean won a corner as Maguire challenged in the box. Instead of playing the ball in, Trippier pulled it back to Eriksen on the right hand corner of the area. His measured ball in curled away from the keeper and Davinson Sanchez bravely put his head low to guide an unchallenged header wide of Schmeichel and into the net before the blue shirts appealed for offside, a foul or anything that might save them the embarrassment of a goal that demonstrated a lack of attention to marking. it might have come against the run of a play, but it was a goal that looked as if it had been constructed on the training ground and it paid off on the turf at Wembley.
Mousa Sissoko had the obligatory shot that flew into the crowd, which was possibly the only blot on an otherwise impressive performance similar to those we used to see from him when at Newcastle United that made us shell out on him in the first place. His driving runs bringing the ball away took Spurs into Leicester territory time and time again. He was quite often nudged or attempts to bring him down, but only one succeeded and earned a booking and that was for Tielemans in the second half. I'm not sure where the officials got two added minutes from, but Oliver did have to stop to explaining to a posse of Spurs players as to why he was giving such ridiculous decisions and while that only took 30 seconds, he could easily have been there all day trying to unsuccessfully convince them that he knew what he was doing.
Right at the end of that time, Tielemens had the ball out near the corner flag tight to the line. With nothing much on, he struck a wicked shot that had Lloris scrambling towards his near post to make sure it didn't creep inside and gave away a corner. I hadn't realised that Leicester had signed Roberto Carlos !! From it, the end result was Chilwell putting the ball into the side-netting and the half-time whistle went to the relief of Spurs fans, who roundly booed the officials off as they went down the tunnel.
The second half started with Tottenham looking a little slow off the blocks. Leicester looked sharper to the ball and were moving well off it. A Maddison cross flew across the face of goal, before Llorente had to stretch backwards to meet Trippier's cross and couldn't get it on target. When Pereira put in a good cross a free header from Gray was straight down the middle of the goal and Lloris took it to his chest gratefully. The same player then found Lloris again, with a shot after Barnes had squared the ball to him, with Hugo alert again as Chilwell tried his luck from outside the box. Things were not looking great and when the ball came into the box, Maddison cleverly got his body between the ball and Vertonghen, so that when a foot was stuck out, he made the most of the contact. Simulation or penalty ? Son or Maddison ? The ref decided Maddison had been fouled and pointed to the spot. There wa sa long delay, while Puel readied a substitution and like an NFL kicker, Jamie Vardy made his entrance to make his first kick of the game from the 12 yard spot. Lloris doesn't often save penalties, so hope was slim, but Rose had a word in Vardy's ear before he took the shot and he put it to Hugo's right. This time, the keeper went the right way and got both hands to the ball to push it wide for a corner. It wasn't the greatest of penalties, But Hugo guessed right and kept Spurs in the lead.
Within three minutes, the game had turned on that moment and Spurs were 2-0 ahead. When a clearance was played back to Pereira, he smacked the ball against Skipp, who was closing him down and the ball dropped for Eriksen. His forward pass into the penalty area picked out Llorente and the Spaniard returned the favour, setting up a shooting opportunity from the left edge of the D on the penalty box. Christian sized it up, with Pereira back in front of him and his shot was placed wide of the defender, inside the post and tantalisingly out of reach of Schmeichel's despairing dive to his right. It was a perfectly placed shot that brought relief in the Spurs ranks after Leicester had battled back into the match, but 2-0 and 63 minutes gone, it looked like a tough ask for the Foxes to dig something out of the game.
They nearly did, when Vardy set up Barnes, who was running forward to his left and was alone moving into the box, but hsi low shot was kept out by Lloris' left leg (a la de Gea) when it looked odds on that the Leicester youngster would score. And he would have if he had lifted it instead of shooting low. With Pochettino bringing on Alderweireld for Skipp and moving to three at the back, it seemed to invite the opposition onto our last third, so that the addition of Iheanacho was an attacking move that saw them pushing Spurs further back. The ball was regularly being passed around the 18 yard line and when it was spread from left to right, Pereira put in a low ball into the six yard box and Vardy got in front of Toby to nudge it over the line from close range to give Leicester a lifeline with fifteen minutes left. It was the sort of goal that gave Tottenham supporters the last fifteen minutes they weren't hoping for.
Leicester were a different side with Vardy on the pitch and he flashed a shot on the turn just wide of the goal, striking Pereira's low right wing cross first time, with Lloris unable to move. It would have been a gaol if it had been on target. Iheanaho was next, taking the ball into the box but only finding the side-netting to the excitement of the Leicester fans, who thought it was rippling the inside of the net. A late corner looked as though it might cause some panic, but it was cleared and Sissoko made another strong run from his own box to the halfway line before being fouled by Tielemens, who got a booking. The Belgian loan midfielder had a decent game and I would have thought a move for him in January would have been good cover for Eriksen to be rotated until the end of the season. It was his pass that put Pereira in for the cross that lead to their goal too.
It wasn't all Leicester and when Rose was freed on the left to burst into the area, Maguire blocked him, with Danny going down and asking for a penalty in what might have been a nervy moment, with him picking up a yellow earlier in the game. He was struggling and with Wednesday's Champions League game in mind, Pochettino brought on Kyle Walker-Peters in his place. The visitors brought on Okazaki for the disappointing Barnes, as they went for an equaliser.
Set-pieces are always a danger with the \foxes' tall central defenders going forward, but with a minute left, Lloris claimed one and when they next attacked, a lazy low cross in from their left pulled back by Chilwell only found Sissoko and his pass out found a Spurs player. There had been a lack of a receiver to passes out of our defence since Vardy scored and the ball had kept coming back. But not on this occasion. It picked out Son twenty yards inside the Spurs half, when Ndidi missed an interception. Taking the ball forward, he had nobody between him and the goal ! Almost out on his feet by putting so much into closing down, Son was pursued by Evans and Pereira, but made a run across where Evans would have been able to tackle if he had been able to catch up with the Korean. As he reached the 18 yard box, he struck a low left foot shot to Schmeichel's right and buried it in the net before sinking to his knees in celebration and relief. It was such a calm finish after running that distance and having all that time to think what he would do with it.
Even though there were only about three minutes of added time left, Leicester had a corner and Chilwell won a far post header that Lloris saved, diving to his left to grab the ball and then rushed out to claim a through pass to claim the ball at Vardy's feet to eek out time.
It was never going to eb easy, but this Leicester approach was probably borne out of their tepid performance at their place, where they offered very little. They thought they would have a go and I think that if Vardy was on from the start, they might have got something, as they would have exploited the space behind our full backs, with the England striker's pace making the most of it. Our skipper made some crucial contributions to the win with two outstanding saves, but there were also important performances from Sanchez and Sissoko, who were part of the spine of the team. Winks worked tirelessly, Son ran the channels and Llorente is looking more part of the team than a bit part player now. Jan was a pillar of strength too, while Skipp kept things tidy and looked like he is settling into the side too. Both full backs worked the line well and while they were caught out a few times, others covered well. And finally, Christian Eriksen showed how important he is to the side, with a goal and an assist, where he hasn't been as involved as normal in recent matches.
Leicester looked a better side than Manchester United did here last month and had more chances, playing a more attacking game. They can consider themselves unfortunate not to have taken something from the game, but they did play into our hands a little bit, especially with the last goal which saw Son run away as he had done against Chelsea here to score a lung-buster of a goal.
Three more points and with Manchester City thrashing Chelsea on the way home from the match, it leaves us in third still, but still in touch. Coming from behind is a position that Spurs have become accustomed to over the last few years, but all we can do is keep winning and hope the others slip up. Wherever we end up, as Pochettino said post-match, the team will all be heroes. Working on lesser resources than the teams ahead of us and with injuries removing players from the side almost all season, it has been a tremendous effort. Let's see where the ride takes us !
Davinson Sanchez's goal
was the 147th different Premier League goal-scorer for the club,
making them the highest number of different goal-scorers, equal with
West Ham United London.
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|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||1||Burnley||3||Saturday|
|Crystal Palace||1||West Ham United London||1||Saturday|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers||1||Newcastle United||-||Monday|
|League Table 2018-19|
|10||West Ham United London||26||9||6||11||32||39||33||-7|
|14||Brighton & Hove Albion||26||7||4||13||28||39||27||-11|
Position before match : 3rd
Position after match : 3rd
Position after the weekend : 3rd
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