|DATE||Saturday 21st March 2015|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
Bottom of the table Leicester City return to the ground where they
had one of their best wins this season - in the FA Cup - but this
time they come looking for points, sitting in a perilous position,
which needs addressing very quickly.
Spurs will also be looking to get back into winning ways, with a poor showing in a 0-3 defeat at Old Trafford last week. Harry Kane's inclusion in the England squad will surely be a boost to his already confident "break-through" season, but it will also make him a marked man, as we saw last week against Man. U.
Leicester appear to have been playing pretty well in games, but their fans say they haven't been getting much luck with results. They did beat Man U 5-3. They also grabbed points in draws with Everton and Hull City, but they need wins otherwise they will need snookers soon. Their last win was the FA Cup tie here in January.
That game saw Spurs put in one of their "not turning up" performances. Despite going ahead, Spurs were guilty of only starting to play when it was too late and then succumbing to a late Schlupp goal. Spurs were indebted to Vorm for keeping the Foxes at bay, but he was culpable for their winner, when he dived under a bobbling shot. The other goal-scorer was Leonardo Ulloa, who is a player capable of finding the net with the ability to finish from difficult positions. He is tall and mobile, so will need to be watched carefully.
The other player of interest in their side is Riyad Mahrez. A tricky winger, with a good crossing ability, he also gets among the goals and this may be why Tottenham are being linked with a summer move for him. Alongside him in midfield, Danny Drinkwater has a hell of a shot on him and Esteban Cambiasso is a Champions League winner and Argentine international. While he is nicknames Cuchu (or "Old Man"), he has proved a decent signing for Leicester and it will be interesting to see how he shape sup against the more mobile Spurs midfielders.
Marc Albrighton, Matt James and Andy King are all hard-working players, who are able to contribute to the attack, but they are all much of a muchness and do not offer a lot different to each other. Obviously, Jeffrey Schlupp is a more threatening prospect, with an ability to beat players wide and then come inside to score. Attacking options include David Nugent, who has scored goals at most levels he has played at; Jamie Vardy, who has found it a little difficult in the top flight and Andrej Kramaric, who scored freely in the Croatian league, but hasn't had such a prolific time here.
What has really let Leicester down is their defence, with some sloppy play, they have cost the team points. Not a lot of blame can be attributed to the keeper Casper Schmeichel, but Mark Schwarzer and Ben Hamer have been guilty of letting soft goals in, with Christian Eriksen's free-kick at the Walkers Stadium being a case in point, where Hamer was caught out at his near post. Wes Morgan leads the defence from centre-half, but he can be slow and that doesn't help in dealing with Premier League strikers. Alongside him could be Matthew Upson, but this is less likely, as he has only made four appearances since coming back from injury in January. More likely is Robert Huth, who is on loan from Stoke City and is another coming back from a serious injury suffered after being out for a year until December 2014.
Danny Simpson, Marcel Wasilewski, Richie de Laet and Paul Konchesky make up the full backs at the club, although the Pole Wasilewski can also play in the middle of the back four. All four like to attack, when Leicester really need to concentrate on the defending, so I guess Nigel Pearson will be aiming to get his side to concentrate on not letting goals in, with the hope of snatching something on the break or from a set-piece.
As far as Tottenham are concerned, they have to go out to try and win all their remaining matches. With Manchester United and Liverpool suddenly putting runs together, we need to as well and it needs to start on Saturday. Leicester have been a welcome three points for most sides and Spurs need to ensure that they gain full points from this match, with the team as a whole owing the fans a performance after last week. The movement of players and the ball needs to be sharper and the tempo needs to be high from the start. It led to only one shot on target last week, with the need to test the Leicester defence uppermost, that needs to be improved drastically.
I think it will be a case of
Leicester coming for a point, but Spurs trying to break them down
and so it won't be much of a match, but I take Tottenham to win in
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 2 Leicester City 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Roberto Soldado's knee knock is Tottenham's only injury worry, with the rest of the squad all fit.
LEICESTER CITY TEAM NEWS :
Dean Hammond (calf) is ruled out of the match and an illness in the family means Anthony Knockaert will be missing.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
4 (2) Leicester City
Saturday 21st March 2015 Kick off 15:00
White Hart Lane
Kane 5m 40s
Kane 12m 03s
Kane (p) 63m 43s
Schlupp (o.g.) 84m 23s
Vardy 37m 17s
Morgan 49m 01s
Nugent 89m 45s
Chadli (simulation) 32
Rose (kicking ball away) 78
Nugent (persistent fouling) 48
|Crowd : 35,950||Weather : Overcast, chilly|
|Referee : Mike Dean (The Wirral)||Assistant Referees : Mr. S. Long; Mr. M. Wilkes|
|Fourth Official : Darren Bond||-|
|Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + 8 minutes.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Leicester City :||kit|
LLORIS (c) (12
Michel VORM 4)
Mousa DEMBELE 88)
Andros TOWNSEND (
18 Harry KANE
|Manager : Mauricio Pochettino||Manager : Nigel Pearson|
|Sponsor : China Youth Football Development||Shirt sponsor : King Power|
|Kit Supplier : Under Armour||Kit Supplier : Puma|
Tottenham would not win any prizes for fortitude in defence, but might for giving their fans heart attacks, letting a two goal lead slip and then letting Leicester City get into the game in the last minute of the normal 90 before holding out to win 4-3 in what was a major boost to the team, spearheaded by Harry Kane's hat-trick.
The team that Mauricio Pochettino now regards as his strongest and will probably feature for the remainder of the games subject to injuries or suspensions took to the field to start this match, but they were not to finish it. Within a minute of the kick off, the ludicrous interpretation of the offside law led to Hugo Lloris sustaining an injury and having to leave the field on a stretcher with a gashed leg. Vardy was allowed to play on long after he received the ball in an offside position on the left wing, with the linesman's flag raised well before Dean whistled for the offence. By then, Kyle Walker had slid in to challenge Vardy as he moved in on goal and his impact with Hugo left the French keeper with a cut on his knee.
On came Michel Vorm for his Premier League debut, with his last outing at the Lane having been against Leicester City in the FA Cup, when he managed to let a last minute shot from Schlupp bounce over his dive to concede the winner. A nervous few minutes ensued with high balls into the box seeing the Dutchman stick to his line and when the ball was sliced up in the air over the Spurs six yard box, he again failed to dominate his box and come for it. Nugent had a headed chance, but it was blocked and luckily, Tottenham are more confident going forward. Kane made a run into the left wing and clipped a pass into the box for Danny Rose to chest down left side of the near post, but as he looked to bring it down, Wes Morgan nicked it away from him for a corner. Eriksen played the ball in, but it came low to the near post, where Eric Dier flicked in into the middle with the outside of his foot as he ran towards the ball. The speed on it took the keeper Schmeichel by surprise and all he could do was palm the ball out ... straight to where Harry Kane was standing and the striker side-footed the ball into the net through Esteban Cambiasso's legs to open the scoring and put another notch on his goal-scoring tally.
From the off, David Nugent and Jamie Vardy had proved overly physical opponents. Nugent barged over Rose before Lloris was injured after the full back had played the ball away and later in the half, Vardy elbowed Dier in the head when they went in for an aerial challenge. Such niggly tactics, often including Ulloa, continued throughout the game, as Leicester had to rely on that to disrupt Tottenham's game. But it did unsettle Spurs and Nugent had an opportunity when Ulloa played Nugent through the middle and he took an early shot from 35 yards out, trying to surprise Vorm, but the Tottenham keeper was running back and managed to turn to throw an arm out to stop it, but he was a long way over to the right of his goal and a shot to the other side would have seen him struggling.
Within a couple of minutes Tottenham found themselves 2-0 ahead with Kane hitting the net again. When Leicester gave the ball away near the halfway line inside their own half, there looked little danger, but Andros Townsend put Walker away on the right and his low pull back was diverted away from goal by Robert Huth. As the lumbering centre-half got up, he found the ball smacking him in the head, as Kane had got to the loose ball and drove at goal. The deflection took the ball to the other side of the goal to where Schmeichel had been standing and it bounced high into the roof of the net to give Spurs a useful lead.
Kane was at it again a minute later, with a shot from inside the box on the left that beat the keeper, but he didn't beat the linesman's flag, raised for offside. When Spurs went forward again, the move broke down and the ball was played wide right to Nugent, who ran forward. Vertonghen had to come over to challenge him and force a shot that was from a tight angle and went across Vorm and out for a throw-in on the other side of the pitch. Vorm was called into action, but only to catch a soft header from Morgan, but when Spurs went on the attack again, it carried much more threat. Eriksen picked up a ball inside from the left by Rose, who beat Nugent to it and the Dane danced past challenges all the way across the 18 yard line until he was past the D and let fly with a low shot across the goalie and was denied by the post. The ball came out into the area and Chadli got there first but was leaning back and skied his shot way too high.
Leicester's attacks were foundering on the edge of the box, as Spurs defenders got in the way or passes were over-hit, but breaking away Chadli made strides into the box before being challenged and ended up getting a booking for a dive, when Dean was letting much more go without punishment. Eriksen played a pass straight into Morgan's gut and the ball was played wide right to Nugent, who took the return and ran forward, into the space left by Danny Rose. There was no cover and with Vardy joining in the attack, the ball across the box from the right was into his path and he didn't have to break stride to drive the ball past Vorm from ten yards out.
It was a sloppy goal to let in (yet again this season) and almost led to Spurs going in at half-time level, as it needed a Ledley King style perfectly timed tackle from Danny Rose to prevent Nugent reaching Vardy's low ball in from the left wing first. In fact, Rose was winning more than his fair share of headers from Leicester crosses, which is a feat for someone of his height. One he didn't get on the end of, Ulloa did, but he put it over when he should have hit the target in added time at the end of the half.
Nigel Pearson had spotted that Matthew Upson is an old donkey and was getting burned on the left side of his defence, so he took him off at half-time and brought on Polish mime artist Marcel Wasileski to firm up the back four. Nugent finally got booked just after the restart for totting up a large number of fouls, but his role as a striker was soon to be questioned, when he played the ball right to Ulloa, who beat a defender to pull a low ball back in front of goal and Nugent muffed the chance form a couple of feet out. Not many people will thank me, but it was a good piece of defending by Walker, who got goal-side of the forward and blocked the ball, taking it over the bar. It was only brief relief, as the ball was swung in from the corner on the Leicester right and unmarked, Wes Morgan stooped to head the ball into the net from eight yards out in the 50th minute. It was another poorly defended set-piece and the management will need to work on our defensive resilience if we are to progress next season.
In this phase of the game, every time a blue shirt hit the green grass, the man in black gave a free-kick. This suited the Foxes, who were slyly winning dead-ball situations, but Dier, Vertonghen, Walker and Rose were more aware of winning the first ball from them after the equaliser. When they missed one, Huth met it with his forehead, but directed it wide of the goal. Meanwhile, Spurs were probing the visitors' defence, with the use of the full width of the pitch, but it was a mistake by Nugent that helped Tottenham back into the lead. A ball intended for Rose was intercepted by the City striker, but his control let him down and the ball wriggled out of his feet. This allowed Rose to toe it away from him and as he did so, Nugent barged him down inside the box. Pearson thought it was a soft penalty, as did most of the Match of the Day 'experts', but Nugent knew what he was doing, as he had lost the ball and realised Rose was past him and in on goal, or at least a position to create a chance. As it was, the Leicester side moaned to the referee so long and then Schmeichel took an age to get back onto his line, only to be picking the ball out of his net moments later, as Kane sent the ball to the keeper's right, while he dived left. That left the Spurs and soon-to-be England forward claiming his first Premier League hat-trick in another impressive display.
Having come back to 2-2, would Leicester be able to repeat the feat ? Well, no, as they were pushed back with Tottenham pressing forward. Eriksen almost threaded a ball through to Mason, but the keeper was out quickly to grab it and then Chadli dinked a cross in from the left that Kane met with a stretching volley, but he wasn't able to control it and the ball went over. Then, with 20 minutes left, Eric Dier tenaciously won the ball near the halfway line with two tough tackles, then went on a run down the left wing and produced a low cross that evaded everyone in front of goal, but made it to the far post, where Nacer Chadli met it with a shot that cleared the bar. It was the second effort in the game that could have been kept down and got on target to test the keeper at the very least.
Vorm was growing in confidence and came to grab some crosses, but Rose was booked for kicking the ball away when a free-kick had been conceded down by the corner flag on his side. From it, Wasileski headed over the bar from another free header. There were ten minutes left when Kane won a tackle on the halfway line and it put Eriksen in, who passed to Paulinho and in the end, Mason had a shot that was blocked, but the ball could have been worked better to make the most of the numerical advantage. Kane and Eriksen almost created a chance before Schlupp blocked a cross, but the intervention he made in the 85th minute was crucial for Spurs. Chadli laid off a good pass into Paulinho from the left wing and the Brazilian wasted no time in playing the ball past Morgan and into the path of Eriksen just inside the area. He prodded the ball towards goal, but Schmeichel had closed him down and saved the ball with his chest. Schlupp was running back to challenge and the rebound hit him and went towards goal, but he sprinted after it, but only succeeded in knocking the ball into the side-netting inside the goal and Spurs were 4-2 ahead. It was the sort of move that the team should be playing more often to catch defences sleeping.
Spurs looked to have wrapped up the points, but that is never certain with Tottenham and a long clearance from the keeper was headed on by Vardy and Nugent muscled Vertonghen off the bouncing ball and then struck a low shot taken early past Vorm's right hand to make it 4-3 with three minutes added time left. You could guess that the ball would be pumped into the box and Walker did well to get his head to one deep cross, but suddenly, the ball was played forward to Paulinho, who played a good cameo after coming on as a sub and Schlupp was there to nick it off him for a corner. Tottenham didn't get the opportunity to take it, as unusually, Dean blew the whistle before the corner could be taken and the game was over.
Eriksen commiserated with Schmeichel, as did Kane, who had a loan spell at the Foxes, while Rose approached Kane indicating that while he had the match ball, he had only scored twice !! I am not sure that Harry was going to let go of it in a hurry and found it hard to do his round of clapping the crowd with it under his arm. He had better get used to it, as it won't be his last.
Three points was hard-earned today and we made Leicester look like world beaters at some points in the game. With our 50th goal of the season being our fourth, only four teams have scored more than us, but conceding our 45th meant that only four teams have let in more too. The leaking of goals has hampered where we want to be this season and it must be rectified, with the defence tightening up, but while we continue to try and out-score the opposition, there will be games where we come unstuck. Luckily today, Leicester were not a side containing sufficient quality to do that and their Championship tactics might work at that level, but they need to be a bit smarter in the Premier League.
It might be another season at least before they get a chance to put that into practice.
Leicester City were formed
after an American buy out in 1892 and they played for a number of
years under the name of Liecester Fozzy, showing the influence of
their new owners in terms of pronunciation and love of the Muppets.
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|What you thought|
|Benny The Ball||
Song of the day courtesy of the Good Doctor ... "Down with King
Richard, You're going down with King Richard." !!
|Other scores during this week :|
|Aston Villa||0||Swansea City||1||Saturday|
|Manchester City||3||West Bromwich Albion||0||Saturday|
|Stoke City||1||Crystal Palace||2||Saturday|
|West Ham United||1||Sunderland||0||Saturday|
|9||West Ham United||30||11||9||10||39||38||42||+1|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||30||8||9||13||27||39||33||-12|
Position before match :
Position after match : 7th
Position after the weekend : 7th
* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.
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