Tottenham will be looking to get their outside title challenge back on track with a victory over Leicester City. Both teams are currently in the top four, therefore it isn’t a foregone conclusion that Spurs will be able to get back to winning ways. They will be coming up against a very good Foxes’ team, who have a point to prove themselves following a disappointing loss to Everton. Despite being the home team, it could be a fixture that Jose Mourinho asks his team to sit deep and use the counter-attack to hurt Leicester. It could be the pick of the weekend matches, as it will tell us, either way, whether Tottenham can be contenders.
The midweek fixture was disappointing for Spurs, with Mourinho suggesting that the best team lost at Anfield. That might seem wrong to many, as Liverpool dominated the game. However, Tottenham did manage to restrict them to low percentage chances, with no big chances conceded. Meanwhile, they managed to create four themselves. Steven Bergwijn and Harry Kane both had golden chances to win the match, but they didn’t take them. In hindsight, it was nearly the perfect Mourinho performance, but profligacy in front of goal cost them a huge win. Although it suggested progress, the Portuguese manager will know that it is only the result that matters.
Leicester City are quickly becoming an established member of the top six, having spent the majority of the past 18 months in those league positions. Brendan Rodgers has done an excellent job since taking over at the club. This season, the challenge was to balance the Europa League campaign with the Premier League remaining a priority. Due to the current pandemic, there are fewer rest days for clubs in European competition, therefore the challenge has become even harder for the Foxes. However, they are managing it well and are well placed heading into the Christmas period. A positive result this weekend will remind the top clubs that they shouldn’t be discounted.
Son Heung-min has now scored 11 Premier League goals this season. This already matches his tally from the previous campaign.
Leicester City have conceded seven times from corners this season. In the entirety of last season, they only conceded five times from these situations.
It does seem to be that Son Heung-min is the key man in big away matches, while Harry Kane becomes more prominent at home. This is a fixture that the England captain loves, with 16 goals in 14 matches across all competitions against Leicester, one of which came on loan at Millwall. In his last six Premier League appearances against the Foxes, he has scored ten times. Last season, he scored in both fixtures. Based on this record, it is difficult to pick any other player out as the key man this weekend. Despite their strong league position, Leicester have lost three of their last five league matches and there has been a vulnerability in defence. This is a big fixture that will have big ramifications for how Tottenham are going to be viewed going into 2021. Kane will understand this and look to deliver a match-winning performance. With nine goals and ten assists to his name already this season, the striker is full of confidence and likely to have a big part to play in this top of the table clash.
The Nigerian midfielder will be vital for the rest of the season, now that he has returned to action. There are few better in the league at doing what he does, as shown during the defeat to Everton. He was fielded in at centre-back, which isn’t his best position. However, he continued to impress and did play well, despite the loss. Ndidi won all six of his attempted tackles and ended the match with a 92% pass success rate. In this fixture, Rodgers should look to deploy him on Kane and look to shut down the England striker every time he gets on the ball. One of Tottenham’s most frequent patterns of play is to get Kane on the ball around the halfway line allowing him to turn and play dangerous through balls to onrushing team-mates. It has happened time and time again, therefore opposition managers will be aware of the threat it can pose. Ndidi is one of the few players who can man mark Kane effectively and it could be one of the battles that decides this weekend’s fixture either way.
Gareth Bale could be in contention to return to the squad and could have a part to play as a substitute. There could be some rotation with Tanguy Ndombele, Matt Doherty and Sergio Reguilon all potential starters. Erik Lamela and Japhet Tanganga remain on the sidelines.
Jonny Evans will be back to start for the visitors following his suspension. Timothy Castagne could be in line to feature at some stage following injury. There is hope that Ricardo Pereira and Caglar Soyuncu will be back playing before the end of the year, but this match will come too soon.
This is going to be another clash of styles, as Brendan Rodgers likes his team to dominate the ball. Mourinho will have no issue allowing Leicester to have the majority of possession, as he knows that his team can threaten on the counter attack. After dropping points in the last two matches, Tottenham need to return to winning ways to re-establish their position in the title race. They should have the quality to pick up three points, despite the obvious quality of Leicester City.
Tottenham 2-1 Leicester City