Tottenham have an opportunity to get their top four challenge back on track, even if their supporters will be doubting their credentials. They have now lost four of their last five matches and will be hoping to avoid another defeat when they face Leeds United on Saturday. The home have their own issues after a heavy defeat to Liverpool in the week. There will be growing fears of relegation. A loss for either team would be devastating this weekend.
There are rumours that Leeds and Marcelo Bielsa could be destined to part ways at the end of the season. The South American only ever signs a one year contract, as he likes to regularly assess his working arrangement. It has been a tough season for the Yorkshire club, as injuries have hit the playing squad. They have been unable to call upon Patrick Bamford for most of the campaign, while other stars from last season have failed to hit their previous heights. Although they are in a relegation battle, there will be belief that there is enough talent to steer clear of the drop. Another loss on Saturday will increase the pressure felt at Elland Road though.
The explosive comments from Antonio Conte after the loss to Burnley suggest that there are some issues behind the scenes in North London. The Italian is known for being a demanding head coach and he may be feeling that the hierarchy don’t share his ambition to challenge for major honours. He is an emotional manager and it could just have been a reaction to the loss. The top four does seem to be a tough ask from their current position, but they should have the quality to do well against one of the worst defences in the league on Saturday.
Since their return to the Premier League, Leeds have lost 16 of their 22 matches without Kalvin Phillips.
Antonio Conte has lost four of his last five Premier League matches. That is as many as he suffered in his previous 21 games.
The Brazilian is the one world class operator in the Leeds team. Bielsa will need him to perform at a consistent level during the rest of the season. There has been a strange dropping of the winger recently, but he is back in the team and it would be a surprise if he didn’t retain his place. There have been rumours linking the Brazilian international with bigger clubs including Chelsea and Bayern Munich in recent weeks. There is a belief that he will be playing in a top flight league next season, even if Leeds are not. That said, he won’t want a relegation on his cv. This season, he has contributed nine goals and two assists in the Premier League. He is the talisman for Leeds and will relish his chances against a Tottenham defence with little confidence.
The Tottenham attacker looks to be getting back to his best under Antonio Conte, even if the team’s form has been underwhelming. Many spoke fondly of his performance against Manchester City. It has been spoken about as one of the best individual performances in recent history. The England captain managed to score twice and play an excellent through ball in the build up to the opening goal. It has been a tough campaign for Kane, but it was a reminder of his quality. Tottenham will need him to be scoring regularly for the rest of the campaign if they are to compete for a top four finish. The weekend’s game should be a good match up for Kane as Leeds will give him space to operate in. The home side’s defence has been weak in recent weeks. Kane could be on the score sheet.
Robin Koch is a doubt for the weekend, while Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper won’t be back until March. Patrick Bamford and Diego Llorente remain on the sidelines.
Despite their poor recent form, Conte does have a near fully fit squad to select from. The only doubts are Oliver Skipp and Japhet Tanganga.
This should be an exciting game for the neutral, as neither side are in great form. There will be a desire to win the game from both managers, as neither are likely to retreat into their shells, despite poor form. Tottenham should have enough quality to get a win this weekend, especially as another defeat would increase the speculation about Conte’s long term future. Leeds’ defence doesn’t look strong enough to keep Tottenham out.
Leeds United 1-3 Tottenham