Match date & time: Saturday 21st March 2015. 3pm GMT KO.
Competition: Premier League.
Venue: White Hart Lane.
TV: Not televised live in the UK. Worldwide TV schedule found HERE.
After our disappointment in the Capital One Cup, our attention has quickly turned to making the best of the season we have left. Nine games left, with a chance, however unlikely it might be, of getting into those coveted champions League places. We sit 7th, six points off Manchester United in 4th, looking to take advantage of what looks like a favourable fixture against Leicester, while Manchester United travel to Liverpool on Sunday, and Southampton host the gutsy Burnley at St Marys. Our performances have varied since that Cup final disappointment; a great win over Swansea, then a solid victory away from home to QPR, and a very disheartening and disappointing 3-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, which was out of the blue in comparison with past performances both at Old Trafford and in general at this stage of the season. Now, after such an unacceptable and demoralising loss, we have to get back on the horse and attempt to elevate that performance level dramatically in a game against a struggling Leicester side, it is a real opportunity for a big and uplifting victory in front of the home faithful at White Hart Lane. A clean sheet and a few goals would do a world of good for the confidence and push to finish the season strongly and with purpose. We still have a lot to play for in these remaining nine games and I hope the players realise that, and believe that when taking the residual matches game-by-game, we can still be apart of that top four, but we would still need a mini miracle!
Leicester City are 20th, rock bottom of the Premier League, and manager Nigel Pearson is feeling the pressure with only 1 win in 10 Premier League games and no wins in their last 7 straight matches. It has been a struggle for the newly promoted Foxes, and it is looking nearly impossible for them to survive the drop, with Nigel Pearson’s job looking more and more uncertain after every lost match. Their last win, funnily enough, came against Tottenham at White Hart Lane in the FA Cup back in January, a disappointing 2-1 victory with a late winner for Leicester thanks to Jeffery Schlupp, and Michel Vorm. However, in the Premier League, in the reverse fixture at the King Power on Boxing Day last year, it was us who came out on top by the two goals to one, Harry Kane and a Christian Eriksen special getting us a great away victory. Hopefully we can repeat the feat at the Lane in the Premier League, and avoid a slip up like in the FA Cup. Our last Premier League fixture at White Hart Lane was back in 2004, a thrilling 4-4 draw, Jermain Defoe hitting the net twice, along with goals from Michael Brown and Robbie Keane. Goals has been an issue for Nigel Pearson and his team, only hitting more than 1 goal once in 10 Premier League games. A lack of firepower is the thing that could condemn the Foxes to relegation this season.
The team news for Leicester is that only midfielder Dean Hammond (calf) is out of the game, with Anthony Knockaert unavailable due to personal reasons, but other than Hammond and the unfortunate situation of Knockaert, Nigel Pearson has a fully fit squad to chose from, and I am sure that he will be looking for his team, fresh after a weeks rest and training, to perform to the standard he would want and recreate that FA Cup result. Leicester, although being out adrift at the bottom of the table, do have some good players offensively that can be a menace to defences, and one of those players is Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez, he has the tricks and ability to cause problems for opposition full backs, with a decent delivery and goal threat. Although on scoring 2 goals and assisting 3, which is below what you would expect from a good player like Mahrez, you could put that down to how the team as a whole has been performing; but he has the individual quality to be a thorn in the opponent, hopefully we can contain him, though. As well as Riyad Mahrez, on the opposite wing, Jeffery Schlupp also has the pace and trickery to cause problems for the opposition, he was the scorer of the winning goal in the FA Cup and his tendency to cut inside will make him more difficult to mark, hopefully he doesn’t get an opportunity to repeat that achievement this Saturday. He has 4 goals and 3 assists this season, which is a decent tally for a winger, and we have to make sure we stop the threats from the wings, as if we can do that, I think we stop the service to the strikers, and their firepower diminishes. In midfield, the evergreen Esteban Cambiasso has been brilliant for the Foxes this season, and he is the dictator, sitting in the midfield scattering passes and making the Leicester side tick, as well as being able to sit back and help defensively. He has 3 goals this season, and coming in late into the box he is a goal threat. Up top, both Andrej Kramaric and Leonardo Ulloa have the ability to score goals, with 11 goals between them, and that partnership up top with support from the quick and tricky wingers could be quite the goal threat. Hopefully that doesn’t come to fruition this Saturday, though.
The team news for Tottenham is that Roberto Soldado (knee) is the only absentee from the squad, with Ryan Mason recovering from a thigh injury suffered at Old Trafford. It’s great to have an almost fully fit squad, and hopefully after a full week of rest and training, we can be raring to go and recover some of our pride after the defeat in Manchester.
There is no doubting that we had a very bad day at Old Trafford, in which nobody played well, and individual mistakes sneaked back into our game making us too easy to beat and overpower. We gifted a result to United, and now, with a great chance of securing three points against the side bottom of the Premier League, we will be relying on our players to step up and perform to the level required of them. One player I would like to step up and take the game by the scruff of the neck, as the saying goes, is Christian Eriksen. His quality isn’t doubted but he sometimes has the tendency to disappear in matches and not make the impact he really is capable of. We need Eriksen to get on the ball as much as possible, as when he does, he can run the game and impact heavily on the result. His performance level has dropped, but hopefully he can regain that intensity in a crucial part of the season. His performance levels will definitely have an impact on how successful we are at the end of this season. Improvement is also expected from Kyle Walker, who had nothing short of a nightmare game against Manchester United; he needs to cut out the mistakes and be more effective and efficient offensively with his crosses and interplay with his right wing partner. Against Leicester, we are expected to have most of the ball, so I hope that Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason can also be effective and we can create enough chances to really impact on the game. We have to be positive on the ball and hopefully that can lead to victory! Oh, and I couldn’t write an article without mentioning Harry Kane! The service to him and support must improve; as good as he is, he can’t do it on his own. Against his former loan side, he’ll be looking to strike once again and lead us to victory.
Match stats provided by Opta:
– Five of the last seven meetings between Tottenham and Leicester in all competitions have ended with a 2-1 scoreline.
– There have been two meetings so far between these teams this season, both ending in 2-1 away wins (Spurs won the reverse Barclays Premier League game, while Leicester won in the FA Cup at White Hart Lane).
– Leonardo Ulloa has scored in all four of his starts against the two big north London sides Arsenal and Tottenham.
– Leicester City have won just one of their last 13 Premier League away games (W1 D2 L10).
– Tottenham are unbeaten in their last nine Premier League matches at White Hart Lane (W6 D3) and have lost just one of the last 15 home games in all competitions (W10 D4 L1) but that was to Leicester in the FA Cup.
– Spurs have recovered 16 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season, more than any other team.
– The Foxes have failed to score a first-half goal in any of their last seven Premier League games.
– Christian Eriksen has scored more winning goals than any other player in the Premier League this season (6).
– Esteban Cambiasso has scored three goals from just four shots on target for Leicester.
– Wes Morgan has blocked more opposition shots than any other Premier League player this season (39).
It’s another big game in the Premier League run in! Let’s get back to winning ways as fast as possible! It’s a great opportunity for us to get a good win over a struggling and under pressure Leicester side. A clean sheet and a few goals would do very nicely! The game is not televised live in the UK, but I will be updating as much as I can live from White Hart Lane, follow me on twitter for it all, here: @AddictedToSpurs. Let’s get three points! COYS!!
My predicted side to face Leicester at the Lane:
Walker – Dier – Vertonghen – Rose
Bentaleb – Mason
Lamela – Eriksen – Chadli
Mauricio Pochettino’s pre Leicester press conference: