BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
WEDNESDAY 13TH JANUARY, 2016
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0) LEICESTER CITY 1(0)
Referee:- Lee Mason
Assistants:- L. Betts & I. Hussin
Fourth official:- T. Robinson
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier (sub Onomah, 90), Carroll (sub Son, 82); Lamela, Eriksen (sub Dembele, 71), Alli; Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Rose, Trippier, Wimmer
Booked:- Dier (foul on Ulloa)
Leicester (4-4-1-1):- Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan (Capt.), Huth, Fuchs; Mahrez (sub Dyer, 90), Drinkwater, Kante, Albrighton; Okazaki (sub King, 77); Vardy (sub Ulloa, 71)
Subs not used:- Schwarzer; Wasilewski; Gray, Inler
Leicester on Claudio 9
On a rainy, cold, windswept night at White Hart Lane when both teams were seeking to assert their claim to place in this season's top four, and perhaps even more. It was Claudio Ranieri's Leicester City, who took the spoils thanks to a sucker punch goal scored from a corner by defender Robert Huth. Leicester, threatened with relegation last season, truly are on "Claudio 9", and after this result they sit equal top of the Premier League.
Both teams made sweeping changes to their line-ups, as anticipated after Sunday's drawn FA Cup game, and it was clear at the outset that Ranieri had not come to defend, with one of Sunday's goalscorers - Shinji Okazaki - playing in the number 10 slot, just behind Jamie Vardy. Mousa Dembele was held back on the bench, with Tom Carroll entrusted with the midfield role beside Eric Dier.
It was almost a full house, and the Leicester fans, although slightly less numerous than Sunday's away crowd, were very vocal. After Huth's goal, they were even chanting "We're all going on a European tour" and "We're gonna win the league". In truth, who can deny them their hopes, now they are 8 points ahead of fifth placed West Ham?
Spurs dominated possession on the night though, and started ever so well, playing their high press effectively, and keeping the visitors in their own half for most of the early stages. Lamela played on the right of the attacking midfield three, with Eriksen in the middle and Alli on the left. Alli was involved in virtually everything Spurs did in Leicester's half, but had great support from his team-mates. Both Davies and Walker got forward often and to great effect. I cannot fault the effort of any of our players.
Eriksen was onto an early long ball and tried a shot from 25 yards. The shot had little strength and was held easily by Schmeichel. Alli had a shot just wide from a ball crossed from the right after 5 minutes. A Spurs corner from the left was taken by Lamela, and met by Alderweireld, whose header went down and bounced up, but was pushed over by Schmeichel for another corner. After a third corner, Alderweireld had another header, but this passed clean over the target.
A Spurs attack led by Alli and Kane gave Dier a chance from distance, but he fired over. Two minutes later, Lamela had a chance at the back of goal, but this was blocked and cleared.
The game was played at a fast and quite relentless pace for most of the time. Despite Spurs' domination, Leicester were always ready to counter in numbers, and with threat. Spurs made a bit of a mess from a throw-in in their own half, with a ball hit short for Lloris. Okazaki nearly took advantage but hit his shot wide.
Leicester's star players, Vardy and Mahrez, were being kept quiet most of the time, but other un-sung players such as Albrighton, Drinkwater, or Kante were there to step in. A corner taken by Mahrez was struck by Okazaki, but blocked before Kante fired over.
After 25 minutes, Leicester had their best chance yet from another corner. Okazaki fielded the ball with his back to goal, and fed it back to Drinkwater,whose shot demanded one of Hugo Lloris's best saves, as he dived to his left.
Schmeichel was forced to reciprocate at the other end, after a Spurs corner and a touch by Harry Kane to Eriksen,whose right footed shot was well saved and ultimately cleared by the Leicester defence. Vertonghen sent a good ball to Davies, who fed it further down the line for Lamela. His cross was belted right across the goalmouth and went out for a throw in front of the West Stand. Schmeichel held a strong ball from the right by Eriksen, with Lamela threatening.
After the break, with Leicester playing towards their own fans, the Spurs goal was out under some pressure with several corners left and right. Drinkwater twice hit good shots which took a touch to win corners.
After 52 minutes, Eriksen sent Kane away down the right channel with a good ball, but Harry was unfairly stopped by the Leicester skipper, Wes Morgan. Referee Lee Mason deemed that "words" were sufficient, which was his policy most of the night. In fairness, the referee did seek to allow the game to flow, and contributed to the excitement of the game.
Davies was sent away down the left flank with a good pass, and he hit a good low and powerful cross. This was met by Lamela, whose effort took a slight deflection to pass outside the back post and to win a corner.
Kyle Walker was highly industrious and effective all night, but he made his one faux-pas on the hour, allowing Vardy to advance upon Lloris's goal. Hugo was out rapidly to the right of his area to beat Vardy to the ball. Kyle held his hand up in apology. Quite rightly too. Spurs did counter, and Carroll hit a shot just wide of Shcmeichel's left post.
A minute later Kane received a good penetrating ball from Lamela, and hit a shot which got a touch from the goalkeeper and hit the top of the bar. Dele Alli had a shot blocked after the corner. Another Kane shot took a deflection across goal to win another corner. At this stage, you sensed there was a goal in the offing for the home side.
Great determination by Kyle Walker gave Eriksen a chance to feed the ball to Alli, whose attempt passed across the goal.
Ranieri took off Vardy, perhaps feeling his recent groin injury. He was replaced by Ulloa. Pochettino introduced Dembele for Eriksen. Another powerful run down his flank by Ben Davies led to another good low cross, and another Lamela effort, which was just wide of the back post.
With fifteen minutes remaining, there was a great scramble in the Spurs goalmouth. The attack had started with Albrighton, and Leicester had three shots blocked or saved. These came from Mahrez, Drinkwater and Ulloa.
Okazaki was replaced by Andy King. Spurs had a good effort after great skill and a touch by Kane in the middle, finding Alli with his pass. Alli hit a right footed shot, which Schmeichel saved.
Eric Dier got the only yellow card of the night after a foul on Ulloa, and Tom Carroll was replaced by Son. Unfortunately, it was the away side who gained greater momentum, and after a somewhat cheap corner conceded near the flag by Dele Alli, Leicester scored the killer goal with a header from the back of the area by Huth, allowed too much room, hitting the net to the right of Lloris.
Spurs never quite recovered, and have to lick their wounds before facing Sunderland on Saturday lunchtime. Now that really is a game we must win to hold onto our top four place.
As for Leicester, the dream of an "unfashionable" club winning the Premier League title is surely on. Our FA Cup replay in front of their "happy clapping" crowd next Wednesday will be a toughie.
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