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John Ellis's "third eye" report on Leicester v Spurs, 28.11.17

John Ellis is known to many Spurs fans and we have over 450 mutual friends on Facebook. I am pleased to add this "third eye" feature article written by "El Gringo". This time John offers his thoughts on our away defeat to Leicester.

John invariably comments after every Spurs game on his Facebook page, and I usually agree with everything he writes. That applies to John's detailed eye-witness report on this game, which is published below, with kind permission:-

Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

King Power Stadium

This mini slump of one point from nine has written off a third successive title challenge and if it continues for much longer will derail our chances of a top four finish.

These days most opposition regard any points against Spurs as something of a coup. In being aware of this, the team need to stamp their authority and class on proceedings early doors rather than turning up for the second half in an attempt to retrieve the situation.

As said previously, the team are starting matches too slowly and ponderously. Once the opposition get their noses in front, they sit deep, hit us on the break and resort to time wasting tactics. We are architects in our own downfall. Yes, with injuries to big players, the squad is a little thin and players may need a rest but there is enough quality on show to win these types of matches. After the glory of the four matches versus Real Madrid and Dortmund, I find myself questioning whether the players are finding it hard to "get up" for the more mundane bread and butter of the Premier League.

Having said that, last night was all about one team being clinical in front of goal and the other being wasteful.

The Spurs fans songs about Jamie Vardy's wife in the jungle came back to bite them. Vardy ran off the back of Sanchez from a diagonal left wing cross and executed a sublime dinked volley over the head of the stranded Hugo Lloris into the net. It was a finish of the highest order.

Message to ourselves, wait until we are three up with ten minutes to go before riling the opposition!

This set the tempo for the match. Leicester gave Spurs possession and territory. They defended deeply and on winning possession, hit Spurs on the break with fast, threatening, counter attacking football which in the first half also contained some slick passing through the midfield.

Nevertheless, Spurs were bound to come back... weren't they? Well, that was certainly the feeling as they knocked and knocked on the door. Half chances were being created and finally the Leicester defence was unlocked by Kane for an incoming Sissoko to level the scores but instead he fired a gilt edged chance straight at the keeper. A great chance spurned. Kane then turned provider for Dele who couldn't fire home either.

Frustrations were beginning to show. Vertonghen played a pass behind Rose which went out for a throw. It seemed to be Jan's error and yet he let out a volley at Rose and moments later flew into a challenge to pick up a yellow card. It brought back memories of the unhappy, sour faced player under Sherwood. He is certainly not at his best at the moment; maybe missing his partner Alderweireld.

The same can be said of Eriksen who is a shadow of himself since his World Cup qualifier exploits.

As the first half wore on, the Spurs fans became increasingly frustrated at the slow backwards and sideways tempo and began to let their feelings known. They also became frustrated with the linesman's inability to keep up with play which was in danger of causing a Leicester offside goal to be scored.

The board went up for one minute of added time and deep into that minute, the Spurs fans were imploring the players to get the ball and fashion one last chance. Eriksen picked the ball up deep in the Leicester half down the left wing and played a poor ball to Rose which was cut out. Mahrez was released down the right and ran at an exposed Vertonghen. A la Robben, we knew Mahrez would look to cut inside and curl the ball into the far corner. Sanchez didn't come across to cover, and Mahrez did what we expected him to do and scored an excellent second goal.

In the latter stages of the first half, Dier was at times playing in a back three and at others as a midfielder high up the pitch. For the second goal it seemed Dier was running back from a midfield role to leave a flat back four but with Rose high up the pitch as a wing back. Maybe a little too much in game fluidity which saw a breakdown in communication between the players.

Earlier in the season, with Toby, Sanchez and Jan in a back three, Dier was doing a lot of the dirty work in front of the defence. Without this screen and also being without Wanyama, the defence has looked more exposed than usual.

So the players went in at half time with a mountain to climb but two and even three goals isn't beyond this group of players.

Speaking with fans at half time, most hoped and expected Son to replace Sissoko. No changes were made but Spurs started on the front foot with Kane flashing a shot across goal. Eriksen couldn't get the ball out of his feet and missed what seemed an open goal.

Substitutions were made, with the most welcome being the return of Lamela after what must have been a 13 month absence. With what might have been his first touch, he unlocked the Leicester defence and Kane wasted no time in pulling the trigger to unleash a bullet of a shot past the keeper.

Playing in a deeper role, Lamela dictated the play and looked as if single handedly he might take the game by the scruff of its neck and turn it on its head.

Llorente spurned a good chance which had Spurs fans afterwards asking whether Janssen has a clause in his contract to return in January. With his hold up play and lay offs he certainly fits the team's style better than Llorente.

The second half became the charge of the Alamo with Spurs laying siege on the Leicester goal and Schmeichel pawing the ball away on regular occasions. By now Leicester were content to play hoof ball as far up the pitch as possible. It was though coming straight back but the elusive second goal just wouldn't come and on the break Vardy looked to be through for a third but for a great tackle by Vertonghen.

Leicester were content to let Spurs play the ball wide and with the poor crossing of Aurier it was easy to understand why. Rose looked a lot sharper on the left and fitter too but his final ball isn't quite there yet. He went down for what looked to be a cast iron penalty but social media told us he wasn't fouled but instead had kicked the turf.

Leicester adopted time wasting tactics with Schmeichel being booked in the final minutes when of course, just like Foster at the weekend, it was too late to be meaningful. And so the final whistle blew and the Leicester fans, having beaten us at home in the league for the first time since 2003 taunted us with their songs. They will live off their title win forever but even though in a mini slump, Spurs are in good shape and let's hope we can come out of on Saturday.

#Coys

Footnote - Last season Pochettino rotated the wing backs to have pace on one side. The balance hasn't quite worked in the last two games. May be the rotation needs to be Trippier/Rose and Aurier/Davies or as suggested by a mate last night KWP/Rose.

Spurs Odyssey match report

El Gringo's Once in a Lifetime

John Ellis's Facebook page

El Gringo's Once in a Lifetime - John Ellis's account of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

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