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Leicester v Spurs, 08.12.18

PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 8TH DECEMBER, 2018
(7.45pm)
LEICESTER CITY 0(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(1)

Scorers:-
Son, 45 (+1)
Dele, 58

Attendance:- 31,957

Referee:- Craig Pawson
Assistants:- Lee Betts, Ian Hussin
Fourth official:- Roger East

Teams:-
Leicester (4-2-3-1):- Schmeichel; Ricardo Pereira, Morgan (Capt.), Evans, Chilwell; Iborra (sub Albrighton, 56), Ndidi; Gray, Mendy (sub Okazaki, 79), Maddison; Iheanacho (sub Ghezzal, 56)

Subs not used:- Ward; Fuchs, Maguire; Choudhury

Booked:- Mendy (foul on Sissoko), Albrighton (foul on Son), Gray (foul on Walker-Peters)

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier (sub Walker-Peters, 78), Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Winks; Sissoko, Dele, Son (sub Kane, 74); Lucas Moura (sub Eriksen, 67)

Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Rose; Nkoudou, Skipp

Booked:- Dier (foul on Iheanacho)

Two stunning goals give Spurs another crucial win.

King Power Stadium, 8th December, 2018

By the time this match was played in the new late Saturday night slot of 7.45pm, nothing other than a win would give Spurs back the third place they had gained during the week following Arsenal’s late winner against lowly Huddersfield, and Chelsea’s 2-0 win over the previously unbeaten Manchester City. The fact that we got that win thanks to two stunning goals by Son Heung-min and Dele Alli, and with neither Harry Kane or Christian Eriksen in the starting line-up says so much about Spurs’ level of achievement. We have now played 10 of our 16 Premier League games away from home and have won 8 of those games. Clearly manager Mauricio Pochettino is going all out for a historic win in Barcelona on Tuesday, having rested Kane and Eriksen. He said after the game that the Premier League had not helped Spurs by fixing this late night kick-off, but Spurs have come through with flying colours.

We saw two great goals tonight. The first by Son Heung-min was surely one of his best for Tottenham. It was a superb left foot curler just before half-time. Dele Alli scored his 50th Spurs goal in the second half, reminiscent of his very first Spurs goal, also against Leicester, and also a diving header in the same goal, in front of the travelling fans.

Leicester were missing Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire did not come off the bench, and Vardy was clearly missed. Leicester were occasionally threatening on the break, but Spurs defended well, with Hugo Lloris not seriously tested throughout. It was great to see Alderweireld and Vertonghen in tandem. Toby was masterful. Sissoko was powerful in the middle and down the right side, again recognised by the travelling fans. Moussa is one of the nominees for the Premier League player of the month award for November. Spurs didn’t always make the right decisions regarding their passes in the middle, but generally they managed the game very professionally.

The weather earlier in the day had been quite apocalyptic, with dark grey skies and pounding rain, but it had settled down by the time of kick-off, and I suspect the players enjoyed the conditions. In truth there was little excitement in the first half, with Leicester getting men behind the ball and happy to try and attack Spurs on the counter. By the same token, Spurs were happy to play their patient game; to “recycle” as is the popular expression, and indeed the popular way. We defended stoutly. James Maddison, signed in the summer from Norwich, has had a great impact for “The Foxes” scoring five Premier League goals. Maddison was nominally on the left of midfield, but had a degree of freedom. He was Leicester’s creative threat and tried to put in Iheanacho in the early stages, but the Spurs defence was wise to the proposed ball. Leicester defended two Spurs free kicks, and Spurs had a new dead ball man today – “Sonny”, who had a mixed degree of success.

Ndidi got goalside of Jan Vertonghen, chasing a long ball, but fired well over the target. Eric Dier got an early yellow card from referee Craig Pawson for his perceived foul on Iheanacho. In the old days, Dier’s stretch and slide (and win of the ball) would have been hailed as a great tackle, but that was the old days. His was the only Spurs yellow card, but of course Eric had to exercise caution for the rest of proceedings. Leicester had a couple of corners which came to nothing and Mendy also saw yellow for bringing down the charging Sissoko. Son and Davies were looming over any Spurs free kicks.

As the half progressed, Spurs imposed themselves upon the Leicester defence more and more. Dier hit a long ball for Lucas Moura who took it to the line on the right and crossed for Dele, but the ball was cut out. Dier then fed Dele, who in turn threaded a ball for Son, who was in a good scoring position, but had been flagged offside. Dier was again involved in a forward move featuring Son, and Lucas Moura again, with Dele through on the left, but having to settle for winning a corner. Dele was through again on the right side, trying to find Lucas Moura, but Morgan cleared this danger. Dele was massive for Spurs tonight. He was Spurs best creative spark. His level of skill and awareness is terrific and the nature and inventiveness of his play is a joy to behold. Of course, he would eventually cap his performance with a great goal!

Spurs made a break out of defence with Son feeding Sissoko, who charged down the right channel. Son was racing forward too, alongside Dele, and Sissoko had those two passing opportunities, but failed with his attempt to reach either of them with what would have been a great goal scoring opportunity. No matter, we forgive Moussa such oversights now, thanks to his powerful territory-winning play. Lucas Moura was fouled out on the right, but Son’s free kick was way over the target. Dele got deep into the box after exchanging with Son, but Morgan stopped him getting any further. We entered one minute of added time, and it was nearly up when Aurier passed inside to Son on the right of the area. Son carried the ball to his left before hitting a supreme unstoppable shot high into the right corner of Schmeichel’s goal. Son scores plenty of spectacular goals, but this was such a goal of beauty. The Spurs fans chanted “Nice one, Sonny”, but it was so much better than “nice”, and psychologically a wonderful time to take the lead, of course.

Spurs started the second half where they had left off with Lucas Moura nodding a ball into Dele’s path, but Schmeichel was first to the ball and cleared. Even dele missed a golden opportunity for a pass to a runner out on the left, as we attacked down the right channel. After a poor Leicester clearance, Lucas Moura, Dele and Son attacked with Son hitting a shot which looped up and out for a corner when half blocked.

Leicester manage Claude Puel made a double substitution of Ghezzal for Iheanacho and Albrighton for Iborra. It was Spurs who responded though increasing their lead thanks to the attacking trio of Lucas Moura, Son and Dele. Lucas found Son out on the left. He crossed powerfully and deep towards the back post where Dele through himself headlong to meet the ball and head it into the net past Schmeichel. That first goal here in 2015 had been a diving header, but Dele had been more upright on that occasion. This one was more spectacular. I remember writing then “Alli stings, but Mahrez bites back”. Well, substitute Ghezzal is also Algerian, but he doesn’t have the same bite as Mahrez, and two late shots by him were comfortable for Lloris.

Albrighton took a booking soon after he came on for his foul on Son. Pochettino replaced Lucas Moura with Eriksen for the last quarter of the game. The Spurs full backs threatened with ben Davies crossing deep and Aurier meeting the ball with a header which bounced down and over Schmeichel’s goal. Son was replaced by Harry Kane with 15 minutes remaining. Aurier went down for treatment and had to be replaced by Kyle Walker-Peters. Filling the right back position looks like being Pochettino’s biggest worry on Tuesday night.

Leicester made their last change with Okazaki replacing Mendy. Spurs seemed to allow Leicester to come onto them, but their pressure did not amount to enough, with Lloris comfortably holding those last shots by Ghezzal.

Chelsea’s win over Manchester City was a great result for the rest of the top five, closing up the group. Liverpool remain the only unbeaten team and lead City by one point, with Spurs a further five points behind. This fixture was more than a potential banana skin for Spurs. It was a truly tricky fixture – one we lost last year. Everton away in two weeks’ time will be our next such game. Around that, we have three winnable home games, or are they potential banana skins? !

We have our best points tally in the premier League after 16 games.

COME ON YOU SPURS!

PS:- Spurs have won every game this year that has been refereed by Craig Pawson. Leicester have lost every such game. One of those was the 5-4 win by Spurs at Wembley in May.

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