BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 22ND AUGUST, 2015
LEICESTER CITY 1 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)
Referee:- Martin Atkinson
Assistants:- S Child & M Mullarkey
Fourth official:- L Mason
Leicester (4-4-2):- Schmeichel; De Laet, Huth, Morgan (Capt.), Schlupp; Mahrez (sub Ulloa, 90+3), King, Drinkwater (sub Inler, 80), Albrighton (sub Kante, 78); Okazaki, Vardy
Subs not used:- Schwarzer; Benalouane; Fuchs; Kramaric
Booked:- King (foul on Alli)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Mason (sub Bentaleb, 88); Dembele (sub Carroll, 77), Lamela (sub Alli, 65), Chadli; Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Rose, Trippier; Onomah
Booked:- Dembele (foul on Albrighton), Lamela (foul on Schlupp), Dier (foul on Vardy), Mason (foul on Okazaki)
Alli stings, but Mahrez bites back
When Spurs’ 19 year old substitute Dele Alli scored an 81st minute goal in front of his adoring away fans, it was a magical moment for the player and those fans who had greeted him onto the field with chants of “Dele Alli” when he had replaced Erik Lamela. It also looked as if that goal might be enough to secure Mauricio Pochettino his first win of the season, but his team fell asleep at the kick-off and immediately allowed Riyad Mahrez to cut in from the right-hand side into the Spurs area, before beating Hugo Lloris with a left footed shot to the far post. The King Power Stadium was in raptures, and the point was enough to put them level top of the table with seven points. That’s five more than Spurs, who are at the wrong end of the table.
The last Spurs manager/head coach to fail to secure a win in the first three games of the season was Andre Villas-Boas three years ago. Before that, it was Juande Ramos seven years ago, and look what happened to him! Things are not that desperate for Spurs yet, but neither team really looked like scoring in the first half, although Schmeichel was the busier of the two keepers until the exchange of goals. After that, Leicester looked the more likely winners, with Hugo Lloris making a great save on the line from Leicester skipper Wes Morgan.
The only change in the Spurs line-up was the insertion of Erik Lamela for Christian Eriksen, who suffered a training injury this week. Latest signing Clinton N’Jie didn’t make the bench. There was some interchange again in the positioning of the midfield three behind Harry Kane, but ultimately they settled with (from right to left) Lamela, Dembele, and Chadli. Leicester played both Okazaki and Vardy up front, ably supported by Mahrez, but to be honest they didn’t bother the Spurs defence much in the first half. However, whilst Spurs dominated possession in that period, there was little, if any, penetration, and too much sideways and backward passing. It didn’t make entertaining football.
Leicester was blazed with hot sunshine today, with temperatures in the 80s, and we even had a drinks break midway through both halves. I thought I was at the cricket!
Jan Vertonghen had to make a recovery, and it was a good one, after his first attempted clearance was skied, but he did then clear the ball well. Alderweireld made a run forward and hit a good ball to Kyle Walker on the right. Walker fed the ball to Dembele, who cut inside and hit a left footed shot straight at the keeper. Dembele again looked lively in the early stages. At the other end, Ben Davies fouled Mahrez on the edge of his side of the penalty area, but nothing came of Leicester’s free kick.
Albrighton got inside Walker but hit his shot wide of the far post. Ryan Mason was also fully involved and after he fed the ball to Davies, Spurs won a corner, taken by Lamela and headed wide of the far post by Dier. After the first drinks break, Mason broke into the Leicester half and fed the ball to Kyle Walker. Once again, he gave Dembele a chance, and this time Schmeichel was unable to hold the shot, but it was cleared before Walker could follow up.
Both Dembele and Lamela took bookings around the half-hour mark. Three minutes before the break, Mahrez was well tackled by Vertonghen inside the box, and referee Martin Atkinson waved away any Leicester appeals for a penalty. The attack had only come about due to Spurs losing possession needlessly. Two minutes into added time, Ryan Mason had a crack at goal, which passed well over.
When we used to go to Filbert Street in the 90s, former Leicester (and Chelsea amongst other clubs) player Alan Birchenall was the half-time master of ceremonies. Today he was regaled with a rendition of “Happy Birthday” as he was celebrating his 70th today.
Two minutes into the second half, Walker provided a chance for Chadli, who hit his right footed shot too high. Vertonghen made a good run forward to receive a pass from the left flank. He passed to Lamela, who met the ball at the near post, but shot wide. Spurs won a corner when a Davies cross was deflected out of play. Lamela took the kick, but Chadli headed wide at the far post. Davies won another ball by closing down in the Leicester half. Mason hit a diagonal pass to Chadli towards the right side, but again Chadli missed the target.
Dier “took one for the team” in preventing Albrighton making a break in the Spurs half. Spurs’ best chance to date came after 62 minutes. Mason threaded a ball to Harry Kane on the left of the box. Harry was faced with two opponents, but managed to wriggle inside them but as he shot, Schmeichel had got close enough to save. Dele Alli replaced Lamela, and immediately assumed an attacking midfield role. Dembele teed up Kyle Walker for a long distance shot, but Schmeichel held.
I thought that Lloris had saved a Mahrez shot with his legs at the other end, but the ball appears to have rebounded off the post. Dele Alli made a break versus Schlupp who seemed to have fouled the Spurs man just outside the area, but no foul was awarded. Claudio Ranieri made two quick substitutions, both of which added new pace to the midfield through N’Golo Kante and Inler. However, Spurs took the lead in dramatic style. Kane was central and battled away to find space to feed the ball to Chadli on the left. Chadli crossed, and Dele Alli stooped at the far post to head home to cue rapturous celebrations. Alli became the youngest Spurs scorer in the Premier league since Gareth Bale scored against Arsenal in September 2007.
We had barely stopped celebrating, and clearly Spurs had not regained their concentration, when Mahrez was onto Vardy’s header and beat Lloris with his left foot shot across the goalmouth. Five minutes later came that Lloris save from Morgan’s header, and it was almost a case of Spurs hanging on. However, Alderweireld did have a shot blocked from a narrow angle, and Schmeichel thwarted Harry Kane’s efforts to reach a corner.
We’ll just have to try and get that first win next week at home to Everton!
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