TUESDAY 28TH NOVEMBER, 2017
LEICESTER CITY 2(2) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0)
Mahrez, 45 +1
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn
Fourth official: Chris Kavanagh
Leicester (4-2-3-1):- Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan (Capt.), Maguire, Chilwell; Ndidi, Iborra; Mahrez (sub Gray, 77), Okazaki (sub Choudhury, 83), Albrighton; Vardy (sub Slimani, 88)
Subs not used:- Hamer; Dragovic, Amartey; King
Booked:- Schmeichel (time)
Spurs (3-3-2-2):- Lloris (Capt.); Dier, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Aurier, Dembele (sub Llorente, 69), Rose; Sissoko (sub Son, 57), Eriksen (sub Lamela, 77); Kane, Dele
Subs not used:- Vorm; Trippier, Foyth, Davies
Booked:- Vertonghen (foul on Mahrez), Lamela (foul on Iborra)
Championship vintage Leicester beat no vintage Tottenham
When Riyad Mahrez put Leicester 2-0 up at the end of the first half, I tweeted “Leicester 2015-16 style beating Spurs of most years you could name 2-0”. Mahrez had scored a goal typical of his prime in the season Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester had surprised us all by winning the Premier League two seasons ago, and Jamie Vardy had scored a vintage goal to answer the Spurs fans who had been taunting him about what his wife was getting up to in the jungle in Australia. (“I’m a celebrity get me out of here” for the uninitiated). Spurs had been quite abysmal in the first half; too often second to the ball, slow to challenge the runners, and to respond to the pace of Vardy, Albrighton and Mahrez; shocking touch, and shocking passing. It was depressing to watch them lose their third consecutive away league game and to know they are falling away even from the top four, never mind that faded title challenge.
This was the first time under Pochettino that Spurs had lost three away league games on the trot, and we have already lost as many games as last season. On this form, and in fairness, in the best of form for any team this season, Watford away on Saturday looks a challenge, and Spurs will have to show a massive improvement to get a result. This is a group of players looking tired and jaded after their magnificent win in Germany last week. Perhaps they are thinking the Champions League is their only target now this season. Perhaps that is the case!
There were too many poor individual performances tonight. I’ve been a Sissoko sympathiser last season and this, but last night he had the touch of an elephant, and I can’t say I want to see him again in a Spurs shirt. Dier had a shocking game in my view. There came a time, perhaps late in the first half, when he moved into midfield, but he did not show his normal club or England form with too many mis-placed passes. Eriksen is totally off his game. Dembele offered little initiative. Neither wing-back succeeded enough in an attacking style, and Leicester took advantage of their flanks on the counter. To be honest, the only Spurs player to emerge with credit in the first half, in my view, was Dele Alli with his energy and commitment.
We did have something to cheer in the second half with the first appearance since October last year of Erik Lamela, and within 76 seconds, Lamela had laid on what was a superb Harry Kane goal with a fine through ball into the Leicester penalty area. Lamela looked really sharp, and must surely start on Saturday at Watford. He won’t be eligible, or required anyway, for next Wednesday’s final Group H Champions League game against APOEL.
Hugo Lloris had to play the “sweeper-keeper” role a number of times, and after only one minute had to race out of his area to clear from the feet of Vardy chasing a typical long ball out of the Leicester half. After 4 minutes, Hugo was down to save a shot by Ndidi, as he latched onto Simpson’s cross. Dier conceded a corner after 8 minutes, and Albrighton crossed, with Morgan’s header held by Lloris.
Spurs finally conjured up an attack and Sissoko was put in a good position towards the right of the area, but failed to make use of it. The best reward Spurs managed in these early stages was a corner won by Danny Rose, but Schmeichel was not being challenged. Leicester took the lead in the thirteenth minute with a goal as good as any Vardy has scored. Albrighton lofted a ball over both Dier and Sanchez; Vardy saw it coming over his shoulder and hit a great first time shot across Lloris. He ran towards the Spurs fans and cupped his ears, following the abuse he had been receiving. He had answered in the best possible manner. As the game went on, the home fans would gloat over Spurs’ failures, completely forgetting about May’s 6-1 home defeat, but then that is as much history as is their Premier League title.
Harry Kane tried to tee up Sissoko, but his shot was blocked. After 22 minutes, Danny Rose passed inside to Kane, who ran inside from left to right before trying a right footed shot which he lifted over the far corner of the goal. Ndidi had another effort, this time a right-footed shot, which passed wide, after a Leicester cross from the right. Spurs had a couple of chances following a corner. Dembele fed Kane, whose shot was blocked and fell to Eriksen. Eriksen passed to Dele whose shot was saved.
At the other end, Aurier gave away a free kick on Leicester’s right flank and from the free kick by Mahrez, Morgan headed wide. Danny Rose had a shot at the other end following combinations by Dele and Harry Kane. Rose’s shot was well over the target. Spurs had a liking for short corners today, where Dembele would loiter near Eriksen. After one such move, Aurier had a shot held by Schmeichel. Leicester provided a killer blow in first half added time when Mahrez was onto a ball by Ndidi, cut in from the right and hit a great left footed shot across Lloris’s right hand. Spurs had a big hill to climb in the second half.
In fairness, we did dominate possession in the second half, and at least showed the required degree of passion and effort. Pochettino in his post-match comments had been disappointed at our lack of fight in the first half. Harry Kane had a right footed shot go over the goal, after an Eriksen throw on the right. Spurs had reverted to a 4-4-2 now with Dier in front of the back four. Sissoko had a shocking effort at a pass down the left side. Leicester’s Simpson went down needing treatment, and after that Leicester threatened on a counter-attack. Chilwell made a run down the left, sending Vardy away. The ball went to Albrighton, who crossed only for Okazaki to head over.
Sissoko was replaced by Son, and this move was cheered by the Spurs fans. The spursometer will make sad but interesting reading today. After good battling by Dele on the left and a pass to Kane, Spurs won a corner taken by Eriksen. Sanchez had a header go wide. Now Dembele was replaced by Llorente. One of Dier’s mis-placed passes led to a Leicester attack where Jan Vertonghen had to make a good saving tackle on Vardy. Eriksen had an effort on goal following Son’s cross from the left and I thought there had been a handball by a Leicester player in the box, but the ball just went wide of the goal, and no infringement was spotted.
Eriksen was replaced by Lamela, who was given massive cheers by the Spurs fans. Lamela soon won chants of “Everywhere you go, always take Lamela with you”, and in no time he had provided the fine touch which led to Harry Kane’s flashing right foot shot high into Schmeichel’s net. Spurs were putting the home side under pressure, but could they get another goal? The answer ultimately was “No”. Lamela fed the ball to Aurier just ahead of him on the right. Aurier crossed to the back post where Llorente hit the ball wide with the goal beckoning.
Lamela got a booking for an over-enthusiastic tackle on Iborra, and in added time Danny Rose received a pass from Son, took it into the box and went down under Ndidi’s challenge. Much to the disgust of the travelling fans and to the relief of the home fans, referee Anthony Taylor wanted nothing to do with the idea of a penalty. There was one more chance for Spurs with a right foot shot by Dele Alli going over the target.
This was Spurs’ first league defeat at this stadium. We have conceded the first goal of each of our last four games, and it was Claude Puel who won this battle of the former Southampton managers. Spurs could even slip down to seventh tonight (Wednesday) if the results go against us. All in all, it was as depressing a night as any Spurs fan could wish for.
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