SUNDAY 23RD MAY, 2021
LEICESTER CITY 2(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4(1)
Vardy (2 pens), 18, 52
Schmeichel (o.g.), 76
Bale, 87, 90 (+6)
Referee:- Anthony Taylor
Assistants:- Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn
Fourth official:- Keith Stroud
VAR:- Peter Bankes
Assistant VAR:- Lee Betts
Leicester (3-4-1-2):- Schmeichel (Capt.); Castagne, Fofana (sub Mendy, 21), Soyuncu; Albrighton (sub Perez, 80), Tielemans, Ndidi, Thomas; Maddison (sub Ricardo, 62); Iheanacho, Vardy
Subs not used:- Ward; Morgan, Amartey, Fuchs; Choudhury, Praet
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Doherty, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Reguilon; Hojbjerg, Winks; Bergwijn (sub Bale, 68), Dele (sub Lucas Moura, 68), Son (sub Rodon, 90+4); Kane
Subs not used:- Hart; Dier; Lamela, John; Vinicius, Scarlett
Booked:- Bergwijn (foul on Iheanacho), Winks (foul on Iheanacho)
Celebrating Europe (of sorts) and finishing above Arsenal
Both teams finished the day where they had started. Leicester were in fifth. Spurs were in seventh. As always, all games on the last day kicked off at the same time, and at various times during the 90 minutes plus, Leicester were as high as third and heading for the Champions league, whilst Spurs were as low as eighth, below Arsenal and heading nowhere. There were ups and downs and Spurs went behind twice. The “Happy Clappers” ( for Leicester fans are still issued with their applause toys) were over the moon, but despite the fact Chelsea lost at Villa, Spurs came back from behind with a great goal by Kane, a blooper by Schmeichel (who I believe has conceded more goals against Spurs than anyone) and two goals by ace substitute Gareth Bale. Thus Spurs qualified for the third-rate European conference League (and even have to take part in a play-off round), but perhaps the best news was that we managed to finish above Arsenal, despite them beating Brighton. They are out of Europe for the first time in 25 years. My reverse psychology prediction of defeat worked a treat!
Leicester were seeking their first league double over Spurs since the 1998/99 season. Spurs had scored in each of their last 11 visits to Leicester’s stadium. Spurs had lost just one of their final day matches in the last 10 seasons. We all know when that happened, and you do not need reminding. It was when we finished third in a “two-horse race”. Today we risked finishing eighth in a “seven-horse race”. With the prizes at stake, this was set up to be a good game.
Leicester were already missing defender Jonny Evans and when Fofana had to withdraw through injury after only 20 minutes, the commentators were full of sympathy for the home side. One of them was former gooner and Leicester man Alan Smith, and it would be so nice to watch a game with one commentator sympathetic to Spurs. Maybe that factor will drive me towards renewing both my home and away season tickets next season.
Ryan Mason sprang several selection surprises. We knew that Tanganga was injured, but Serge Aurier didn’t make the bench so Matt Doherty got the gig at right back. It was a surprise to see Davinson Sanchez start (even to take part) for the first time since April 4th. To this observer it was also a surprise to see Harry Winks next to Hojbjerg again. Winks did play one or two useful attacking passes during the game, but overall, I’m afraid he was quite a liability with several mis-kicks and losing passes. Steven Bergwijn started on the right wing, with Gareth Bale on the bench. Lo Celso, Ndombele, and Sissoko had not made the bench. Two youngsters – Nile John and Dane Scarlett – were on the bench along with Carlos Vinicius, who also had not appeared since 4th April.
Spurs kicked off, playing away from the away end which was occupied by socially distanced home supporters, who booed many Spurs touches, especially those of Dele Alli after he argued a throw-in decision, and they also use that “Championship” chant aimed at the goalkeeper whenever he takes a long kick. In Spurs’ case, that doesn’t happen too often. Once again there were times when our difficulty in playing out from the back frustrated me, as did our lack of speed at times in attack, along with those dreaded backward throws and passes.
Spurs did start well though. Hojbjerg found “Sonny” with a long ball, but that attack fizzled out. On the other side after Bergwijn’s clever touch to Doherty and a pass to Dele, Dele pushed a ball forward for Harry Kane, but Leicester cleared. Winks passed forward to Bergwijn, who fed the ball to Dele, but Fofana cleared well. Dele had scored his very first Premier League goal here back in August 2015.
Leicester began to work their way into the game. After a corner on the left, Soyuncu’s header was held by Hugo. Maddison had a 25-yard shot deflected out for another corner which came to nothing. After 14 minutes Vardy was onto a long ball and was troubling both Sanchez and Alderweireld in the penalty area. Vardy turned away from Sanchez, and my (okay biased) view was that he tripped over Toby’s leg rather than Toby bringing him down. Referee Anthony Taylor obviously thought the same because he waved penalty appeals away. When play did come to a natural stop, Mr. Taylor was encouraged to view the monitor by VAR Peter Bankes, and reversed his decision. Vardy scored from the spot with Hugo going the wrong way. It’s a long time since Hugo even looked like saving a penalty.
Fofana was replaced by Mendy and Ndidi covered at the back. Bergwijn was called out for a foul on left back Luke Thomas when it looked like he might get into a promising position. The news filtered through that West Ham were 2-0 up, so at that stage we could say with reasonable certainty goodbye to the Europa League. A shot by Albrighton from distance tested Lloris, who saved well, diving to his left.
Hojbjerg sent a good long ball down the left diagonally to Reguilon who was in a good position, but Spurs took too long over trying to develop this attack. Dele hit a great pass to Son who won a corner with Kane close and trying to get in a shot. After the corner, the ball reached Doherty at the back of the area who hit a shot which was headed into the air and then not cleared properly, with Son getting another touch. The ball reached Harry, who hit it first time and too fast for Schmeichel to be able to save as the ball passed through his legs. Harry loves a goal against Leicester and this was his 16th in 15 games against them, and 15th from 12 in the Premier League.
With added time approaching, Sanchez defended well against Vardy who was threatening in the area again after Albrighton’s lofted pass.
Leicester kicked off the second half. It wasn’t long before we heard that Arsenal had a lead against Brighton, so as the table stood, we were out of Europe. Leicester had an early corner on the left and Thomas combined with Maddison before the ball reached Nampalys Mendy about 25 yards out. He struck a firm shot which Lloris saved.
Leicester had a second penalty after 50 minutes. This took place just as Davinson Sanchez was the subject of quite scathing comments by the commentators, Smith in particular. It looked another soft penalty to me, as Sanchez battled with Vardy going into the area, but this time Mr. Taylor pointed to the spot and VAR was not going to disagree. Vardy hit this one to the left of Hugo, who hardly moved. The home fans were overjoyed, especially as Chelsea were two down by this time.
After a poor defensive ball across the field, Son took advantage and passed to Kane, but Harry hit the ball a mile over the target. Iheanacho was onto a high ball at the other end, but his shot went straight into Lloris’s arms. Maddison was replaced by Ricardo, whilst Ryan Mason made a double substitution, bringing on Bale and Lucas Moura for Bergwijn and Dele.
Even now, Spurs were too often over-running the ball, allowing the Leicester players to take it away. Son was onto a good lofted pass by Alderweireld and when he crossed, Soyuncu conceded a corner with a diving header. After that corner Doherty was fouled outside the box on the left. Son took the free kick and this was headed over for another corner. Son took this corner from the left and delivered it dipping into the 6-yard area. Sanchez rose to challenge for the ball, but it was Schmeichel’s arm that helped the ball into the net. The commentators tried to suggest there had been a handball by Sanchez, but it was 2-2.
It was twitchy time for both sides, especially the fans in the stadium and at home (or in the pub, of course). Schmeichel saved from Son’s right footed shot, and when Son crossed from the left Harry Kane just failed to make contact. Brendan Rodgers took off Albrighton for Perez. After a good ball from the left by Bale, Harry Kane chipped a pass for Lucas Moura, but Leicester managed to clear.
Harry Winks was booked for a desperate foul (in the Leicester half) on Iheanacho after he had given the ball away with a poor pass – not for the first time. Spurs became more and more threatening though, and reaped their reward in the closing phase of the game. Firstly after Lucas Moura broke forward and passed the Bale, the ball reached Kane via Son. Harry took the ball to his left with a touch over Soyuncu. This was when he allegedly handled the ball. Harry passed inside to Bale who powered home his left foot shot. Alan Smith was convinced the goal would not stand, but stand it did and Spurs had the lead. They were back in seventh and Leicester had fallen to fifth. There was a VAR review and apparently Harry had handled the ball, but it was decreed to have been too far in advance of his pass to Bale. Who really knows where we stand with VAR?
Leicester responded with two corners and from the second of these, Hugo either saved on the line or maybe the ball had crossed the line (Alan Smith thought so, of course). As it happens there was an offside flag raised against two blue-shirted players anyway. Joe Rodon replaced Son in added time and as we entered the sixth of five allocated minutes of added time Bale was away down the middle in the Leicester half. He raced into the box and hit the post with his first shot to the right of the beaten Schmeichel, but scored from the rebound. What a great result!
Harry Kane secured his third Golden boot, and with most Premier League assists he was also presented with the playmaker’s award. He was hugged with great emotion by the likes of Dele Alli and Heung-min Son. Did this herald Harry’s departure? We have to wait and see, but there does need to be some upheaval of the personnel before next season.
There will be a final Premier League review, along with my monthly and end of season reports on Spurs Odyssey. I am seriously considering reducing my workload on the website, but it will continue in some way for at least one more season. Thanks to those of you who do read and follow my offerings. I hope you have a good summer.
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