Leicester will host Tottenham at King Power Stadium in the second match of the EPL sixth round. Tottenham are slight favourites coming into the match, but both teams will be fancying their chances of collecting the three points.
Leicester had a decent start of the season up until their last match. They drew with Wolves and Chelsea in their first two matches and managed to defeat a pretty sturdy Sheffield United side in the third round.
Their best match of the season so far was their home victory against Bournemouth. In that match, Vardy bagged a brace and Youri Tielemans added a third to defeat Eddie Howe’s always impressive side.
This victory spurred many fans to believe that the Foxes would also come with some points when they visited a much depleted Manchester United side. In fact, Manchester United’s early season struggles and the Foxes’ impressive form at the start of the season meant that even United fans and bookmakers were expecting the match to end in a draw or with Leicester winning.
However, sides such as Manchester United are at their most dangerous when they are underestimated and sure enough this was once again the case. Much has been said about the penalty controversy surrounding the Red Devils after both Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba missed a penalty each. However, when the Foxes came to town this unfortunate penalty trend took a turn for the better for United as Marcus Rashford converted his 8th minute penalty.
This goal turned out to be the decisive one as the match ended with a 1-0 Manchester United victory and Brendan Rodgers was left with some questions to answer. To lose against Manchester United is never a catastrophic result, but to lose to this Manchester is always going to cause a manager at least some problems with fans.
What’s more, Leicester failed to create any convincing chances during the match and whenever there was a promising opportunity it was easily dealt with by their former defender Harry Maguire and his partner Lindelof. The fact that Maguire and Lindelof are far from playing in the form of their lives grated Foxes’ fans even more. It is expected not to have a field day against the likes of Van Dijk, but against a troubled United defence the Foxes should have at least created some chances.
Tottenham on the other hand, come into this match with an almost opposite run of form to that of the Foxes. This is because they started the season promisingly by defeating Aston Villa in their first match, but have since failed to put a convincing performance. That’s of course before their trashing of Crystal Palace in the fifth round.
Spurs drew rather luckily against title winners Manchester City in the second round courtesy of their old friend and City nemesis VAR. Fortune was not on Pochettino’s side in the third round however. In that match they surprisingly lost at home against a struggling Newcastle side and opened some space for questions to be asked whether this Tottenham side has the ability and mental capacity to challenge for the Top 4.
Their next match against Arsenal only made these questioning voices stronger. This is because Tottenham took the lead at their arch rivals’ home and were even leading 0-2 at one point of the match. However, they gave Arsenal a chance to return to the match and eventually equalize and that didn’t go down well with their most loyal supporters.
Fortunately for Pochettino and his players though, Spurs’ last match yielded exactly the result and performance that he would have wanted to see. They absolutely destroyed Crystal Palace at home and were leading 4-0 as early as the 42nd minute. This would have given Pochettino the boost that he needs ahead of a difficult away fixture in Leicester.
Difficult Champions League Trip
One of the biggest advantages that Leicester will hold over Tottenham in this match is that Spurs will have only a couple of days to recuperate from their difficult away trip to Athens. Spurs played Olympiacos in the Champions League on Wednesday night and this means that they will only have two days to prepare for and analyze their next match against Leicester.
In modern football this is a common occurrence and sides such as Spurs are often in a situation in which they have to play a match every three or four days. However, FA chiefs have put Spurs in some serious disadvantage here by scheduling their match as an early kick off on Saturday. The only way they could have made this situation worse is if they scheduled this match on Friday evening. The fact that Spurs have to travel to Leicester does not make things any easier too.
Poor Away Form
Another thing which is bound to cause a lot of worry for Spurs’ fans is the fact that they have been quite poor in their away matches. Tottenham have only managed to win 2 of their last 13 matches across all competitions.
This is definitely a worrying statistic especially when you look at it in combination with Tottenham also being quite tired from their Champions League exploits. To make matters look even worse, at least on paper, only two of those 11 winless matches were draws. This means that Tottenham lost 9 of their previous 13 away matches.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, Tottenham are without an away win in the EPL since January this year as their last away victory came to relegated Fulham on 20 January.
This certainly doesn’t look good for Spurs and that’s why that 4-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace at home was so important for Pochettino. Spurs desperately need some winning momentum, but that momentum has to be maintained by winning both home and, more crucially, away from home.
Leicester’s Excellent Home Form
Leicester’s home form is in stark contrast to Spurs’ away form. The Foxes have only lost 1 of their 8 previous EPL home matches against Newcastle United in April. Of those 7 positive results 5 have been victories with only Chelsea and Wolves getting a draw at King Power Stadium.
This makes for a difficult reading for Spurs fans as they will be playing against one of the sides which are known for playing quite well at home. Factor in the fatigue that Spurs players will be carrying and you have a recipe for disaster if you are a Spurs fan.
However, if there is one thing which gives a reason for optimism for Spurs fans it is their rediscovered motivation which was there for everyone to see in the match against Crystal Palace.
The biggest problem with Spurs coming into the season was the fact that the futures of several of their key players were unresolved and they had to wait until the transfer window had closed on 2 September to see if the likes of Christian Eriksen would leave the club.
Eriksen didn’t leave the club, but players such as him and Vertonghen were clearly disillusioned with something whether that was wanting a new challenge or a new contract.
Fortunately for Spurs fans, this all changed when Pochettino called a team meeting last Thursday on which the air was cleared and after which everyone was once again pulling in the same direction. That performance against Palace was a clear indicator that all is once again well at White Hart Lane and players such as Vertonghen, Eriksen, Aurier, and Son were clearly in a competitive mood and willing to impress. Whatever Pochettino said in that meeting obviously worked and that is something that Spurs fans will hold onto in their attempt to come away with the 3 points from King Power.
This certainly promises to be a match in which both teams will be trying to win as it is not only the 3 points they are fighting for. The Foxes will be trying to continue a decent home tradition, while Spurs will desperately be looking for a winning run to restart their Top 4 hopes.