Spurs headed in to Tuesday night’s Premier League fixture away to Leicester City with confidence in a fragile state following the disappointing 1-1 draw with managerless West Brom at Wembley on Saturday. Asides from the impressive win away to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, Tottenham have been struggling in the Premier League of late. Defeats against Manchester United and Arsenal in the League as well as the draw to West Brom meant that Spurs’ place in the top 4 looked to be under threat this season, given Arsenal and Liverpools recent resurgence.
With Lamela back in the matchday squad for Spurs, Pochettino picked a side which, on paper, seemed to look strong. Alderwiereld’s continued injury absence means Eric Dier will play on the right hand side of a back 3 which also contains Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen, whilst the full backs were rotated yet again, with Serge Aurier and Danny Rose getting the nod to start this game.
Aurier Dier Sanchez Vertonghen Rose
Leicester, who seem to be settling down well under their new manager Claude Puel, looked to exploit Jamie Vardy’s electric pace against Spurs’ high back line early on and it seemed to be working well, forcing Lloris to sweep up and clear the ball away as the last man.
It was that man Vardy who put Leicester 1-0 up, hooking a first time volley over Hugo Lloris via a cross that come from Leicester’s left hand side. It was a fantastic finish, but questions have to be asked as to how he found himself in so much space inside Tottenham’s penalty area.
Spurs looked to equalise immediately, with Moussa Sissoko missing a clear chance when through on goal, watching his shot get cleared off the line from the retreating Leicester defenders who got back well. Kane was looking lively, bending a powerful shot just wide of the Leicester goalkeeper’s far post and Dele Alli then forced an excellent save yet again from Schmichael.
Despite all of Tottenham’s efforts, they went in at half time 2-0 down thanks to a goal right on the stroke of half time from Algerian Riyad Mahrez. The attacking midfielder picked up the ball from half way inside Tottenham’s half, beating both Vertonghen and Sanchez, then lashing the ball past Lloris with an absolutely brilliant left footed shot that curled in to the top left hand corner of the goal. Spurs were in trouble.
No changes were made by Pochettino during the Half-Time break, which raised eyebrows from Spurs fans on social media who were expecting to see at least one substitution, given the scoreline.
Desperately searching for a goal, Spurs threw players forward and had more than enough chances to get back in to the game, including an absolute sitter from Christian Eriksen who misjudged his volley and blasted wide from 8 yards out with half of the goal to aim for.
It was that man yet again Harry Kane who got Spurs back in to the game with a goal in the 78th minute, burying a clever pass from second half substitute Erik Lamela who was making his first appearance for the side after 13 months out injured. With 10 minutes to go, Spurs threw everything at Leicester in the search for an equaliser, but couldn’t find the killer touch to come away with a point.
A hugely disappointing result against a side which we beat 6-1 in the same fixture last season.
With recent form taking such a significant dip, Spurs fans have started to ask; whats happened?
Well, the most obvious conclusion is that the senior figures in the team simply aren’t performing currently. Harry Kane aside, who we seem to be more reliant on than ever, players such as Vertonghen, Eriksen and Dembele have struggled in the past month or so and look to be low on confidence, subsequently affecting their performances on the pitch for the side.
Dele, in my opinion, has had his poorest season since joining Spurs and I wonder if the talk of a new contract/new agent/a move elsewhere has got inside his head this year. There’s no doubt he’s one of the most exciting youngsters in European football, but must get out of this rut before he finds himself out of the squad, especially with Son doing so well when he comes off the bench/gets an opportunity.
Pochettino must take some of this blame as well – some of his choices regarding team selection have been questionable recently, especially the inclusion of Moussa Sissoko who has been poor for a couple of weeks now. The rotation of the full backs is also a topic in which needs to be spoken about – with the constant switching over of Aurier, Trippier, Rose and Davies, has the natural cohesion of the side become disrupted as a result of these constant changes?
Having played one game more than the rest of the top 6, Spurs sit in 5th position in the Premier League with 24 points from 14 games, 1 point behind Arsenal in 4th and 1 point above Liverpool in 6th place.
There is plenty of time to turn this spell around before the busy Christmas period kicks in. With no Carabao Cup football and just a dead rubber to play against APOEL in the Champions League following us securing top spot in the group, Poch can concentrate on turning around the League form and instilling some confidence back in to the players who are struggling.
With the January transfer window also just around the corner, perhaps the recent form has highlighted areas which still need strengthening with signings, despite the new faces in the Summer. It is clear to see that Fernando Llorente, bought in to be Kane’s understudy/Plan B when we are chasing a game has not worked and, much like Vincent Janssen, a replacement may be looked at by the management should someone become available.
Let’s hope this current blip is our only one this season. We have a squad bursting with quality and a manager who is one of the best around.
We look to get back on track this weekend away to Watford on Saturday in a 3pm kickoff.
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