Tactical Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Leicester City

Harry Kane’s 50th goal for the Club came in the form of an 89th minute penalty to force an FA Cup replay with Leicester City. This means that Wednesday’s Premier League match at White Hart Lane will be the second in a series of three matches against the Foxes in a short span. 

It’s difficult to read too much into Sunday’s match when looking ahead to Wednesday as neither side started what one would call a first-choice eleven – Kane and Alli only came on after Spurs went behind and Riyad Mahrez didn’t come off the bench – but Spurs dominated possession, only to be undone by two poor defensive moments. Though, given the entirety of the performance, Poch should feel good going into Wednesday, especially if Jamie Vardy remains sidelined. 

Vardy had minor groin surgery last week and could be available, but looks to be a game-time decision. The Englishman has scored 15 of Leicester’s 37 Premier League goals, 41% of the total. Only Romelu Lukaku and Odion Ighalo have scored a higher percentage of their Club’s goals – 42% and 56%, respectively.

But Leicester certainly have other weapons in addition to Vardy. Riyad Mahrez has 13 goals and seven assists, while Marc Albrighton has six assists of his own. 

As was apparent on Sunday, Leicester’s style of play is characterized by very little possession. The Foxes have the third lowest possession rate in the Premier League (43.8%) and the lowest pass completion rate (69.8%). Leicester also have the third highest long balls as a percentage of total passes (20.8%). Claudio Ranieri’s side’s style is predicated on counter-attacking football, which plays directly into the talents of Vardy and Mahrez. 

Look for Leicester to line up in a 4-4-2 with center-backs Robert Huth and Wes Morgan in front of goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel. The fullbacks are right back, Danny Simpson, and left back, Christian Fuchs.

In the centre of the midfield are N’Golo Kanté and Daniel Drinkwater. Kanté and Drinkwataer provide an important shield for the back line, a role of particular importance given Leicester’s tendency to absorb pressure. Kanté leads the Foxes in both tackles per match and interceptions per match. 

On the flanks are Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton. WhoScored.com’s statistical rating system rates Mahrez as the best player in the Premier League thus far. 

If Vardy is available, look for the Englishman to line up next to either Leonardo Ulloa or Shinji Okazaki at the front of the 4-4-2. In the case that Vardy remains sidelined, look for Ulloa and Okazaki to pair up, as they did in the second half of Sunday’s FA Cup match.

N’Jie and Mason remain injured for Wednesday. Dembélé will return to the squad, though I don’t expect him to start. Given that Son played a full 90 minutes on Sunday, I would expect the attacking midfield to consist of Lamela, Eriksen, and Chadli, with Alli moving alongside Eric Dier. Though another possibility is the insertion on Bentaleb, which would leave Alli in the #10 role.

The Spurs Projected Goal Difference is +1.18 in favor of Spurs, projecting a win for the Lilywhites.

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