Tottenham scored early, scored late, and survived a frantic finish at the King Power Stadium as they defeated Leicester City 2-1 on Boxing Day. It was Spurs’ third consecutive Premier League victory and the first in a busy holiday football season.
Harry Kane started Spurs off on a flyer. Not even a minute into the match, Kane found himself open in the box and put away a Nacer Chadli cross to put Tottenham up 1-0. Spurs caught Leicester napping — Erik Lamela started off the play with a wonderful pass out of the middle to Chadli, who got a bit of space and chipped in an excellent cross. The goal took the wind right out of the Foxes’ sails and they were on their back heels for the majority of the first half.
Spurs looked the better side for the entire first half. Chadli had another great chance to put Spurs up two midway through the half, but his goal from the left side was parried away nicely by Leicester keeper Ben Hamer.
Leicester had their chances to equalize in the first half, especially on the counterattack. Leicster striker Leonardo Ulloa had a wonderful opportunity in the 38th minute, but his wide-open header went off the post. The first half ended 1-0.
Spurs made one halftime sub, bringing in Ryan Mason for Benjamin Stambouli, and the sub changed the overall character of the match. Three minutes into the second period, Mason was muscled off the ball, Riyad Mahrez put a nice cross in for Ulloa, and the striker equalized a real poacher’s effort from close range. Mahrez nearly put the Foxes up a few minutes later, rifling a free kick off the cross bar.
Leicester took advantage of some midfield and defensive disorganization from Spurs and put them under a great deal of pressure for the majority of the match. Hugo Lloris was in outstanding form, making several great saves including a diving stop to deny Jeff Schlupp.
Christian Eriksen put Spurs up for good late in the half. His free kick from 35’ took an uncontested bounce in the area and went in by the near post.
Leicester wasn’t done, though — chasing the game, the Foxes piled on the pressure and had numerous chances late to equalize, including two possible penalties that weren’t given and a wild scramble right in front of goal that should’ve been tapped in. Ultimately, none of these opportunities came to fruition and Spurs were lucky to escape with three points.
- Despite the early goal, Leicester came to play today. They played Spurs pretty even for most of the match an actually outplayed them for a good chunk of the second half. It cannot be emphasized how easily this match could've gone pear-shaped for Tottenham.
- Spurs should consider themselves very fortunate that neither of the (legitimate) penalty shouts were given today. Both could have been, and at least one – the first – SHOULD have been.
- Right now Federico Fazio is the Achilles heel of this defense. He’s decent enough on the ball, but his pace is a liability against any decent Premier League quality attacker. If Pochettino insists on playing a high defensive line, Fazio is not the right defender for the system.
- You guys remember when Ryan Mason was actually playing well out of midfield? I remember those days. Good times. Both Mason and Bentaleb had bad games again, and I can’t understand why he came in for Stambouli in the second half, unless Poche was trying to rotate the midfield.
- Harry Kane. <3 <3 <3
- Christian Eriksen TOTALLY meant that free kick to go in. That wasn’t aimed at a teammate, that was intentional. I love him.
- Leicester City may be bottom of the table, but they’re good enough to hang with anybody at the King Power. Spurs didn’t cover themselves in glory here, but three points on the road at a small stadium is nothing to scoff at.
- Spurs are now two points out of fourth place. Bring on United!