In what we billed as an appetizer to Wednesday's main course in the league, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City played to a 2-2 draw in front of a sellout crowd at White Hart Lane. Both sides opted to rotate their lineups ahead of the top four clash on Wednesday, but the match was still plenty entertaining.
Tottenham didn't have to wait long to get the scoring started. In the eighth minute, after trading possession with Leicester for the opening minutes, Onomah fed Nacer Chadli into the penalty area. The Belgian's shot was parried away by Kasper Schmeichel, but fell to Christian Eriksen, who fired a low shot at the far post past the Leicester #1 to make it 1-0 for Spurs.
Six minutes later, Danny Rose drew a foul just outside the penalty area that resulted in Leicester defender Marcin Wasilewski being booked for the challenge. Christian Eriksen took the ensuing free kick and put it on net, but Schmeichel parried it away easily.
Tottenham's lead didn't last long, unfortunately. After conceding a corner in the 19th minute, Leicester City got their equalizer as newly signed Demarai Gray's corner kick found the head of Wasilewski. The Polish defender managed to lose Toby Alderweireld and deflected the ball into the net far post past Michel Vorm, who had no chance at stopping it.
Not even a minute after the equalizer, Heung-Min Son pushed up the pitch and delivered a low cross to Christian Eriksen. The Dane made great contact to put the ball on net, but Schmeichel saved it easily to kill the threat.
Tottenham controlled the rest of the first half, finding half chances as they continued to expose the flanks of Leicester City, but couldn't find a way to get a second goal before the half time whistle. Spurs finished the half with 76% of the possession and nine shots total, five of which were on target.
The second half did not continue in the same manner. After being subbed in at the half, Shinji Okazaki dribbled into the penalty area. He shrugged off Tom Carroll and got past Alderweireld, putting a shot on target that was saved by Michel Vorm. The rebound fell to Okazaki and he didn't miss the second attempt, slotting the ball near post to make it 2-1 Leicester City.
Tottenham had a chance in the 50th minute to equalize off of a Carroll corner kick. The initial attempt deflected to Eric Dier, who fired a pass to Chadli. The header attempt ended up being too high and went over the crossbar for a goal kick.
After fifteen minutes of back and forth that saw no real chances, Tottenham subbed in Harry Kane and Nabil Bentaleb for Tom Carroll and Eric Dier respectively, opting for a more attacking formation to push for the equalizer. Bentaleb would not get his shift off to a great start as he blasted a shot from about 35 yards out into the stands about sixty seconds after coming onto the pitch.
In the 73rd minute, Poche opted to use his final substitute, bringing on Dele Alli for Nacer Chadli. The move wouldn't result in any immediate payoff, though Tottenham found a couple of decent chances, both coming from Toby Alderweireld. The first chance came off of a Bat-Vlad style suicide run to the touch line, crossing the ball towards Kane and Son. The pass didn't find its target as Wasilewski cleared it away for a corner that Spurs ultimately did nothing with. The second chance was less threatening as Toby took a rip from thirty yards out but the ball curled high and away for another goal kick.
Tottenham turned up the pressing in the final ten minutes as Leicester opted to play eleven behind the ball for all intents and purposes. In the 85th minute, Harry Kane dribbled down the right flank and passed into the middle to find Bentaleb. The Algerian found a couple of yards of space and shot a curler towards the far post that was on target, but Kasper Schmeichel punched it away and the immediate threat ended.
Spurs' big break in the match came in the 88th minute as Danny Rose dribbled into the penalty area and attempted to get around Nathan Dyer. Rose made a move that forced Dyer to try and spin around to catch up and ended up hitting the ball out of the air with his hand. A penalty was awarded and Kasper Schmeiclhel received a yellow card for his subsequent complaining about the call. Harry Kane stepped up to the spot and fired the penalty home to level the match at 2-2 heading into stoppage time.
In the 92nd minute, Spurs won a free kick just outside the penalty area but Christian Eriksen's attempt to find a free man in the box was cleared out. Nabil Bentaleb committed a professional foul to stop the subsequent counter attack, earning a yellow card in the process. That was the final bit of action with the match ending level at 2-2, setting up a replay at King Power Stadium.
Thoughts on the match:
- Spurs dominated this match in long stretches. The final possession numbers were 73/27 in favor of Tottenham. It's a shame that it couldn't translate into a win.
- While Tottenham had 23 shots in the match, seven were on target and only two of those came in the second half.
- Toby Alderweireld has been one of Spurs best players this season, but today was not one of his better outings. He had partial responsibility in both goals, losing Wasilewski on the set piece goal and getting beat by Okazaki on the second one. He created a couple of chances late, but this will be a game film he'll want to burn.
- Josh Onomah put in one heck of a shift today. It's quite clear why Poche rates him so highly as he was great today. He still has some minor trouble keeping himself in control, but his work rate is excellent and he played well today.
- Happy to see Eriksen get a goal today, though I'm less happy about him playing the full 90 minutes. He looked about out of energy towards the end of the match.
- Nacer Chadli had an up and down match. While he was great early on and ultimately picks up the assist on Eriksen's goal, he was frustrating to watch sometimes. He managed to make great dribbles into the penalty area, but ultimately forgets to look for that final pass or attempts to blow through multiple defenders. While a couple of these resulted in corner kicks, most of the time it seemed to be just poor awareness of the situation and it ultimately cost Spurs chances in the end.
- There was a Nabil Bentaleb sighting today! However, it wasn't fantastic. The Algerian looked rusty and, outside of his curling shot attempt in the dying minutes of the match, he didn't do much.
- I think we're all very happy that Poche rotated heavily. Dier got pulled after 60+ minutes in preparation for Wednesday and just about every other key player got some form of rest today, with the exception of Eriksen.
- Death to replays, though. They're the worst. This one will be played at King Power either January 19 or 20. More midweek football.