In a critical six-pointer match at White Hart Lane, Tottenham Hotspur had plenty of opportunity to take advantage of others dropping points but ultimately succumbed to fellow top four contender Leicester City, 1-0.
The match started out with both teams showing that they were willing to press one another. Spurs took control after the first couple of minutes with their first real chance coming on a Dele Alli attempt from 25 yards out. The shot went just past a diving Kasper Schmeichel, but wide of the post as well.
In the ninth minute, Lamela fired a corner kick into the box that found the head of Toby Alderweireld. The Belgian made good contact on the ball, but Schmeichel was up to the challenge and flipped the ball over the crossbar. The ensuing corner kick resulted in no real chance, ending the threat.
Leicester had an opportunity to break the deadlock in the 22nd minute as a ball into the box by Kante found the feet of Shinji Okazaki, but the Japanese International had to spin around to get to the ball, giving Alderweireld enough time to kick the ball away to Eric Dier, who cleared it out to end the chance.
Four minutes later, Danny Drinkwater put a volleyed shot on target with plenty of pace. It could have easily resulted in a goal, but Hugo Lloris went full extension to parry the ball away for a corner. Leicester's ensuing corner attempts were harmless, with Spurs clearing the threat out for the time being.
The next chance for Tottenham came in the 31st minute as Christian Eriksen found a yard of space just outside of the penalty area. His curling attempt headed for the lower corner, but Schmeichel again made the save to keep the score level. Spurs weren't done after that as, after a couple minutes of possession, Erik Lamela pushed into the penalty area and ripped a cross in for Harry Kane, but just missed the striker. The rest of the half was fairly uneventful and resulted in a 0-0 half time score.
Leicester had the first good opportunity of the second half just three minutes in as a ball came into the box at the feet of both Okazaki and Jamie Vardy. Vardy ended up with the ball and shot it, which was deflected by Jan Vertonghen over the crossbar.
Tottenham's first chance of the second half came in the 56th minute. Ben Davies pushed down the left flank and put a low ball into the penalty area that found Erik Lamela. The Argentine took a shot at the far post that was deflected away and rolled just wide of the net.
A scary moment for the Tottenham defense came in the 60th minute as Kyle Walker attempted to play a back pass to Hugo Lloris but almost completely whiffed on the pass, leaving Jamie Vardy one on one with Hugo Lloris. The Frenchman came out to challenge and poked the ball away before upending Vardy, killing off what could have been a major error.
Not even a minute later, Tottenham had their best moment to break the match open. Erik Lamela played in Harry Kane on a beautiful through ball. The ensuing attempt was saved enough by Schmeichel, though it was by the slimmest of margins as the ball took a high bounce and caromed off the crossbar.
With possession being traded back and forth for the next ten minutes, Tottenham's next chance didn't come until the 75th minute as Lamela got on the end of a cross but the shot ended up over the crossbar.
Another scary moment was weathered just a minute later as Leicester had a few chances in the penalty area. The biggest chance was handled by Jan Vertonghen, but there was definitely some luck involved as the Foxes could have easily pulled ahead. Either way, Spurs escaped unscathed with fifteen minutes to play and the score still level with no goals on the board.
Dele Alli gave Tottenham another chance in the 79th minute with a low line drive from 20 yards out that Schmeichel parried away with no rebound attempt.
The breakthrough in the match finally came in the 83rd minute. Kyle Walker conceded a corner kick that came across the penalty area to a wide open Robert Huth. As the ball came in, Alderweireld and Dier collided, freeing up Huth. The center back didn't even have to jump for the ball as he put a powerful header into the far top corner to break the goalless match.
Tottenham had one last half opportunity as Josh Onomah came on late and spearheaded a final push in the 92nd minute, flipping the ball into the penalty area that would be punched out. Alderweireld attempted to cross the ball back into the box but would put the ball into the stands to end any opportunity. There were no further chances and the match would end in a 1-0 defeat.
With Matchday 21 in the books, Tottenham are still in fourth place on 36 points, seven back of Arsenal and Leicester, who are level on points at 43. Manchester City sit third at 40 points while West Ham are now nipping at the heels of Tottenham, just one point back in fifth place.
THOUGHTS ON THE MATCH
- There's no getting around it: This one really hurts. Spurs had a huge opportunity to solidify their Top 4 status, but now find themselves just one point clear of West Ham and two points clear of Manchester United. With Arsenal, United, and City all dropping points, this is a missed opportunity.
- While Spurs had the bulk of the possession, there were a lot of chances for both teams to score throughout the entire match. It's crazy that there was only one goal scored.
- Spurs out-shot Leicester, 21-10 and 5-2 on target. Spurs also had 16 corners to Leicester's eight, but have nothing to show for it.
- On any other day, Harry Kane's attempt in the 61st minute goes in. It was a beautiful play all around and it still blows me away that it didn't go in.
- Building off of that, you have to tip your hat to Kasper Schmeichel. He made a few outstanding saves today to give keep the clean sheet.
- Kyle Walker's back pass probably caused numerous hearts to skip a beat.
- While we're used to subs coming on later than normal, I feel that Son and Dembele were brought on too late to try and change the course of the match.