While October is arguably the best month of the calendar year, it hasn't been overly kind to Tottenham Hotspur F.C. It all started off so well. A historically dominating performance against City on October 2nd catapulted Spurs to sole possession of second place in the Premier League and left us as its only unbeaten squad. We still hold that impressive feat, but somehow our current form isn't leaving Spurs supporters all warm and fuzzy inside. Middling performances against West Brom and Bournemouth has dropped us to fifth place in the league, while our cup matches were decent at best. An away draw against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League is nothing to scoff at, yet it wasn't the emphatic result everyone was hoping for, while our ousting from the EFL Cup by Liverpool, was predictable, but disappointing nonetheless. Anyway one spins it, three points in four matches is well short of a fine run in form.
Yet the one common denominator in those fixtures were that they were all away from home. Spurs return to the gemütlichkeit of White Hart Lane on Saturday to face-off against the, *gulp*, Premier League Champions; Leicester City. The Foxes have found their footing in an admittedly easy Champions League group, but haven't discovered that je ne sais quoi that they employed in abundance last term. Leicester sit twelfth in the Premier League with a pedestrian record of three wins, four losses, and two draws. That said, the Foxes haven't had the easiest of run-ins. Liverpool, Manchester United, Southhampton, Chelsea, Arsenal, and even Crystal Palace aren't the easiest of opponents and they have encountered them all in their first nine fixtures.
The Foxes desperately miss Ngolo Kanté and their side is a ghost of themselves without him. Their firepower going forward, though, remains the same. Vardy and Mahrez can be special on their day (what a bizarre thing to type for the former of those two players), especially on the counter, while Okazaki's work-rate and creativity can still cause havoc to defenses. Ahmed Musa, their record breaking £16 million pound signing, has struggled to find form since his transfer from CSKA Moscow, but the twenty-four year old Nigerian has real quality and, on his day, can change a match in the attacking third.
One examines the Leicester roster though, and it remains practically unchanged from last year. Drinkwater, Huth, Simpson, Fuchs, Morgan, and Albrighton are all salt of the earth Premier League mainstays and won a Premier League title with Leicester last year in an unthinkable fashion. To underestimate their professionalism and the threat they still pose would be folly for Tottenham Hotspur. The Foxes have never been a sexy side, but they certainly have the ability to grind out a point, or even three, if Spurs put forth a dispirited performance.
Tottenham are level on points with fourth placed Chelsea and just one point shy of the top spot that is held in a three way tie between City, Liverpool, and Arsenal. There is everything to play for in this match, not to mention furthering our undefeated Premier League streak. If there are any positives since the City game, its that the form of other top sides has been erratic as well. Nobody has staked claim as the alpha in the group thus far and the race is wide open. Three points, and a bit or retribution for Leicester City, would be a wonderful way to usher out an anomalous October.
How to Watch
Date/time: Saturday, October 29th, 2016, 3:00 p.m. (UK), 10:00 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: White Hart Lane, London, UK
Official: Bobby Madley
TV: CNBC (USA), BBC Radio (UK), TSN4, TSNGO (Canada), Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also often at BBC Radio London, BBC Radio 5 Live, and TalkSport
Tottenham Hotspur will continue to remain without two of their three most irreplaceable players (I'm looking at you Hugo) for Saturday's match. While Harry Kane and Toby Alderweireld's fitness is progressing nicely, they are unavailable for selection against the Foxes. Moussa Sissoko will also not be able to suit up as he begins his three match ban for elbowing Bournemouth's Harry Arter last week.
Other than that, Tottenham have a clean bill of health. The near term fixture list is tricky though. Spurs host Leverkusen at home on Wednesday in a crucial Champions League match and travel to South London to play Woolwich Arsenal, at the Emirates, next Saturday.
Save Eric Dier, Spurs deployed a fully rotated side against Liverpool on Tuesday, thus the backline should see Eric Dier slot into the center-back position, alongside Jan Vertonghen. Walker and Rose will man the flanks, with Hugo Lloris between the pipes.
Getting Mousa Dembélé back to his old self must be a priority for Poche, so I think he'll get another start next to Victor Wanyama in the double pivot. If Dembélé were to miss one of the next three matches, it'd make the most sense to sit him against Bayer, as he is wholly needed against the Scum. In this regard, sitting midweek and playing on both Saturdays is ideal.
With Sissoko out, and Nkoudou and Onomah probably not ready for primetime just yet, Spurs have a conundrum in terms of preserving energy in their attacking band for three important fixtures. With Son probably splitting time with Janssen at striker and Dele potentially roaming the double pivot for a match too, Spurs will struggle to find rest for Lamela, Alli, Son, and Eriksen. I think Dele and Eriksen start all three matches with Son, and possibly Lamela, rotating for one match each. Son's turn is tomorrow. Maybe I just have a soft spot for him, but I think Janssen deserves more chances and Poche will give him another one tomorrow. That means that the front four will see Janssen alone up top, with Eriksen, Dele, and Lamela playing behind.
Ben Daniels was the most presumptuous of the group with a 10-0 prediction, but the Masthead really showed their true and pathetic fanboy (and girl) colors last Saturday. Not one writer even entertained the idea of dropped points, with only Skipjack and Bryan A. hinting that the game might be tight. Toddlers ogling over ice cream we all are.
|Earl of Shoop||4|
Dustin Menno: We didn't beat Leicester last season. I really, really want to beat them this time. Because, y'know, fairy tale. 3-0 Spurs.
Matthew Pachniuk: Logic says another woeful draw is in store, but I am a true believer. More of the same, but we somehow manage a goal because we are at home and White Hart Lane is magical. Its hard to play football without your two best outfield players. 1-0 Spurs.
Bryan A.: Leicester have lost their last two matches against big clubs by a combined scored of 7-1. Spurs are a big club, I guess. So....7-1 Spurs.
Alex Greenberg: The frustration from Bournemouth (and from Leicester last season) hopefully boils over on Saturday and we just absolutely batter them. Much more likely, we limp to a 2-1 victory.
Salmon Chase: Have you guys ever wondered if Blu Cantrell is ever going to make that big comeback you predicted in 2011?
Yea I feel similarly when I think "are we going to lose this game"?
Pardeep Cattry: This could probably be a game we should win. So were the games against West Brom and Bournemouth. Tottenham draw 1-1.
GN Punk: I've never been a fan of fairy tales. Thankfully it looks like Leicester aren't going to do a sequel, but we still need to break this little scoring drought. Let's thrash them. Spurs 2-0.
Skipjack: 1-1 for Spurs in what is sure to be a fairy tale ending for Lester.
Earl of Shoop: Fairy tale's over, Fighting Lesters. They don't deserve nice things and last season was an abomination and an affront to all that is good in this world. Our boys set things back in order by avenging a very frustrating 15-16 head-to-head record. Spurs 3-1.
Brian Meyers: The universe is going to continue to mock us as the Foxes have a great game against Spurs. 1-1 tie.
Ben Daniels: Leicester are a blight upon the premier league. It is our sacred duty to relegate them. This is no place for fairy tales. 2-0 Spurs.
Brian Mechanick: Leicester is looking strong in Champions League and not as strong in the league. Spurs are in a bit of a rut. I have unenthusiastic feelings about this one. 1-1 Draw.
Jake Meador: 1-1 draw and more frustration. Toby and Kane, come back soon please.