Tottenham Hotspur had their first chance to face title holders Leicester City this season at White Hart Lane on Saturday, needing to get a result to keep pace with the logjam at the top of the table. Ultimately, while Spurs controlled the match, one mistake cost them two points as the North Londoners could only muster a 1-1 draw on Matchday #10.
It took awhile before either side seemed to get a chance. In the 13th minute, Christian Eriksen rifled in a dangerous corner that bounced to Dele Alli outside the penalty area. Dele fired a rocket on net that Kasper Schmeichel punched away to kill the chance. A couple minutes later, Danny Rose got into the attacking action with a volley attempt, forcing Schmeichel into a smothering save.
Eriksen had another chance to put Spurs up in the 20th minute after a poor challenge by Robert Huth. The Danish International’s ensuing free kick looked good off his foot, but went just wide of the post and a diving Schmeichel, keeping the score at 0-0.
Leicester’s first real chance of the match eventually came 33 minutes in. Riyad Mahrez, who was quiet for those first thirty minutes, curled a beautiful cross into the penalty area and found Shinji Okazaki’s head. Fortunately for Spurs, Okazaki’s header harmlessly went over the crossbar.
Spurs continued to push forward, again winning a free kick about 30 yards from net. Eriksen’s kick was on net but no trouble for Schmeichel again.
Arguably Spurs best chance from open play in the first half came in the 40th minute. Dele Alli found the ball at his feet at the top of the penalty area, managing to get a great shot off that beat Schmeichel but only found the top of the crossbar.
Spurs finally found the score sheet just before halftime. Vincent Janssen posted up in the penalty area on Robert Huth and, while attempting to juggle the ball into a shooting position, was pushed down to the ground for a stonewall penalty. The Dutch International stepped up for the penalty kick and blasted it right down the middle to give the home side a 1-0 lead going into the break.
The one goal lead didn’t last long as Leicester City broke on a counter attack after a bad giveaway by Wanyama in the 48th minute. Jamie Vardy drew the attention and played a great pass to a charging Ahmed Musa, giving the Nigerian International the chance to put the ball in the net and level the match at one goal each.
Possession went back and forth the next 20 minutes, with both sides having small chances with a lot of blocked shots. Leicester seemed happy to bunker down and play counter attack, letting Spurs have 70% possession going into the final twenty minutes of the match. The start of the final 20 minutes yielded a great chance for Spurs as Dele drew a foul 20 yards away from net. Janssen opted to take the free kick, but curled the attempt just over the crossbar.
Janssen had another big chance in the 75th minute, posting up again on Robert Huth. A fantastic turn gave the Dutchman a sliding chance that left Schmeichel flat footed. Unfortunately it rolled just wide of the post.
The continued to be Spurs’ worst enemy in this match in the dying moments. Heung-Min Son crossed a beautiful ball into the penalty area in the 85th minute that found an open Jan Vertonghen. The header had plenty of power, but again ended up as a shot off the crossbar to deny Spurs the winner. Verts had a second chance in stoppage time with a long distance blast that ultimately curled wide of the net. One final chance came at the end of the match with Rose taking a last ditch shot that hit the side netting, sealing the result of the match.
Thoughts on the Match:
- The iron wasn’t kind to Tottenham today. This match could have easily had three or four goals for Spurs, but it was just one of those days.
- Victor Wanyama has had some great performances this season. This was not one of them and I still do not know what he was thinking on the Leicester goal.
- Vincent Janssen put in another productive shift up top today, earning the penalty and getting the goal. I thought for certain he scored on that wonderful turn.
- I have to be critical of Poch’s decision not to substitute until after 80 minutes had gone by. This game was screaming for a change in the attacking band and N’Koudou did that, but he barely had any time and I feel like if that sub came sooner, Spurs would have pulled ahead.
- I try not to rag on referees, given I’ve been one for various sports for almost 20 years. That being said, center official Bobby Madley had an awful match and I never want to see him in another Spurs match again. I could go into great detail here, but I don’t think I have to, do I? The fact that Huth and Morgan both escaped without any bookings sums it up.
- Sometimes I hate football. I wanted so badly to beat Leicester and we end up with our third draw in a row.
- It’s officially NLD week, but we have a Champions League fixture in between, so let’s erase this match from our memory and focus on Bayer and Arsenal.