After unnecessarily writing previews for both Burnley (snow) and Rennes (Covid), I have a little apprehension posting about another match that very well could be postponed, but as of this moment it does appear that Tottenham Hotspur is trending in the right direction to play for the first time in 11 days.
The whole situation is extremely complicated with pros and cons on both sides. Spurs will end up much less busy than expected during the normally frantic festive period, but this means future fixture congestion, regardless of European competition or not. This break might have been seen as a benefit under a new manager, but perhaps the squad would want to keep rolling with its recent form. Of course, Covid renders all of this moot, as the virus must be taken seriously and there was simply no responsible way to have played either Rennes or Brighton.
So should Thursday go on as planned, Tottenham will technically be riding a three-match win streak in the league, collecting 10 of 12 points with Antonio Conte at the helm, having outscored opponents 7-1. Leicester City, however, will be the toughest opponent the manager will have faced, coming in just three points behind the visitors (though with more matches played).
Leicester City (t-8th, 22 pts) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (7th, 25pts)
Date: Thursday, December 16
Time: 2:30 pm ET, 7:30 pm UK
Location: King Power Stadium, Leicester, England
TV: Peacock Premium (USA), BT Sport 3 (UK)
The table is going to look weird for some time, as Spurs will carry a couple matches in hand for a bit. While it is never safe to assume these as wins, the reality is that this club is essentially in the driver’s seat for fourth right now. To carry that into the new year requires success against Leicester, then finding something against Liverpool this weekend.
Under Conte the attack has come to life, scoring multiple goals in each of the past three outings and finally demonstrating some actual desire and cohesion, involving the wingbacks and midfielders especially well. There is a great opportunity against the Foxes who are among the leakiest defenses in the league, having allowed at least 2.0 xG in three of their last five.
On the other end, the defense has allowed just a single goal in four matches and has settled comfortably into a back three. Missing Cristian Romero continues to hurt, but Ben Davies and Eric Dier have really made the most of the starting nods they have been given. Davinson Sanchez remains the one to watch, but perhaps his goal against Norwich will buy him some more time. Leicester does own one of the league’s best scoring tallies, so expect action on both ends of the pitch.
- The biggest story will be Spurs’ fitness. It is still not clear exactly who had Covid and who has recovered, so there may be some interesting lineup decisions. With a big match on Sunday as well, Conte will need to juggle which pieces are even available to him. The squad’s depth will certainly be tested over the next couple weeks.
- Last season brought more memorable fixtures between the two clubs, as supporters have come to expect. Leicester won 0-2 in North London, but it was Spurs who got the last laugh on the final day of the season. Down by 2-1 with just 15 minutes to go, Tottenham got an own goal to level it, then a late, late Gareth Bale brace grabbed the win, cementing a finish above Arsenal for the fifth-straight season and knocking the home side out of the top four.
- As a result, Leicester settled for fifth and a Europa League bid. However, a tough campaign resulted in the Foxes falling from the top two spots in their group on the final matchday which dropped them down into the Conference League knockout round playoffs. Spurs may too be participating in this phase depending on what UEFA decides to do.