After 21 matches in just over three months, Tottenham Hotspur has made it to the end of a wild start to the season. The schedule will not be substantially less busy after the World Cup, but no one would deny this break is needed, even if most of the key players will not find much rest never the next seven weeks.
The final fixture until Boxing Day is a visit from Leeds United, who sits midtable but is always liable for some excitement. Spurs are of course in bad form (this is the one and only reference to Wednesday’s debacle), but that has kind of been the case for much of the season, at least when it comes to performance versus results.
Still, a win on Saturday puts Tottenham in the top four to go with a first-place Champions League group finish and a tough, but winnable tie against AC Milan in the Round of 16. That is all that anyone could have asked for at the start of the year, which does not even account for an essentially absent Heung-Min Son and injuries to Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison. Anyway, just see this one out!
Tottenham Hotspur (4th, 26pts) vs. Leeds United (t-12th, 15pts)
Date: Saturday, November 12
Time: 10:00 am ET, 3:00 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
TV: Peacock Premium (USA)
Leeds had a tough 2021/22 season, just barely avoiding relegation. Goals were hard to come by while the defense was near league-worst, turning the typical fun chaos into just plain sadness. Jesse Marsch has got the club in slightly better shape this year; though there are still opportunities to improve defensively, at least the scoring has to come back to average (and seventh per xG).
The last two league fixtures have delivered six points with wins over Liverpool and Bournemouth. That stopped a skid of four straight losses, however, which was part of a dreadful 0-2-6 stretch. Leeds does have a win over Chelsea though, and outplayed Arsenal in October, so Spurs could easily become the next victim.
- Nov 2021: 2-1 win, home (Hojbjerg, Reguilon)
- Feb 2022: 0-4 win, away (Doherty, Kulusevski, Kane, Son)
Last Feburary’s win was perhaps the clearest picture of what this squad can look like when everything is going right: wingbacks connecting for a goal, individual brilliance from Kulusevski, a goal that only Kane can make look easy, and a quintessential Kane-Son quick strike to set the Premier League partnership record, not to mention a clean sheet to top it all off.
This Tottenham team looks similar on paper but is obviously operating far from that right now, and this Leeds side is also not quite as helpless. There is still reason to believe that Antonio Conte can get Spurs back to this level of execution, but that clearly is not going to happen suddenly by this weekend.
Instead, Tottenham needs to just gut out 90 minutes and find a way to secure three points as the long World Cup break mercifully arrives. Leeds should offer a few chances on net, and hopefully it does not take until the second half — or yet another early deficit — for Spurs to take the opportunity. Either way, the end of this stretch is almost here.