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Tottenham Hotspur vs. Leicester City Preview: The Danger Zone

One point in two matches have put Spurs’ top-four hopes on life support.

Leicester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images

The last two weeks have been terrible for Tottenham Hotspur, full of two lifeless performances while rival Arsenal has charged back into fourth place. With the North London Derby rapidly approaching, Spurs still control their own destiny, but the squad can really not afford any more duds over the final five matches.

There is no sugarcoating the terrible outings against Brighton and Brentford, but if there is one source of hope it is that the next three opponents — Leicester City, Liverpool, and Arsenal — are all likely to play a style that suits Antonio Conte’s side quite better. Defensively, Tottenham has remained stout, but there have been very few looks at goal against these sort of teams.

Perhaps a date with Leicester will be exactly the remedy Spurs need. The fixture has typically yielded a decent amount of activity, including January’s memorable comeback via Steven Bergwijn that featured a season-high 3.7 xG. Goals must come this weekend as there is no other way to put it: Tottenham needs to win.

Tottenham Hotspur (5th, 58pts) vs. Leicester City (10th, 42pts)

Date: Sunday, May 1
Time: 9:00 am ET, 12:00 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
TV: Peacock Premium (USA)

It has not been the desired season for Leicester, as a mid-table finish is all but assured. The scoring is there, but the defending has not, with the Foxes fourth-worst in xGA this season in the league. They are still alive in the Conference League semis after dropping down from the Europa League, and a decisive fixture at Roma next week could have them distracted on Sunday.

Leicester are very likely to prioritize the Conference League and will need a result after a 1-1 home draw on Thursday. Spurs have not always capitalized against less motivated clubs, but the combination of fatigue, focus, and style of play should at least yield more scoring opportunities than the past two weekends. With how the team is structured, a more open match should leave a pretty realistic path to victory.

Three points are vital, but so is waking up the front three for the run-in. This has been a terrible time for Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son to go dry, and Dejan Kulusevski has significantly slowed down as well, perhaps in part due to the absence of Matt Doherty. Leicester seems like the perfect wake-up call for Kane, and if it does not happen this weekend then Spurs might just be out of luck.

Three themes

  1. There are not a ton of options for Conte to try to spice things up, but wingback has to be the first place he turns. Emerson Royal is not Doherty, and maybe a winger is move on the right. With Sergio Reguilon out, hopefully Ryan Sessegnon can hit a nice stretch of form over the final month, as he has felt a bit lacking during the team’s slump as well.
  2. It is always worth remembering the meeting earlier in Leicester. Kane bagged his 250th Tottenham goal in the first half, but it was all about the substitute Bergwijn. After putting in the equalizer in the last minute of stoppage time, Bergwijn incredibly snatched the winner shortly after the ensuing kickoff for one of the most unfathomable comebacks ever.
  3. Every match is crucial at this point, but with a trip to Anfield next weekend, Spurs need to bank all three points here. Arsenal visit West Ham (who are also preoccupied with European football right now) later Sunday and get Leeds next week. The derby will be awfully rough if Tottenham enters down more than three points, though that seems highly possible.