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LEICESTER CITY

v

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

King Power Stadium, Leicester
Friday 26th Dec, 2014, 15:00 GMT 

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Leicester will spend Christmas at the bottom of the Premier League and history tells us that only twice have teams who filled that unwanted position at this time of year survived come the end of the campaign, West Brom a decade ago, and Sunderland 12 months ago. if Leicester are to join that elite group, and not actually become marooned, they need some points over the Christmas period but with their game against Tottenham followed by away trips to Hull and Liverpool, it’s not an ideal programme. Hull might be the Foxes’ closest relegation rivals but the fact Nigel Pearson left the Tigers for Leicester in 2011 could prove another off-field distraction following his recent fan altercation and subsequent misconduct charge.Since beating Manchester United back in September, Leicester’s only points from 12 league games have been home draws against lowly Burnley and Sunderland, they urgently need to improve before it’s too late.

With twelve goals in his last 17 games, the development of Harry Kane is rapidly becoming the story of Tottenham’s season. Backed up by midfield duo Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb, head coach Mauricio Pochettino is basing his Spurs project on home-grown talent like he did at Southampton and it’s been a long time since Tottenham fans had any local stars to cheer on. It has taken the Argentine time to impose his pressing game, but one defeat in six league matches suggest he is getting there. Even last season’s so-called expensive flops are showing signs of settling in. Christian Eriksen, who showed glimpses last season, has impressed all campaign, Nacer Chadli is Spurs’ second-highest scorer, while £30m man Erik Lamela scored his first Premier League goal last weekend.This Tottenham side are also putting in a shift in each of their previous three away victories they have scored last-ditch winners. Their top-four hopes still look a little way off but the League Cup semi-finalists are also through to the last 32 of the Europa League, a cup could be well within their grasp this season.

Team news and tactical brief

Leicester City

Leicester continue to be without first-choice goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel as he recovers from a broken metatarsal. Top scorer Leonardo Ulloa could be recalled as the Foxes look to end a two-match goal drought. Chris Wood is a doubt for struggling Leicester after leaving training early because of an infection on Tuesday. The striker will be assessed ahead of Tottenham’s trip to the King Power Stadium but has not started for the Foxes since their Capital One Cup defeat to Shrewsbury in August. Matt Upson is expected to make his return from a foot injury in the New Year while Kasper Schmeichel remains out with a broken metatarsal he suffered in training. Nigel Pearson knows how to pull off a great escape but the Leicester boss insists there are no quick fixes to save the Foxes. They are bottom of the Barclays Premier League at Christmas ahead of the Boxing Day visit of Tottenham. Only two sides have ever survived being bottom on December 25 – Sunderland last season and West Brom in 2005. And Pearson was Bryan Robson’s assistant when the Baggies became the first team in Premier League history to survive the traditional relegation. They stayed up on the final day of the 2004-05 season with the lowest ever points total to beat the drop, 34. Now, Leicester are winless in 12 games and five points from safety and Pearson insisted they must match the Baggies’ ethic and strength to survive.

Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson will be hoping to record his team’s first win in 13 games when they host Tottenham Hotspur on Boxing Day. Since beating Manchester United on September 21, the Foxes have endured a dismal run that has seen them fall five points from safety in the Premier League table. That streak, which has included nine defeats in their last 10 outings, has resulted in Pearson’s role at the club coming under threat but the 51-year-old remains positive heading into the New Year. Strike duo David Nugent and Leonardo Ulloa are pushing for a start at the King Power Stadium after substitute appearances against West Ham United.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-5-1): Hamer(GK); Simpson, Wasilewski, Morgan, Konchesky; Vardy, Mahrez, Cambiasso, King, Schlupp; Ulloa

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Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino is hopeful Ryan Mason will be fit. The 23-year-old midfielder has established himself in Pochettino’s side in recent weeks but was forced off during Saturday’s 2-1 win over Burnley with a twisted ankle. But Pochettino revealed the issue is not as bad as first feared and is now in contention for the game at the King Power Stadium, as is striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who has not featured since early November. After a shaky start to the campaign, Pochettino now has his side playing some good football and, with a Capital One Cup semi-final against Sheffield United and a Europa League tie against Fiorentina on the horizon, Spurs sit just four points outside the Barclays Premier League’s top four.

United States international DeAndre Yedlin will link up with the squad in the new year after a deal was originally struck with his current club Seattle Sounders in August. But the 21-year-old is likely to be one for the future and, although Pochettino has been linked with a string of central defenders, he insists he would be happy if he is left with his current crop come February 1. An improved run of form has seen Spurs make progress up the standings in recent weeks as well as continuing their run in both the Europa League and League Cup. Head coach Mauricio Pochettino has been forced to rotate his squad for much of the campaign but he is unlikely to make many alterations for the trip to the East Midlands. Benjamin Stambouli could replace Ryan Mason, who went off injured in the 2-1 win over Burnley, while striker Emmanuel Adebayor may return to the squad after not featuring since November 9 but captain Younes Kaboul is set to miss out again.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1):Lloris(GK); Davies, Vertonghen, Fazio, Walker; Stambouli, Bentaleb; Chadli, Eriksen, Lamela; Kane

Key Facts

  • Tottenham claimed victory on their last visit to Leicester during the 2003-04 season, when a last-minute Freddie Kanoute goal secured a 2-1 comeback win
  • Twenty-eight goals have been scored in the last six meetings between Leicester and Spurs in all competitions (almost five goals per game)
  • Leicester are in the middle of a 12-game winless streak, the worst current run in the Premier League (D2, L10)
  • The Foxes have kept only two clean sheets all season – only Stoke have kept as few
  • Nigel Pearson’s men have taken points from five of eight home games, yet secured just one victory in the process (D4, L3)
  • Leicester have not been beaten on Boxing Day in 10 years, since a 1-0 home Championship defeat to Rotherham in 2004
  • Tottenham have won two matches in a row, but they are yet to win three successive Premier League matches under Mauricio Pochettino
  • Only the top two of Chelsea (18) and Manchester City (20) have claimed more away points than Tottenham (14)
  • Twelve of Spurs’ 17 league games have produced three of more goals (71%), including eight of their last nine matches
  • Tottenham are unbeaten in their last nine Premier League matches on Boxing Day (W6, D3)

Players to Watch Out For

Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)

The 21-year old has been one of the better players for Spurs this season scoring goals in both domestic and European fixtures. With twelve goals in his last 17 games,the youngster has created plenty of chances for his teammates including one direct assist. Tottenham are struggling to find the back of the net this season and Harry Kane might be the man to make a difference tonight.

Esteban Cambiasso (Leicester City)

Former Inter Milan legend and Argentine international Esteban Cambiasso will play a vital role if Leicester are to succeed in the midfield battle with Spurs. The signing of the Argentine was a huge coup for Leicester because of his reputation and experience. His experience in big games could be decisive in this busy schedule of tough games.

Prediction

Leicester City 1–2 Tottenham Hotspur

Leicester are rock-bottom of the table having lost their last 5 matches in a row and taken only 2 points from the last available 36. After what had been a promising start to the season they are starting to look doomed. They may take hope from Sunderland who, last season, were 20th with 10 points at Christmas and went on to survive.Their visitors on Boxing Day are a Tottenham side who are starting to show signs of becoming the high intensity team Mauricio Pochettino wants them to be. They have won 4 of their last 6 league games and thrashed Newcastle 4-0 last week to make it into the Capital One Cup semi final. Confidence looks to be building. Spurs struggle against deep defences but Nigel Pearson isn’t the kind of manager to set his team up like that, and his tactics could suit the visitors, who have won a lot of games recently by a 2-1 scoreline.

Blast From the Past

Leicester City came back from 2 goals down to record a memorable 3-2 win in 2006 FA Cup 3rd Round against Spurs.