Tottenham host the exciting Leeds United as they look to end their four-game winless run in the Premier League and start the New Year on the right note.
After being part of a prospective title race a few weeks ago, Tottenham find themselves in 7th place after failing to win in their last four games in the Premier League. While losses to Liverpool and Leicester City are still understandable, it were the draws versus Wolverhampton Wanderers and Crystal Palace that were more disappointing.
Tottenham’s ability to break difficult defences and also to kill the game after taking the lead were both found out in recent weeks. Jose Mourinho’s conservative approach versus the non-top 6 teams has gained the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Leeds United, on the other hand, find themselves on a two-game win streak after their 6-2 drubbing against Manchester United. Leeds have scored 6 goals and conceded none in the last two and will look to build on that as they aim to enter the top half of the league table.
Marcelo Bielsa has admitted that Tottenham are a tough opponent to face but seems to relish the tactical battle that awaits him. This match could be an exciting one where Bielsa’s free-flowing attack-minded Leeds face Jose’s well-drilled and clinical Tottenham side, a game between the sides of two truly world-class managers.
Team News & Tactics
A game versus Leeds could be very similar to Spurs’ game versus Southampton earlier this season. Leeds’ extensive attacking approach could play right into the hands of Tottenham who would hope for Son Heung-min to flourish with acres of space. We can certainly expect a lot of goals from this game.
Tottenham are expected to revert to a back four after playing a back three versus Wolves. Ben Davies is expected to drop to the bench with Sergio Reguilon taking the left-back spot. Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld will start centrally with Serge Aurier likely to get the nod ahead of Matt Doherty for the right-back spot.
Tottenham’s unsung hero, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is expected to start in his deep midfield role, with Moussa Sissoko coming in for Harry Winks who started the previous game. Tanguy Ndombele, who impressed in the draw against Wolves, is expected to start with Giovani Lo Celso out injured.
Son Heung-min and Harry Kane should lead the Tottenham attack with either of Erik Lamela and Steven Bergwijn starting on the right. With Leeds expected to dominate more of the ball, Mourinho could give Bergwijn the nod to catch Leeds out on transitions as they often leave spaces in behind their midfield.
Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius have returned to full fitness but are expected to stay on the bench. Gareth Bale remains sidelined with a calf injury.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon; Sissoko, Hojbjerg; Bergwijn, Ndombele, Son; Kane
Leeds have made a name for themselves in the Premier League for their entertaining brand of football. The Whites have shipped thirty goals this season, which is the second-worst defensive record in the league. However, they have also scored thirty on the other end which is only bettered by three other clubs.
Seven of Leeds’ 10 outfield players either scored or assisted against West Brom 💥
Bielsa’s boys put on a show 🍿 pic.twitter.com/mdqUp1VqjR
— Goal (@goal) December 29, 2020
Leeds have an extended list of injuries with them being particularly depleted at the back. While Robin Koch and Diego Llorente are out for a long time, captain Liam Cooper, too, is out with an abdomen injury. Midfield maestro Mateusz Klich remains a doubt after picking up a knock on his thigh in the game versus West Brom.
Ezgjan Alioski and Stuart Dallas are expected to start as the two full-backs after impressive attacking performances. Luke Ayling and Pascal Struijk have impressed in their previous two outings, keeping clean sheets in both. However, the likes of Kane and Son pose a completely different challenge and it will be interesting to see how the defensive pairing deal with the League’s most prolific duo.
Kalvin Phillips will retain his defensive midfield role, with Jack Harrison and Raphina expected to cause Tottenham trouble on the wings. Rodrigo, who is seemingly being used in a more deeper role than he would prefer, is expected to be partnered by the young Jamie Shackleton who could replace the injured Klich.
Patrick Bamford is expected to start versus Tottenham despite starting against West Brom too. The Leeds frontman is expected to lead the charge for Bielsa’s men.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Dallas, Ayling, Struijk, Alioski; Phillips; Raphinha, Shackleton, Rodrigo, Harrison; Bamford
- Tottenham to win @ 1.72
- Under 2.5 Match Goals @ 2.75
- Leeds are Harry Kane’s 30th Premier League opposition. The Spurs striker has scored against all the other 29 sides he has faced, which makes him the only player to have scored against all the opponents he’s played against.
- Jose Mourinho has only lost one of his 27 Premier League home games versus newly-promoted sides (W21, D5), losing only against Bournemouth when he was at Chelsea in December 2015.
- This is Mourinho’s first encounter versus Leeds in his career in England. However, he has won all four of his clashes with Marcelo Bielsa leading with an aggregate of 15-2 from their time in Spain.
- Leeds have won four of their eight away league games this season which is already more than the number of games they won in their previous Premier League season in 2003/04 (3).
- This is the first clash between Tottenham and Leeds United since 2013 when they met in the FA Cup. Leeds prevailed with a scoreline of 2-1
Player to Watch
🏹 Tottenham's Son Heung-Min converted 65% of his clear-cut chances in the Premier League in 2020, the best return of those to have had at least five pic.twitter.com/EC7LtMvSZP
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) December 31, 2020
The last time Son played against a side that likes to press and leave spaces at the back, he scored four whopping goals against Southampton. With Leeds expected to throw men forward, Son is expected to enjoy a lot of space and time.
He has been absolutely prolific this season, outperforming his xG by a massive six goals. Given the form that the South Korean is in, he is expected to make Leeds pay and duly deliver.
Tottenham 3 – 1 Leeds United
This clash has all the signs of an end-to-end entertaining match-up. While Leeds’ relentless pressing could yield them dividends, Tottenham’s deadly counter-attacks against a suspect Whites’ defence could be more crucial.
Leeds often lose the ball cheaply in their own defensive third, and those giveaways could hurt them against a side like Tottenham who know how to take their chances. Manchester United hurt Leeds similarly a fortnight ago. And Tottenham should be able to break their run of bad results and deliver a win on their home turf this weekend.