Tottenham Hotspur will set their sights on the UEFA Europa League as they lock horns with Leicester City in the final Premier League game on Sunday.
The final matchday of the 2020/21 edition of the Premier League offers us various important encounter in the context of the race for the European places. One of the most important of them takes place at the King Power Stadium as Leicester City welcome Europa League hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur.
Embroiled in the race for Champions League places, the hosts Leicester City could be on the verge of missing out on the coveted competition after slipping out of the top four, thanks to a defeat to Chelsea.
As a result, Brendan Rodgers’ men, in order to finish inside the top four, must seal all three points against, while also hoping that Liverpool drop points in their final day encounter against Crystal Palace.
Tottenham Hotspur, on the other hand, have no chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season, but they are indeed gunning for a place in the Europa League this weekend.
The Lilywhites are currently seventh in the league table, with 59 points on the board. They could finish in the top six, in the event of a victory against Leicester City, although they also need West Ham to lose against Southampton.
On the flip side, the north London giants could potentially slip to ninth in the table, should Arsenal and Everton both win their respective matches against Brighton and Manchester City respectively – ruling them out of Europe completely.
The permutations might be a bit complicated, but there is no doubt that both Tottenham and Leicester City will be keen on securing those three points, and here, at the Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look ahead of their blockbuster encounter at the King Power Stadium this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
— Leicester City 🏆 (@LCFC) May 21, 2021
Brendan Rodgers has some key decisions to make as far as the team selection is concerned, as Jonny Evans is set to miss out due to injury. It means Timothy Castagne might once again have to feature on the right hand side of the three-man backline alongside Caglar Soyuncu and Wesley Fofana.
Wes Morgan is a more natural alternative, but the veteran is unlikely to be risked against the Tottenham front three due to his lack of pace. Rodgers may also opt for the safer approach at right wingback by giving Ricardo Pereira the nod ahead of the more attack-minded Marc Albrighton.
Luke Thomas, on the other hand, remains a guaranteed starter on the opposite. The presence of these two wingbacks are going to play a vital role in offering the midfielders in Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans the additional passing options in possession.
During defensive stances, they could also form the second line of press to protect the back three, with Ndidi likely to drop deeper and act as an auxiliary centre-back. It could, in turn, see James Maddison joining Tielemans in the middle of the park.
The Englishman otherwise will be tasked with the responsibility of offering the creative essence to Leicester City’s attacking game. His proficiency from set-pieces, in particular, could cause problems for the Tottenham backline while the former Norwich City star will also hope to find runners like Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho with his forward balls.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Schmeichel; Castagne, Soyuncu, Fofana; Pereira, Ndidi, Tielemans, Thomas; Maddison; Iheanacho, Vardy
Ryan Mason made some noticeable changes in his starting eleven, during the midweek game over Aston Villa. Japhet Tanganga had to start at right-back due to the absence of Serge Aurier, but the youngster picked up a nasty injury and has been ruled out for this game.
Aurier, on the other hand, remains a doubt, although we do expect him to recover in time to start ahead of Matt Doherty. This will be the only defensive change in the team, with Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier and Sergio Reguilon completing the four-man backline for the visitors.
🎙 Ryan Mason speaks ahead of the final game of the 2020/21 season.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 21, 2021
One of the key overall changes in midweek was the inclusion of Harry Winks in midfield. The Englishman ended up having a poor game, potentially tempting Mason to recall the much more creative Giovani Lo Celso in the middle of the park, alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
The Dane should operate in a deeper role, hoping to act as the enforcer in the double-pivot. He will, though, need the additional support of his partnering midfield, if he is to avoid being overrun by the likes of Tielemans and Ndidi.
That is where Dele Alli comes into the fray. The playmaker has enjoyed a slight little renaissance under Mason, featuring in the last few matches, ahead of Tanguy Ndombele and Lucas Moura.
Although likely to start in the number ten position, it won’t be surprising to see Alli help out Hojbjerg and Lo Celso during the defensive phases. He will, otherwise, look to make driving runs forward, or to find runners like Son Heung-Min Harry Kane and Gareth Bale in behind the Leicester City backline.
It will be interesting to see whether Mason opts to start with Steven Bergwijn, though, as the Dutchman was quite impressive in midweek. However, the interim manager does favour Bale a lot, so the former PSV winger might have to settle for an appearance from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon; Hojbjerg, Lo Celso; Bale, Alli, Son; Kane
1. Harry Kane to score anytime @ 1.90
1. Tottenham to win @ 3.40
- Leicester City have won two of their last three league games against Tottenham (L1), as many as they had in their previous 12. They’re looking to complete their first league double over Spurs since 1998-99.
- Tottenham have only failed to score in one of their 14 Premier League away games against Leicester, finding the net in each of their last 11 visits. However, Spurs have also only kept two clean sheets at the Foxes in the competition.
- After winning their final league game in seven consecutive seasons between 2008/09 and 2014/15, Leicester City have failed to win any of their last five season finales (D3 L2), with one of those defeats coming against Tottenham.
- Tottenham have lost their final league game in just one of the last ten Premier League campaigns, going down 5-1 to Newcastle United in 2015/16.
- Leicester City spent the third-longest time in the top four in the Premier League last season, yet finished 5th (325 days). The Foxes have spent longer in the top four than any other Premier League side this term (242 days), but are adjudged to have a 74.9% chance of finish outside the top four based on Opta’s predicted table.
Player to Watch
Harry Kane’s decision to wave towards the Tottenham Hotspur supporters alone, just after the defeat to Aston Villa, caused major speculation in the English media, with some experts viewing it as a hint for interested parties to make a move for the forward, who is believed to be unsettled in north London at the moment.
It means this could well be Kane’s last game for Tottenham, after spending 10 professional seasons with the club. He may not have won any competitive titles with the Lilywhites, but the Englishman has broken many records and has scored a whopping 220 goals in just 335 competitive appearances.
Kane, therefore, is certainly the one to watch out for, although it could be an emotional moment for Gareth Bale too, as the Welshman plays his last game for Spurs before once again returning to Santiago Bernabeu in the summer.
Leicester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Despite the disappointing loss to Chelsea in the Premier League, Leicester City are still the favourites heading into this encounter. They are far more technical, and could really thrive using Rodgers’ 3-5-2 to create numerical superiority in possession while the tired legs of Hojbjerg could easily be overrun in the middle of the park.
The Foxes will also have the backing of the home fans in this final match of the campaign and although they might face defensive scares on one or two occasions, the Hard Tackle predicts them to secure a 2-1 victory this weekend.