Tottenham Hotspur will look to bounce back from their EFL Cup exit at the hands of Chelsea when they travel to the King Power Stadium to take on Leicester City in the Premier League.
The Foxes come into this fixture on the back of rolling over Watford 4-1 in the FA Cup round three tie, courtesy of goals from Youri Tielemans, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Marc Albrighton. However, they will have a much bigger fish to fry in Wednesday’s league game as they prepare to lock horns with Antonio Conte’s Tottenham in a rescheduled Premier League matchday 17 fixture.
This will only be Leicester’s second game since the turn of the new year, with successive Premier League games against Everton and Burnley postponed due to COVID-19 cases. In fact, the Foxes’ last top-flight outing was played in late December, a remarkable 1-0 win over Liverpool, with Ademola Lookman scoring the game-winning goal on the hour mark.
After a mixed first half of the campaign, Rodgers’s men are currently sitting 10th in the top flight with 25 points from 18 outings. Their teething defensive issues mean no side outside the bottom six has conceded more goals than the Foxes (33).
Brendan Rodgers will be desperate for his side to rediscover their zip. While finishing in the top four would be an audacious call, given they are 12 points adrift, they are still in contention for Europa League spots. A couple of wins to end January would surely make the mood around the King Power Stadium much brighter.
On the other hand, Tottenham Hotspur have been making significant progress ever since Antonio Conte took over the reins last November. The Italian has yet to suffer a league defeat as Spurs manager. However, the Lilywhites were outclassed by Chelsea in their recent League Cup semi-final. The Blues breezed through the first leg in a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge before winning the second meeting convincingly 1-0 in North London.
Conte said Spurs still have a long way to go before they can reach the level they achieved under Mauricio Pochettino. Nonetheless, a top-four finish is certainly within sight for a club that has several world-class players and at least two games in hand over their rivals.
Tottenham ran out 4-2 winners at the King Power Stadium in the corresponding fixture on the final matchday last season to secure their Europa Conference League spot and scupper the Foxes’ push for Champions League qualification. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
Hands up for today’s training photos! 🙋♂️
— Leicester City (@LCFC) January 18, 2022
Leicester look set to be without several key players through injury troubles and the Africa Cup of Nations. Daniel Amartey, Wilfred Ndidi, Nampalys Mendy and Kelechi Iheanacho are all away at AFCON, while Wesley Fofana, Ricardo Pereira, Ryan Bertrand, Jamie Vardy and Jonny Evans will certainly miss out due to respective injuries.
Boubakary Soumare and Timothy Castagne will be re-assessed, although this game is likely to come too soon for the duo. However, Patson Daka, Caglar Soyuncu, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Luke Thomas are all available and will be in contention to start here.
Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers may prefer to opt for a 4-2-3-1 formation which has worked quite well in recent games. Schmeichel is a certainty between the sticks, having played every game in the league so far this season. Caglar Soyuncu will return to feature along with Jannik Vestergaard at the heart of the Leicester backline as they try to restrict Tottenham’s attackers from scoring on Wednesday.
Marc Albrighton will continue to play as a makeshift right-back with more natural picks Pereira and Castagne doubtful for this clash, while youngster Luke Thomas looks to impress on the other flank as the left-back. Both are expected to stay narrow and compact to reduce spaces for Spurs wingers.
Dewsbury-Hall will get the nod ahead of Hamza Choudhury to operate alongside Youri Tielemans in the holding midfield positions as they try to establish their superiority in the middle of the park. Harvey Barnes will focus on giving a good account of himself down the left flank, while Ademola Lookman hopes to continue his good form as the right-sided winger after producing two goals and the same number of assists in his last three games.
James Maddison would once again play in the number ten position as the attacking midfielder and is likely to carry most of his team’s creative workload in the opposition half. Patson Daka will lead the line for the East Midlands outfit in the injury absence of Jamie Vardy.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Albrighton, Soyuncu, Vestergaard, Thomas; Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall; Lookman, Maddison, Barnes; Daka
🎙 “We know we have to play against a really good team.”
Antonio previews tomorrow’s clash against Leicester City ⤵️
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 18, 2022
Similar to his counterpart in the Leicester dugout, Spurs boss Antonio Conte will have to make do with a fairly depleted squad. Eric Dier, Steven Bergwijn and Sergio Reguilon will require further assessments ahead of the trip to the King Power Stadium, with the trio battling through different stages of recovery, while Son Heung-Min remains on the sidelines.
In a huge boost for Tottenham, Cristian Romero is back in full training, although Wednesday’s game is likely to come too soon for the Argentine defender. Hugo Lloris looks likely to make his return and will operate in between the sticks for the Lilywhites, with Tottenham lining up in a customary 3-4-3 formation in front of him.
Conte could choose to field a three-man central defensive unit consisting of Japhet Tanganga, Davinson Sanchez, and Ben Davies as they look to keep things solid at the back. In the absence of Sergio Reguilon, Ryan Sessegnon will be looking to impress as a starter in the left wing-back position, whereas Emerson Royal will fill in on the other flank as the right wing-back.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp might start in the holding midfield positions as a duo and will be tasked to shield the visitor’s back-four and put brakes on the Foxes’ midfield runners in James Maddison and Youri Tielemans, who are both in a great run of form. With star forward Son Heung-min ruled out through injury, Giovani Lo Celso and Bryan Gil will compete to join the attacking trio.
Harry Kane will spearhead the attack with assistance from Lucas Moura, who has enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence under Conte. The skilful Brazilian is quick, creative, and a reliable goalscorer, capable of exposing a clumsy Leicester backline that has only kept 3 clean sheets in the league all season.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Lloris; Tanganga, Sanchez, Davies; Royal, Skipp, Hojbjerg, Sessegnon; Lo Celso, Kane, Moura
- Tottenham Hotspur are undefeated in eight league games under Antonio Conte’s management (W5 D3).
- Leicester City have won three of their last five matches across all competitions and their last 3 home league games.
- This fixture has a penchant for producing a slew of goals. Only Crystal Palace vs Liverpool and Arsenal vs Liverpool have yielded more goals than in the 14 meetings between Spurs and the Foxes since their return to the top division in 2014 (54).
- Leicester City have won two of their last four Premier League games against Tottenham Hotspur (L2), which is the same number of victories they have had in their previous 12 meetings with them (D3 L7).
- The Lilywhites have lost four of their last five away Premier League games played on a Wednesday (W1).
Player to Watch
With Son Heung-min absent, the onus will be on star striker Harry Kane to produce the goods in the final third with limited service, as has been the case in Spurs’ recent games. Four strikes so far in the Premier League season is a slow start, but there are sure signs that Harry Kane is regaining form.
The 28-year-old boasts an excellent track record against Leicester, having scored 17 times against them. On a ground which has been so kind to him in the past, it would be unsurprising if the England star rediscovers his scoring boots on Wednesday. Kane had a goal disallowed in Tottenham’s last game against Chelsea and will be chomping to get on the scoresheet here.
Leicester City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
While both teams are dealing with under-strength rosters, Conte’s side arguably has more quality players available, and they should have enough about them to grind out a win on Wednesday. Leicester City have been one of the league’s biggest underachievers this season, but the Midlands club still have enough quality in their ranks to give the visitors a good game. However, they will need to dig deep if they are to come out with anything from this one.
Tottenham now have their top-four destiny in their own hands. They would climb above Chelsea, Arsenal, and West Ham United into third place should they win all of their games in hand. With the Foxes perhaps rusty due to a lack of action in recent weeks and the visitors looking to make up for their disappointing FA Cup exit, The Hard Tackle predict a narrow 2-1 away victory for Conte’s men.