Leicester City vs Spurs is up next for us in the Premier League, so let’s look at the keys to taking on the Foxes.
Finishing last season with a strong run of form, Leicester have continued it this term under new manager Claudio Ranieri.
The new Foxes boss has kept some of the tactics from Nigel Pearson’s time in charge, but is also implementing his own. What has been constant is that the free-flowing play and the drive to get the ball forward as quickly as possible.
So, what can we expect and what should we be on the lookout for in Leicester City vs Spurs this time?
Navigating the narrow defence
Leicester City gave up a ton of shots in their own box last season and it was one of Nigel Pearson’s biggest headaches to solve. Claudio Ranieri has recognized this and has his back four play extremely narrow. This often sees them tuck their full backs alongside the centre backs, letting the wide players, Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton, defend the opposition on the flanks.
It has made Leicester more resolute in their two victories so far. However, it has also allowed chances in one of two ways.
Last weekend, West Ham showed one way around it as they got the ball out quickly wide in order to find the open man and create a crossing situation.
The ball ended up with Dimitri Payet and he lashed home from inside the box. The goal was created from the Leicester’s left back zone, which has been the weaker side with the more offensively minded Jeffrey Schlupp playing here.
Sunderland were shocking at the King Power Stadium on opening day, but they did give us a glimpse of the other method. That is to get a man on the ball between the lines of defence and midfield. He can then slide the ball through the tight back four for a runner to latch on to. Adam Johnson found Jermain Defoe as the four narrow players were opened up.
The Tottenham tactics for Leicester City vs Spurs should look to see us get the ball quickly in to wide areas to stretch out the Foxes back four. Dragging the full backs away from the centre backs should free up space for shots in the box, something Leicester don’t want to concede.
In spite of stuffing Sunderland, the Black Cats did get 7 of their 11 shots away from inside the penalty area. In edging West Ham, the Irons got 7 of their 10 shots off from inside the box. So, the closer-range shots will be there if we try for them.
Susceptible to speed in-behind
Navigating the narrowness of the back four is one thing, but Leicester have also been fallible to the ball played early over the top. Robert Huth and Wes Morgan do not have great speed and both Sunderland and West Ham gained chances and scored goals from getting runners in-behind.
On opening day, Stephen Fetcher, who is not the quickest either, got beyond Wes Morgan to receive a long ball played forward early in Sunderland’s attack. This caught Morgan off guard and he had to grab Fletcher to bring him back, somehow avoiding a penalty and a red card.
Sunderland’s second goal in the game also arrived from a long ball played quickly forward over the top. Jeremain Lens was put in before Leicester could get their defence set and Steven Fletcher headed his lobbed-up cross home.
Last weekend at West Ham, there was the infamous Kasper Schmeichel incident. A quick, early ball was played over the top for Diafra Sakho to outpace both Huth and Morgan on to. Schmeichel sneakily clotheslined Sakho, somehow again avoiding a penalty.
The Tottenham tactics for Leicester City vs Spurs should look to see us continue with the ploy of dropping Harry Kane off the front and looking to hit the runners beyond him. We saw this heavily in Spurs 2-2 Stoke last weekend and there is a follow-up piece on Harry Kane and the vertical passing game here.
Leicester have been susceptible to this early passing over the top and speedier players like Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela should be the choice here. Both can stretch a narrow defence out and are a threat to run in-behind. Both also have the beating of Huth and Morgan in a foot race.
Clinton N’Jie would be ideal in this situation, but this match comes far too early for him in his Spurs career. He may, however, be a late roll of the dice substitution should we be chasing the game against a tiring Leicester defence.
Dealing with direct Leicester
Claudio Ranieri is instilling a much more direct approach to Leicester’s attacking play. He has gone 4-4-2 which is aggressive enough in today’s age of lone-striker systems, but he is having his side move the ball much quicker forward.
In the wide positions he has two skilled, but very different players. Riyad Mahrez is an excellent dribbler with a fearsome left-foot shot. Marc Albrighton has bundles of energy and delivers pinpoint crosses. Both players operate inverted and Ranieri gets the ball to them as quickly and often as possible.
Up top, he also has two livewires. Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy have speed, bundles of energy and great movement to run the channels and dart in-behind. They look to get the ball up to these two rapidly, as you can see from Vardy’s passes received chart.
The ball is sent, often over distance for Vardy to run on to. Neither he nor Okazaki have great height, so the ball is put beyond the opposition defence or down the channels for them to chase.
Leicester’s first goal against West Ham was a microcosm of how Ranieri wants the two to play. The ball was sent quickly forward for Vardy to chase down the touchline. He got there first and then chipped it in to the middle for a streaking Okazaki to run on to and finish at the second attempt.
Dealing with the runs, movement and energy of both Vardy and Okazaki will be key in Leicester City vs Spurs on Saturday. Highly mobile defenders will be needed and while Vertonghen and Alderweireld should be able to cope at centre back, Eric Dier may get pulled all over the place trying to screen them.
Set piece special
Set pieces featured heavily in goals between the teams last season and they should create chances for both sides once again.
Leicester have given up wide-open opportunity headers to both West Ham and Sunderland in their first two Premier League fixtures. Younes Kaboul missed a guilt-edged opportunity in their opening game with the goal at his mercy. Diafra Sakho did the same in spurning a glaring chance at the back post last weekend.
Leicester have also been scoring goals from set pieces too with goals from free kick situations and a penalty, so they are a two-way threat.
We’ve been looking dangerou as well. Last weekend we netted from a set piece against Stoke. Eric Dier opened the scoring from the now well-known Pochettino vacant near post corner routine.
The Foxes were undone by the same routine and the same player (Dier) on Harry Kane’s scrambled opener in Spurs 4-3 Leicester at the Lane last season. So, what chance we see it again?
Expect plenty of set piece mayhem in Leicester City vs Spurs this time with action in both boxes.
Leicester City vs Spurs outlook
This game has goals written all over it. Both sides are trying to play open, attractive football and move the ball quickly forward in different ways. Leicester through hitting their front two and wide players early; Spurs by getting the ball in to Kane and pinging the runners off him. Just whom does it better and can deal with the other team’s way of doing it will see the winner in this one.
Leicester City vs Spurs prediction 2-2.
Leicester City vs Spurs betting
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