Leicester City vs Spurs: scouting report, tactical analysis, preview

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.


West Ham find the wide space.

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.


Sunderland slide through narrow Leicester.

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.


Sunderland go over the top to get Lens in.

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.


Jamie Vardy passes received, West Ham vs Leicester.

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.


Vacant corner of the 6-yard box for Dier to run in to.

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?


Vacant corner of the 6-yard box for Dier to run in to.

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

There are a few bets around that could provide quite a bit of reward for those seeking some value.

Leicester vs Spurs 2-2 at 13/1 with BetVictor.
Goal in first 15 mins at 23/10 with 888sport.
Nacer Chadli anytime goal at 3/1 with Betfair.
Over 3.5 goals at 9/4 with BetVictor.


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21 Responses to Leicester City vs Spurs: scouting report, tactical analysis, preview

  1. James 21st August 2015 at 8:50 pm #

    Great article, as a leics fan it comes across unbiased, well written and full of facts. If only we had such an in depth fan website.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 21st August 2015 at 10:49 pm #

      Cheers James, good luck for the rest of the season as Leicester have been a breath of fresh air, but not for tomorrow ;)

  2. Bob Jones 21st August 2015 at 9:40 pm #

    Would love to see schlupp play wing back with albrighton on other side. 3 centre backs behind to hold the line properly and mahrez floating. Beneloaune or wasalewski for de laet. Morgan is no way slow, disagree with that analysis easily as quick or quicker than Kane. In fact we have pace and fitness in every position except huth.

  3. IJM 22nd August 2015 at 12:40 am #

    Great breakdown. Another Leicester supporter congratulating you on a very well written piece. Good luck in the game today and for the rest of the season.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 22nd August 2015 at 5:37 pm #

      Cheers IJM. An draw seemed a fair result on the balance of play.

  4. david 22nd August 2015 at 4:18 am #

    Great analysis of the leicester , I think it will be an exciting game, the foxes have bundles of energy particularly in vardy, okazaki and albrighton. I think they may well get anothere victory but as you stated they have also given away quite a few chances without yet being punished too severley. Anyway, you have done a fantastic job in putting this together….well done! wonderful read.

  5. Mike 22nd August 2015 at 11:18 am #

    I wish Spurs would buy Mahrez. He has looked like Messi in the first 2 matches of the season and he is only 24. I bet a big club will buy him within a year. It will be interesting to see if he can keep his level up against a better team like Spurs today.

    • anotherwisemonkey 22nd August 2015 at 12:54 pm #

      I’ve really liked Mahrez since our first game against Leicester last season. With the Algerian connection he already knows Bentaleb well. Perhaps one for the future.

      • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 22nd August 2015 at 5:32 pm #

        There were a number of conversations on here about Mahrez last season in that we should try and bring him in over the summer. I wonder if the club ever made an approach or at least enquired about him before he signed a new deal?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 22nd August 2015 at 5:37 pm #

      Mahrez would be a very decent signing and would solve a lot of the problems we have curenntly on the right. Was surprised we didn’t make a move for him over the summer.

  6. RS 22nd August 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    Great write up as usual! Watching the first half, we look so disjointed – more than can be explained by Eriksen’s absence alone. Kyle Walker in particular looks poor. I thought he should have been subbed off last week and looks more listless today. Woeful defending and offering very little going forward. Even his pace seems to have diminished. He seems to lack concentration – had another ball in the first few minutes go off his foot to touch, similar to last week. I hope to see Trippier soon. And why no Rose?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 22nd August 2015 at 5:35 pm #

      Trippier has to be close to getting his chance. Rose has missed a chunk of time at an important stage of building up fitness for the season. Good to see him on the bench today as it means he is coming back, but may have to wait until next weekend or even after the international break until he is fit enough to start and play a full 90 minutes.

      • RS 22nd August 2015 at 7:04 pm #

        Rose has been on the bench all three games so far — I truly hope this was a fitness issue because he was sorely missed. While I certainly think that we need to shore up the defensive midfield, our back four have not been up to snuff. Alderweireld had the penalty last week, Vertonghen had another poor game today and could have been called for a penalty. Davies was routinely beaten on the left flank and Walker routinely beaten on the right. Davies got outjumped right after our goal and was out of position, Vertonghen failed to close Mahrez down at all and voila, we have a draw.

        At least in the preseason games, Trippier seemed to have more pace going forward and more savvy in defense than Walker. Rose clearly needs to be the first choice at LB. I just don’t know what to make of Vertonghen and what to do about him.

        Offensively, with Eriksen out, Kane was really the only thing going and it’s difficult for him to be both the goal-creator and goal-scorer. Sigh — very depressing start to the season, five points that we’ve dropped.

  7. Dan 23rd August 2015 at 6:17 pm #

    Found it interesting that the players seemed to switch off completely for the Leicester goal. It was an issue last season and thought poch had been able to eradicate the problem, especially with the new signings and cutting out the deadwood. Could it be down to fatigue? I know this is only the third game but I wonder whether players like verthongen get tired mentally more than physically because the system is so complex? love your articles very much

    • anotherwisemonkey 23rd August 2015 at 11:56 pm #

      Interesting. Vertonghen had an error-strewn match and was lucky not to concede a penalty. Sherwood seemed to blame him for some of our capitulations. Could he have been on to something or was this just a bad day at the office?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 24th August 2015 at 4:58 pm #

      Hi Dan, in the heat i think both teams tired, both mentally and physically. I’m not sure it is to do with the system being complex as it was a domino effect of errors. Chadli didn’t help Davies who was left 2v1. Davies lost the header to Vardy, leaving Mahrez 1v1 against Vertonghen who has much slower feet and change of direction. For me it was just a case of the jubilation of scoring and celebrating Alli’s first goal and then not getting back in to the game situation from the kick off. It was a problem last season, but Pochettino seemed to stamp it out. Whatever he did then to work on the mental side needs to be revistied.

  8. anotherwisemonkey 23rd August 2015 at 11:54 pm #

    Hey, Mark, not sure if this will show up on the blog but I’d be interested to know your opinion on this blog post at THBN on the mental side of the game. Do you think there’s anything in this with regard to our players shooting from distance, and Mason failing to score in one on ones?


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 24th August 2015 at 5:02 pm #

      Good read, i thought most top clubs worked on the mental side of things with a sports psyhcologist rather than it being optional – as the writer states. In-game situational management and conditioning should be a part of every team’s training too so the players know how to respond in certain situations. We don’t have access to how the team trains so i wonder how much or if Pochettino actually works on this?

  9. Dan 24th August 2015 at 7:21 am #

    Personally, I think he makes errors a bit too often and there is something that makes him do it. Both sherwood and poch play with a high line which I think is one reason as jan has never appeared truly comfortable with high line. And under poch jan has been told to do front foot defending, something that was highlighted really well on one of the articles here. That again is something that makes him uncomfortable and he has to mentally focus very hard to make sure he gets it right. All of which I think leads to jan being mentally knackered and switching off.

    • anotherwisemonkey 24th August 2015 at 12:16 pm #

      Good points. While Davies has been playing better than expected, he leaves a lot to be desired in terms of positioning and putting real pressure on the attackers on the ball when on the back foot. I wonder how much this affects Vertonghen? Although Davies has done well, for me Rose is the better full-back and I’d feel more secure with him in the side.

  10. Dan 24th August 2015 at 2:28 pm #

    I agree about Davies and in a way I would feel more secure with rose in the side but I don’t think he is light years ahead in terms of defensive attributes. But with rose being far better going forward he would pin back the winger leaving vertonghen with perhaps a little less to do out wide? mainly I’m just not convinced with out whole defensive system at the moment! But then we support Spurs and I think Gerry Francis was the last manager who I thought did well defensively?