Erik Lamela and Christian Fuchs tussle for the ball during Spurs vs Leicester City in the Premier League.

Spurs vs Leicester City: opposition strengths and weaknesses

Spurs vs Leicester City at White Hart Lane is our next Premier League fixture. We take a look at the Foxes strengths and weaknesses.

The champions come to White Hart Lane in a less than regal state. Four defeats in four away fixtures, three goals scored and thirteen conceded, the worst road form in the Premier League. So, where has it gone wrong for the Foxes this season? Ahead of Spurs vs Leicester City we take a look.

Where and how Leicester concede chances

Leicester have conceded chances, and goals, from two routes this season. Firstly, from teams that attack their narrow defensive structure from wide areas. Secondly, from set pieces, especially corners.

Creating opportunities from wide areas

Without the ball recovery machine that is N’Golo Kante, Leicester are setting up in a much narrower defensive structure this season. It sees them concede space to teams that can move the ball out wide quickly. Leicester’s full backs can then be exposed 1v1 or struggling to get out and cover.

Leicester City’s recent 4-1 away day pounding at Liverpool is a good example. The Reds played their full backs extremely high and wide, hugging the touchline. Leicester was narrow and so were late on getting out to them.

Liverpool FBs high and wide against narrow Leicester City.

Liverpool FBs high and wide against narrow Leicester.

It saw both Nathaniel Clyne and James Milner heavily involved. Milner set up the first goal for Roberto Firmino as right back Luis Hernandez couldn’t get out to him quickly enough.

Liverpool then proceeded to create and score through attacking the Leicester full backs and the wide areas.

Liverpool chances against Leicester.

Liverpool chances against Leicester.

Leicester City’s next away day saw them also thumped 4-1, this time by Manchester United. The Red Devils also played their full backs, Daley Blind and Antonio Valencia, high up and got the ball out to them at every opportunity.

Pogba gets the ball to the free FB Daley Blind, a tactic ahead of Spurs vs Leicester City.

Pogba gets the ball to the free FB Daley Blind.

Manchester United got crosses and shots in that forced corners. These set plays were responsible for three of their four goals in the game, Leicester’s second weakness.

Conceding from corners

Leicester City have been conceding a remarkable number of goals from set pieces compared to last season. The new rules on grabbing and shirt pulling have definitely affected them. Wes Morgan and Robert Huth were masters of grappling with their opponents last season. The hands off laws this term have made a significant impact, as they now often don’t have the foot speed to stay with their direct opponent.

The second factor impacting Leicester at set plays has been the space they are leaving around their goalkeeper. Presumably, this space is left so that the keeper can come and gather or punch, giving him a free run at the ball.

However, opponents are running in here to power home headers, such as Paul Pogba and Chris Smalling did for Man Utd.

Pogba powers in to head home a set piece a tactic for Spurs vs Leicester City to consider.

Pogba powers in to head home a set piece.

Or to pick up deflections and near post flick-ons, as Diego Costa did for Chelsea.

Costa is first to the free space to score from the flick-on.

Costa is first to the free space to score from the flick-on.

Leicester City have conceded five times from corners in away games so far this season. Leaving the space around the goalkeeper is proving to be a death trap for their defence.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Leicester City need to see us attacking these two weasknesses. Kyle Walker and Danny Rose have to play as high as possible. This is something they’ve not done as much recently since we’ve moved to a 4-1-4-1 shape. Higher full back positioning needs to be reinstalled. So too does the 4-2-3-1 of last season, which allows them to overlap much easier. When in possession the ball should be moved out to them early and often.

Set pieces will also be a key area to get goals. Mauricio Pochettino should include as much aerial power as possible. The sizeable Moussa Sissoko will be a big miss in this regard.

Level of pressing matters

What has been interesting this season is the number of teams giving Leicester some space to work in to draw them up the field. Rapid counter attacks were a theme of the Foxes run to the title last term and opponents are extremely wary of it this.

Jamie Vardy’s rapid pace torched many a defence in transition, as did the jinking dribbling skills of Riyad Mahrez. Opposition teams have been prepared to concede some space to Leicester to invite them forward and not get hit with a counter attack. Liverpool, the Premier League’s most high intensity pressing side, were prepared to give Leicester room, engaging them at the middle third.

Liverpool ball recoveries against Leicester City.

Liverpool ball recoveries against Leicester City.

Manchester United met Leicester at the middle third as well. They also shut down the crossing combination of Marc Albrighton and Christian Fuchs down the left that Leicester often tries to attack with.

Man Utd ball recoveries against Leicester CIty.

Man Utd ball recoveries against Leicester CIty.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Leicester City would see us do well to dial down the level of pressing that we usually use. Less space to attack beyond our high defensive line will draw Leicester forward, opening them up to being counter attacked.

Scoring early

In Leicester City’s last three away games they have conceded eleven goals to Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd. Chelsea scored after 7 minutes, Liverpool on 13 and Man Utd 22. All three teams were at least two up by half time.

Going behind before the interval forced Leicester to open up and play more expansive football in the second half. Their opponents could then counter attack or had more space to play in to themselves to add third or even fourth goals.

Tottenham need to focus on starting quickly and being clinical in front of goal to establish an early lead. Something we’ve not seen from the side recently.

Spurs vs Leicester City outlook

Leicester City have been a team that has given us plenty of problems since Claudio Ranieri took over. The issue for us is that they use our pressing strength against us through their use of counter attacks to two strikers. Most teams that counter attack against us do it through one striker. However, two forwards to cope with gives our high defensive line issues.

Leicester are in a terrible run away from home and its up to us to keep it that way. A fast start to knock them on the back foot is key, which means sorting our recent goal scoring problems.

Spurs vs Leicester City prediction: Spurs 2- 1 Leicester City.

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9 Responses to Spurs vs Leicester City: opposition strengths and weaknesses

  1. alexthfc 28th October 2016 at 11:49 am #

    Hope Toby is fit again. His diagonal passes and aerial presence would be really really good.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 28th October 2016 at 11:59 am #

      Yes he’s been a big miss these last few games. Can definitely see him causing trouble from corners.

  2. David 28th October 2016 at 7:04 pm #

    Thanks for the article Mark.
    My concern as yours is scoring early goals, which I think would let us control the game, (God forbid)rather than coming from behind… as we saw in the City game
    I’d also like to see Son on the left whatever formation we play, its his best position in my opinion, it gives us width and an out all when the game is squeezed.
    Lamela on the bench please, out of form.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 28th October 2016 at 7:12 pm #

      Would love to see us get some early goals, be a real confidence boost!

      Like to see Son on the left also, as I too think it’s his best position. Think he should only be used up top in certain situations where there is space to counter in to, but this game won’t be one of them.

  3. Matt 28th October 2016 at 7:34 pm #

    Toby and Moussa are a miss, which your analysis highlights. Hope we use that width, we sometimes seem to see a narrow defence as a challenge we cannot resist trying to play through. As you say, Son wide will help. Maybe we should use Janssens pace, I read today he’s one of our quickest players!?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 29th October 2016 at 1:04 am #

      Wow! I find that quite surprising, Janssen certainly looks more strength than speed!

  4. Matt 28th October 2016 at 7:59 pm #

    ….also, though I hate to bring down the tone of one of the more cerebral blogs, on the basis of no analysis whatsoever I have a real feeling that Janssen will get off the mark in the EPL tomorrow.

  5. David 28th October 2016 at 8:37 pm #

    Amen to that Matt.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 29th October 2016 at 1:05 am #

      Would be great for the team and Janssen’s confidence.