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