Ruthlessly attacking the weak points of both Foxes formations ran up the score to finish Leicester 1-6 Spurs at the King Power Stadium.
Dominant and brutal there was no let up from Tottenham. Clinical, precise and overpowering, Leicester simply couldn’t respond to what was a buccaneering performance. Attacking the weak spots of both Foxes formations, the match ended a lop-sided Leicester 1-6 Spurs at the King Power Stadium.
Attacking the back four
Leicester opened the match in their usual shape with a back four playing narrow to condense the centre of the pitch.
Spurs adopted three ploys in order to attack it. Firstly, to set up with three at the back and wing backs. The three centre backs had a numerical advantage against Leicester’s front two. However, Mauricio Pochettino made a subtle change. The manager used his two best passers, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, on the outside of the three. The pair can also be consider quicker across the ground and therefore also served to cover Jamie Vardy’s runs in-behind our high defensive line. Eric Dier was moved to the middle to deal with any long aerial balls over the top.
The second tactic was to have us play much quicker from back to front. Alderweireld and Vertonghen frequently looked for much longer passes than usual. Across the ground or through the air, they were looking to hit Son Heung-Min, Dele Alli and Harry Kane extremely early in the attack.
The third ploy was to attack and expose the positioning of the stand-in centre back pairing, in particular Yohan Benalouane. We looked in the Leicester vs Spurs match preview at his errant positioning and how opponents have scored against him since he came in to the team. Spurs were constantly looking to run players off and behind him.
Exposing Yohan Benalouane
Tottenham combined the three tactics in order to expose Yohan Benalouane.
The centre half back was under pressure from the get go. On five minutes, Harry Kane brought down a long ball from Jan Vertonghen imperiously. Yohan Benalouane was dragged out and Son Heung-Min darted in-behind him. Kane played Son in, but a last-ditch tackle from Ben Chilwell denied him.
Ten minutes later, Son was in for an even better chance. Toby Alderweireld met a Kasper Schmeichel kick and sent the ball downfield. As Dele Alli challenged Benalouane, Son moved off the back of him, anticipating the outcome.
Son was immediately in, but with too much time to think, blazed his shot over the bar. Just as against David de Gea on Sunday, Son had done the hard work to fashion the opportunity, but lacked the composure in his finish.
Ten minutes later and Son would show the poise to supply an end product. Once more it came from a long ball forward. Toby Alderweireld going deep for Son’s run in-behind Christian Fuchs. The unfortunate Yohan Benalouane playing Son onside gave him the advantage he needed.
Benalouane then compounded his mistake by not picking up or tracking Harry Kane. Son supplied the cutback and Kane had his first of the night as he eyed the Golden Boot trophy.
Benalouane had been worked over by our attack and Harry Kane gave him no respite. On the ball, our instructions were clear for our front players to harass and close the centre back quickly. Kane did so; robbing him of possession and subsequently curling a fierce drive just wide. Later, a long ball up to Kane from Mousa Dembele then saw the striker turn, trick and dump Benalouane on the floor. Kane raced away and skidded a low cross through the box, just missing Dele Alli.
A second was goal was coming and the undeterred Son Heung-Min this time took his chance. Once again it came from running off Yohan Benalouane as Son and Dele combined. Dele’s intelligent flick releasing Son’s run behind the centre back.
Son’s finish this time showed the composure that his previous one-on-one had lacked.
Leicester City change formation
Tottenham had detonated Leicester’s 4-4-2 setup in the first half, running riot and exposing Yohan Benalouane. At half time, Craig Shakespeare switched to a back three. Maybe he wanted to protect his centre back? Maybe he just wanted to match formations and restrict the space Alli, Son and Kane were getting between the lines?
What didn’t change was Leicester looking to run Jamie Vardy in to the space beyond our high defensive line. Vardy had tried to isolate himself against Toby Alderweireld in the first half, but got little change out of the Premier League’s best defender.
Switching to the other side of the pitch, Vardy suddenly found himself with a chance. Wilfred Ndidi supplied the pass. Moussa Sissoko gave the linesman an opportunity to consider Vardy onside when he was actually just offside.
Hugo Lloris came racing out to deny Vardy, but his clearance went straight to Ndidi. What followed was un-Tottenham-like calamitous panic defending. Hugo Lloris and Toby Alderweireld both overran the ball and then slipped over when trying to stop and change direction. Moussa Sissoko was slow to react to his error and then didn’t hustle in time with his challenge. Amazingly, a lane opened up for Ben Chilwell to simply waltz down and pass the ball in to the net. Alarmingly, Leicester was back in the game.
Spurs attack the back three
The reaction from Tottenham was first class, highlighting the spirit that runs through this team. The King Power stadium was bouncing and Spurs sucked the life out of it by attacking down the outsides of Leicester’s back three. Traditionally this is where three centre backs are vulnerable, often because the outside players of the trio don’t want to be drawn wide.
Spurs play the system, but also know how to attack the formation. Just four minutes had elapsed between Leicester scoring and Spurs re-establishing their two-goal cushion.
Toby Alderweireld got down the outside to receive a nicely weighted pass from Moussa Sissoko. Alderweireld stood the ball up to the back post for Victor Wanyama to nod back across. Wanyama’s header fell perfectly for Harry Kane, who had lost his marker, Yohan Benalouane, in the build up. Kane wheeled away in celebration and Benalouane was substituted.
The goal was a body blow for Leicester having just got back into the match. The Foxes were now teetering on the edge and Spurs were ready to knock them out. Two more goals followed as Tottenham attacked the other outside centre back of the three, Danny Simpson.
Mousa Sissoko was having a clumsy game, but did some excellent work to release Alderweireld on our third goal. The Fourth goal saw Sissoko tackle Demarai Gray inside our penalty area, turn and move forward up the line. Sissoko then neatly picked out Harry Kane who in turn found Son Heung-Min.
Son could run at the right centre back of the three, Danny Simpson, with acres of green space to twist and turn in to. Kane continued his run and Son used the striker as a decoy. Son cut inside and curled an exquisite shot in to the corner for number four.
Not content with the score at Leicester 1-4 Spurs, Tottenham went for the jugular. Harry Kane saw the chance to grab the Golden Boot race by the scruff of the neck and took it. Kane scored two goals from pretty much the same position in the inside left channel.
The first came from once more running at Danny Simpson on the outside of the centre back trio. Vincent Janssen and Filip Lesniak showing good hold up play and neat passing in the build up.
Kane then made it Leicester 1-6 Spurs as Ben Davies ran down the outside to pull the ball back for him to rifle his shot in at the near post.
Both goals highlighted Leicester’s defence overplaying Kane for the far post curler. Maybe this was something in their team analysis before the match? However, both Danny Simpson and Daniel Amartey tried to close the curler off and showed far too much of the near post for Kane to pass up a golden invitation.
Spurs fans at the ground chanted “we want seven” and we almost got it. Between goals five and six, Vincent Janssen had the ball in the net as Dele Alli got down the outside of the Leicester back three as well.
Janssen could’ve held his run slightly longer, but was clearly offside.
Time ran out with the final score Leicester 1-6 Spurs on a thoroughly successful night.
Leicester 1-6 Spurs overall
A real statement game. Tottenham ran riot by attacking both Leicester formations in the right way.
The back four was opened up through long passing and picking on its weak spot, Yohan Benalouane. Leicester’s change to a back three saw Spurs switch to attacking down the sides of the centre backs. Clinical, precise, brutal and the score could’ve been more.
Final score: Leicester 1-6 Spurs.
MOTM: Harry Kane.
A most enjoyable and interesting read as always Mark, although I’ve identified a massive flaw in your analysis: surely it should be ‘Leicester were back in the game’ not ‘was back in the game’.
Now that we’re likely to see the final breakup of this famous Leicester team, who would you prefer playing for us next year, a Mahrez or a Sigurdsson? And while we’re at it, how do you rate them both v Eriksen?
Whoop whoop! Thats the grammar police!
(Apostrophe deliberately omitted, words omitted from the second sentence because it scan’s better.)
This match was a joy to watch. You could practically hear Lukaku and Sanchez’s dreams of glory deflating.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Ssssssssssss… Beautiful wasn’t it!
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Hi Sam, I would say ‘Leicester” was speaking in the second person and thus takes was in the past tense.
I think Mahrez is a different type of player to Eriksen and Sigurdsson is inferior. I wouldn’t take either of them as they don’t fulfill what we need from these players at the prices they are going to command. Mahrez has everything offensively, but doesn’t work anywhere near hard enough without the ball and our pressing game doesn’t carry passengers as it will break it. At £30 million i’d rather invest that cash in Zaha if we’re after the tricky winger type.
Sigurdsson is another nice player, but he has to play in the centre. This would only make him viable if we play 3-4-2-1 in the pair off the striker. He doesn’t operate or work hard enough when on the left of an advanced midfield three of a 4-2-3-1 – in fact that is the reason why Swansea stopped playing that formation and have sought other systems such as their current 4-3-1-2 with Sigurdsson as a number ten behind the two strikers. He also said its one of the reasons he left Spurs as he hated AVB playing him on the left. Another thing with Sigurdsson is that the attack has to be run through him. He gets that at Swansea but won’t at Spurs. We run our offence through multiple players and he’d have to accept that if he came.
At the price being reported for Sigurdsson (£25 million) I think it is far too much for what we need and would rather go all in for an Isco. I was a big Henrkh Mkhitaryan fan and think Poch could really do something with him. If he is surplus to requirements at Man Utd then we might get a cheeky deal for him at a reduced price. More realistically, I really like Youri Tielemans at Anderlecht or someone like James Ward-Prowse from Southampton if Premier League experience is necessary so that they can hit the ground running.