You have to admire the resilience of Tottenham Hotspur – no matter what players are signed and what team is fielded, the “Spursy” DNA remains intact.
After an untroubled 75 minutes vs Stoke City, it seemed as if we were going to cruise to a solid 2-0 win over a much improved mid-table side, securing our first three points of the season.
However, it seems things were going a little too well.
New summer signing Toby Alderweireld, who had been hailed for his lack of defensive errors, brought down Joselu in the box, with Marko Arnautovic (who quite possibly had one of the worst games a professional footballer has ever endured) slotting home the resulting spot kick.
Nerves kicked in, and tension increased around White Hart Lane – everyone knew what was coming.
Just a few minutes later, Mame Biram Diouf headed home the equaliser (cue the boo boys and whistlers).
It’s two points dropped that could bite us in the arse come May, and once again, Spurs managed to fail when it was easier to succeed.
Hopefully the first 60 minutes of the Stoke game will be extended to the full 90 this weekend, as we travel to the King Power Stadium. Leicester City are kept off the top of the league by Manchester City, despite being many people’s favourites to get relegated.
The Foxes have brought in some experienced players but without damaging the team ethic that helped them survive last season. New boss Claudio Ranieri is succeeding where many believed he would fail, and after completing the signing of Napoli midfielder Gokhan Inler, we will have to be at our best if we’re to leave Leicester with the points.
The Swiss international is expected to go straight into the starting line up, whilst Christian Fuchs is expected to start following an illness. For Tottenham, Andros Townsend remains our only injury concern. After completing his move to North London last week, Clinton N’Jie could be given his debut, with Pochettino praising him as “fast” and “technical” – in a team that is desperately lacking that sort of threat, you wouldn’t bet against N’Jie starting on Saturday.
Federico Fazio won’t take part as his move to West Bromwich Albion nears completion, hopefully signalling the quickening of our attempts to bring in striker Saido Berahino.
Whilst we completed the double over Leicester last season, they certainly gave us a run for our money. Our Boxing Day triumph at the King Power Stadium was one full of moments that induced chest pains amongst the Spurs faithful, and our 4-3 win at White Hart Lane was closely contested too. City did however knock us out of the FA Cup, bagging two late goals at the Lane after yet another tough game.
Our record vs Leicester is pretty even beating them 6 times out of a possible 11 since 2000, but we haven’t beaten them in consecutive fixtures since that year itself. Failure to win this weekend will make this our worst start to the season since the 2012/13 campaign – losing will equal our start in the dreaded 2008/09 season.
I expect there to be up to three changes to the side that started against Stoke. At left back, hopefully Danny Rose replaces Ben Davies – despite the Welshman grabbing an assist, that was the only notable time he ventured beyond the halfway line, and Rose’s partnership with Nacer Chadli was sorely missed.
Whilst Ryan Mason brought our midfield the energy and vision it needed, his execution was often poor – expect either him or Eric Dier to be dropped for Nabil Bentaleb.
At right wing, Mousa Dembele could keep his position after a fairly even performance vs the Potters, but judging by Mauricio Pochettino’s comments, don’t be surprised if Clinton N’Jie gets the nod.
After a tight calf cut short his game last week, we desperately need Harry Kane to play the full 90 this time around – the balance of the game was lost following his departure, and a sense of panic settled in pretty quickly.
Pochettino has been telling the press that it takes 10 games to decide how good a start to the season is – starting the first 3 without a win at Tottenham Hotspur, however, is unacceptable.
Predicted XI: Lloris; Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Bentaleb; Dembele, Eriksen, Chadli; Kane