As expected, many of the Tottenham Hotspur faithful went into meltdown after last week’s loss at Manchester United.
Whilst the utterly dismal performance attributes to much of this dismay, it’s not all doom and gloom, even for the rest of this season.
Yes, we may have been utterly humiliated by United, and I’m sure it would have reminded many of our massacres last season. Fortunately, a lot of circumstances are different.
Unlike our abysmal showings in 2013 and 2014, the team we field is exactly that – a team. Before, we looked like eleven mercenaries who had never even spoken to each other in their lives, thus resulting in several thrashings. Now, there is a unity about the squad, and they have a collected mentality to recover from this.
Don’t forget, our squad is amongst the league’s youngest- do you think Nabil Bentaleb and Eric Dier would have made their mistakes in the build-up for the third goa if they were more experienced? Of course not. We will recover from this; our squad is resilient, and we have a good set of fixtures to end the season.
We face Leicester City at a (seemingly) opportune time; the Foxes haven’t won a league game since January (their last victory at any point was against ourselves in the FA Cup), and have only scored 3 league goals this calendar year. Only Aston Villa and Sunderland have scored less goals than the division’s basement side, but a quite astonishing fact is Nigel Pearson’s men have only conceded two more goals than us this campaign.
From a Spurs perspective, that’s bad on our part, and it’s certainly reflected in both the stat and on the pitch- when Leicester came to White Hart Lane back in January, poor defending cost us a place in round 5 of the FA Cup. If we’re to succeed on Saturday, we can’t be so suicidal again.
Luckily, the same kind of defending still wasn’t enough for the Foxes to beat us in the reverse fixture back on Boxing Day. Goals from Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen were enough to take the points from the King Power Stadium, but with the Foxes seven points from safety and in dire need of wins, they won’t be resting on their laurels.
Momentum didn’t work in our favour at Old Trafford, and with so many disappointing individual performances, I expect Pochettino to make some changes.
At the back, Kyle Walker and Eric Dier had two of the worst defensive performances I’ve seen in all my years being a Spurs fan. Neither of them made a correct decision more than twice in a row, and it set United on their way to victory. As a result, I reckon both could be dropped. At right back, there have been calls for either DeAndre Yedlin or even Kyle Walker-Peters to make their Spurs debut; the pacey American has rarely been seen since his arrival, and our academy prospect was amongst our finest players as our Under 18s were dumped out of the FA Youth Cup. In the heart of defence, Federico Fazio could be given a recall.
Ryan Mason reportedly picked up a hip/thigh injury last week, and could be given a rest. Mousa Dembele looks the most likely candidate to replace him, frequently being used as Poch’s first substitute recently.
I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Andros Townsend after he was brought off after half an hour last week. He was the unfortunate victim as we switched to a 4-3-3, but I feel his run in the team could be over for now. Argentine winger Erik Lamela was one of our star players in both previous encounters with Leicester this season, and could return to the starting eleven. On the other flank, Nacer Chadli has been in very poor form, but lack of options mean he should continue to keep his place. Likewise, Christian Eriksen has been out of sorts for a couple of months now, and we need him to return to his best.
Harry Kane looked incredibly lethargic under the watchful eye of Roy Hodgson last week, and with international games approaching thick and fast, Poch could be inclined to give our star striker a rest. Roberto Soldado could continue to miss out with a knee injury, so Emmanuel Adebayor could receive his first league start since November- if this is the case, I urge all Spurs fans not to boo him for obvious reasons.
Our season isn’t over yet, but another slip up here could make the next few weeks depressing ones.
Predicted XI: Lloris; Walker, Fazio, Vertonghen, Rose; Bentaleb, Dembele; Lamela, Eriksen, Chadli; Kane