This was a crazy seven goal shoot-out that Tottenham edged but only just. Great entertainment but not necessarily a repeatable way to win games. Going forward there were some promising moments but defensively the same weaknesses resurfaced.
Apart from the win, the big positive was Harry Kane registering his first Premier League hat-trick even if they were probably three of the ugliest goals he’ll score all season. A tap in, a big deflection and a penalty – just goes to show the young forward gets goals of all types. That puts him top of the Premier League scoring chart with a chance of becoming the first Englishman to top it since Kevin Phillips fifteen years ago.
The game started disastrously. With less than five minutes elapsed, Hugo Lloris, captain and arguably Spurs most important player (Kane asside), was stretchered off after colliding with Kyle Walker. Irritatingly Leicester had been offside and the linesman was late to raise his flag; an avoidable injury.
In the twenty four hours since the worst fears have been allayed, but the French goalkeeper will still miss international duty with France and possibly even the league game against Burnley.
Kane’s first goal may have been a tap in from a corner but part of the striker’s art is being in the right place at the right time.
The second was a rare glimpse in this game of the positive side to Kyle Walker. He used his pace to overlap on the right and cut back an inviting low ball into the Leicester penalty area. Two of the things Spurs have struggled with this year, width and good service in the 18 yard box. Kane rifled home a shot that took a massive deflection of Robert Huth.
Tottenham were turning on the style and it could so easily have been three. A lovely run across the front of the penalty area by Eriksen opened up the chance for a shot but the ball cannoned back of the inside of the post. Chadli blazed over from the rebound with the goal at his mercy. The first of two dreadful misses for the Belgian.
Then the sucker punch. As usual it came from a ball behind our defence. Vardy hitting home the resulting cross for his first Premier League goal.
Worse was to come after the break. Schlupp beat Walker for pace and Leicester almost equalised. It was a brief reprieve as Morgan headed home the corner, easily evading some terrible marking from Bentaleb.
Kyle Walker was poor defensively all game – playing Leicester onside then losing his man for the first, at fault in the run up to the second and badly positioned for the third. In previous games I have made excuses for him as he has been left isolated by his teammates. This really wasn’t his match.
The defence is a big problem and I have to admit, I would consider bringing Fazio back to replace Dier. I have championed the young Englishman’s inclusion and he’s definitely the long term option but at present we need a steadying influence, a bit of experience and an aerial presence.
However, for me the main issue is the cover in midfield and pressure on the ball. Pochettino demands his fullbacks push up to give width, when they do that the onus is on others to stay back and fill in. Additionally, the Argentine coach likes his centre backs to play a high line, so the rest of the team has to put pressure on the ball, or the opposition can pick them off with passes in behind.
Mason, Townsend, Eriksen, Chadli aren’t disciplined enough at times. We could do with a more experienced leader in the middle. That will have to wait for the summer but for the moment moving to a three man central midfield might be an option.
Back to the game. Rose won a dubious penalty, neatly dispatched by a composed Kane. Chances came and went for both sides, Kane could have had four, Chadli blazed over again from close range.
We clearly needed more midfield presence. Pochettino confused us all by bringing on Paulinho. Surprisingly it worked, the Brazilian brought more athleticism to Spurs game and made a wonderful run and through ball for the fourth. Again there was a large slice of luck as Eriksen bundled the ball into Schmeichel, a combination of the Leicester goalkeeper and Schlupp diverting it into the net.
Tottenham don’t do comfortable two goal margins of victory – just looks at our goal difference. There was still time for a scare as another hopeful long ball was taken on by Nugent and powered into the net. Vertonghen’s headed challenge was pathetic. Maybe Lloris would have saved it?
Luckily it was the ninetieth minute and Spurs didn’t have to hold on long for a welcome if slightly fortuitous victory.
Were Spurs lucky? How can Pochettino shore up our defence? Let me know your opinions in the comments below.