Spurs 4 Leicester 3 – Tottenham edge shootout as defensive problems continue

Kane Hattrick

 

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.

Follow me on Twitter: @ABPSpurs

Were Spurs lucky? How can Pochettino shore up our defence? Let me know your opinions in the comments below.

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9 thoughts on “Spurs 4 Leicester 3 – Tottenham edge shootout as defensive problems continue

  1. JOHN ADAM

    Although we won, we should not have conceded so many goals. We have been conceding far too many goals recently. It proves that our defence is weak. Something must be done about it.

    Reply
    1. Kevin

      I hope that Poch gives Chiriches another chance to be honest. I know he’s erratic and ill-disciplined but at this point, with Vert and Dier not performing well, why not?

      Reply
      1. JOHN ADAM

        The trouble is that we are too often slow on our feet and not clearing the ball quickly enough until we lose it easily. In our match against Man U, we gave them the ball three times to score against us.. I would like to see again an aggressive Spurs as we were against Chelsea and Arsenal. We have been somewhat sluggish since….

    2. Jon @ AnythingButPenalties Post author

      I think ultimately we need a central defender and central midfielder with more experience and leadership (Schneiderlin and Musacchio would have done). Until then we could make a tactical switch to give more cover.

      Reply
  2. patjenningsfan

    Why oh why can’t we appoint a defence coach to give our back four lessons on how to stop the opposition scoring at will. We will never achieve anything if we continue to let in as many goals as we score. COYS.

    Reply
    1. Jon @ AnythingButPenalties Post author

      I think Pochettino has to accept he doesn’t have the personnel and change the system to give more cover. His Southampton gave up less shots than anyone except Man City last year, so it can work. Just think he needs to be pragmatic till he gets some new faces in the summer.

      Reply
  3. Kevin

    Credit to you for admitting that Fazio should be returned to the starting line-up and i completely agree with that statement. Dier is good but looks lost at times. Fazio is slow but you know he’s not going to lose an aerial battle nor would he get bullied off the ball. It also does not help that Vert is not helping organize the defence. Heck, at this point of the season, we might as well try Fazio and Chiriches!!

    Just when I thought it was the end of his spurs career, Paulinho pops out of nowhere and does well!! Good call from Poch but i thought the manager should have removed Bentaleb a long time ago. He’s lucky that he stayed on the pitch after that petulant slap to Ulloa and he looks burnt out during the past few games.

    Reply
  4. OC7

    Classic Spurs 4-3. Entertainment at the Lane, lovely jubbly. But, looking at our laughable goal difference compared to those around us, last season it was down to the humpings at Liverpool and City, this season it’s because our defence is garbage against everyone! Lloris has played out of his skin this season yet we are still only +5?! Mental.

    Walker has been terrible lately and hasn’t had a break since coming back in after the long injury that kept him out in the first third of the season. I would like to see Yedlin or Chiriches start in his place next match. (Call me crazy but if Walker has electrifying pace, is not too bad with the ball at his feet and is horrible at defending… why haven’t we tried to convert him to a winger?)

    Fazio in for Dier, and maybe even Capoue in for Bentaleb. You never want to make too many changes but thinking about it so many of our first choice XI – understandably – look very tired and jaded.

    Chadli has been missing sitters for weeks now. Mason and Bentaleb are not as solid as before. Townsend inconsistent Eriksen is our classiest player but he doesn’t look fit enough to continue this high intensity pressing game.

    This is what a large squad is for… time to use it. Excited to see how we finish the season. Something tells me there is a twist in the tail….

    Reply

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