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Tottenham v Leicester: Spurs should feast on the Foxes going down with a whimper

18 Mar | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Tottenham v Leicester: Spurs should feast on the Foxes going down with a whimper

Defeat at Manchester United does not alter the fine job done by Mauricio Pochettino one bit.

Yes Tottenham were poor. Yes they were undone defensively and yes, they made Louis van Gaal’s team look a bit like the United of old under Sir Alex Ferguson.

This column would argue, however, that the Spurs team that left Old Trafford with their tails between their legs last Sunday had had an off day.

Pochettino insisted in his flash interview that he was not as concerned by the result as he was by the performance. He had a point. 

Several Spurs players performed way below the standards they had set under the Argentine who will expect a much-improved display at home to Leicester this weekend.

And when you need to get your season back on track what better team to come up against in front of your own fans that the toothless Foxes who have lost six of their last nine in all competitions.

More on Leicester in a second. First, though, a bit more on Spurs. 

The way of this season has been that, to a certain extent, several top flight managers have been walking a tightrope between success and failure.

At Spurs, however, they know what they have in Pochettino. They won’t panic over last week.

It says much for the former defender’s talents that with effectively one striker and so many underachievers at White Hart Lane he still has Spurs just six points off the top four.

And despite what the thinkers who always go for the obvious might have you believe, the race for Champions League football is far from over.

Yes, Chelsea have the title wrapped up barring a miracle. Arsenal should recover from their annual Champions League heartbreak to continue their charge back into the top four. And Liverpool are steadily gaining in momentum.

Southampton – with the best defence in the Premier League – have all but one of their remaining games against teams below them.

But with Manuel Pellegrini starting to look like a supply teacher holding the fort for someone else are City – following that defeat at Burnley last week – even certainties for the top four?

The defending Champions have tough games to come at Spurs and United. In all competitions they have kept just two clean sheets in their last 16 matches (it is nothing short of incredible that Pellegrini is talking about needing more despite the club already spending £172million). 

They have a magnificent attack and outstanding creative options. But at the back they are woefully out of form.

So Spurs will not yet be fearing that the fat lady is even clearing her throat just yet. Especially with Leicester at home on Saturday.

Nigel Pearson’s team put a complacent Tottenham out of the FA Cup back in January. In the league, however, the Foxes perform the way that their manager does in press conferences. Lots of smoke but no real fire.

Last Saturday’s goalless draw at home to Hull was Leicester’s first clean sheet in nine matches stretching back to January 10.

The Midlands club are now seven games without a win and have managed just a mere four goals in their last six league outings.

Basically Pearson is taking them down with a whimper. He is fond of those dramatic pauses ahead (or in the middle) of sentences that are built up to sound profound but turn out to be bog-standard cliches.

And the players would appear to have switched off.

Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa reflect his character. They are finally playing with a bit of attitude and edge. They puff out their chests and are once again starting to walk it like they talk it.  

Aston Villa under the mild-mannered Paul Lambert were the opposite. Timid. Bereft of confidence. Afraid to express themselves in case a mistake led to a goal and so fearful of losing that they often took to the field unsure of what they were actually there to do.

Pearson’s Leicester are also a mirror image of his character. Foot on the ball. Forever. Thinking it through. Forever. Ponderous, predictable.

Refusing to panic but actually fiddling while Rome burns.

Not good enough defensively but not enough goals in attack either. Under Pearson that is.

The biggest indictment of the Foxes boss is that his squad would probably have a fighting chance under someone else.

In the 2012/13 season, Southampton’s first back in the Premier League, they looked relegation fodder under Nigel Adkins. The then Executive Chairman, Nicola Cortese, sacked him with the club three points above the drop zone.

Amid the chorus of disapproval there were cries of “What does Cortese expect??”. People actually wanted the Saints to accept their fate and stick with a man who was taking them back down.

Under Pochettino, Adkins’ replacement, Southampton finished 14th. With wins over Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea along the way.  It can be done. 

Koeman has taken the sum of the parts to another level when many believed the Saints would plunge back into the outer darkness following the exodus of their top players. It can be done.

When Ian Holloway reached his vertical limit at Crystal Palace several other bosses turned down the chance to take over on the basis that the squad was supposedly not good enough.

Tony Pulis came in and turned Selhurst Park into one of the toughest places to go in the top flight. It can be done.

Palace eventually finished 11th – twelve points clear of the relegation zone and just five points off the top half of the table. 

Some managers are made for the top flight and some will always find – their egos inflated by success in the Championship – their limitations ruthlessly exposed in the top division.

Leicester’s performance – and that of Pearson whose conduct towards a member of the media last weekend was appalling – suggests they have in charge someone whose limitations have been exposed.

Tottenham should expose them further this weekend.