Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspurs met Claudio Raneiri’s Leicester City last time for a Premier League fixture on January 13th at the White Hart Lane. It was a crucial game for both sides as the two teams were vying for the top spot in the table. After a thrilling contest, which saw both sides making a number of chances, Leicester’s Robert Huth scored from an emphatic header in the 83rd minute and gave Foxes a memorable win. After the defeat, Tottenham found it hard to catch up with Leicester in the league table.
It was in a must-win game against Chelsea in April that Tottenham finally saw their dreams of lifting the Premier League trophy shattering when Eden Hazard scored a late equaliser. Leicester City won the trophy and ruined Spurs’ best chance in history of becoming the Champions. When Spurs host the Foxes this Saturday in a Premiere League fixture, it is likely they will be having memories of the previous season still afresh in their mind.
In an interview before the game, Tottenham midfielder Erid Dier said, “We’ve got a massive game against Leicester… I feel like we were in a title race with them last season and they got the better of us in the game at home and that changed where the league went. It’s an important game for us.”
Kane vs Vardy
Adding flavour to the growing rivalry is the competition that sprung up between the two main strikers from both the teams last season. The two England players, Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane, in the final stages of the competition competed against Sergio Aguero and among themselves to win the Premiere League Golden Boot Award for scoring most number of goals.
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In the last few games, Kane went past Vardy and won the trophy after scoring 25 goals in the season, one more than his England rival. With Kane likely to miss the game on Saturday due to a knee injury, Vardy will look to end his goal draught at White Hart Lane.
Champions League campaign
Both Leicester and Spurs created history this year by becoming two new entrants from England to compete in UEFA Champions League (UCL). Now, the two teams who are not really traditional football rivals, have a strong reason to compete with each other.
It has been 4 years since a club from England has lifted the prestigious trophy – Chelsea last won it in 2011-12 season. Both the teams will look to be the club from England to win it, or atleast make a mark in the tournament in their first season against European football giants.
So far, Leciester has enjoyed an unbeaten run in the European competition in the group stages and sit nicely at top of the table. The Spurs, on the other hand, have been inconsistent and will need to pick themselves up to qualify for the Round of 16. If the Foxes reache further than Tottenham in UCL this season, it would be highly ’embarrassing’ for Pochettino’s side.
The season so far
The 2016-2017 season has been pretty dramatic for both the teams so far. Tottenham, who defeated Manchester City 2-0 and made an emphatic statement in the beginning of the month, have suddenly found itself failing to register a win since then. After two draws, the Spurs have fallen to 5th spot in the table. If that was not all, Pochettino’s side suffered a defeat against Liverpool in the EFL Cup fourth round and were knocked out of the competition.
On the other hand, Leicester City have won only three games out of 6 Premiere League fixtures this season and have failed to register a win in an away game. The recent weeks have given a ray of hope to the defending champions after the Foxes defeated Crystal Palace by 3-0.
All is not lost for Spurs as they are only behind on goal difference from reaching to the top 4 in the table. A victory against Leicester will push them in the right direction. Meanwhile, Raneiri, who is looking to get his Premiere League campaign running will look to seize an away win against a side he would like to believe he has a psychological advantage over. The tactical manager will look to exploit the mental rivalry for his benefit and win an all important away game.