CITY 2 SPURS 1
REPORT BY EDDIE BLOUNT
In the corresponding fixture last season, playing without a centre-back in sight, we were hammered 6-1, so this was the sweetest of victories and provided three valuable points that most City supporters will not have budgeted for. Best of all this was the performance of the season to date with City just beating a talented and committed Spurs team in a thrilling, not to say occasionally nerve-wracking match.
The first half was the epitome of all that makes the Premiership the best league in the world to watch with both sides able and willing to change defence into attack given the slightest opportunity. Thus the game swung from end to end with a plethora of possible chances at both ends.Vardy had already caused Lloris twice to sprint yards out of his penalty area to cut off through balls to the striker so in all probability Vardy must have realised that at some stage he might have to chip the keeper. If so he was spot on!
On 13 minutes Maguire intercepted a Spurs clearance and characteristically pushed on over half-way from inside his own half before sending an accurate pass to Albrighton standing out on the left touchline. Then the magic really began! Albrighton swivelled the ball on to his right foot and produced the most sumptuous of chips over and between the well-positioned centre-backs. Simultaneously the Premier League’s most predatory striker flashed past the covering defence whilst carefully checking the flight of the ball before positioning himself at full speed to allow the ball to drop over his left shoulder. What happened next took us all by surprise when Vardy without giving any clue as to his intentions incredibly chip-volleyed the ball over the inevitably on-rushing Lloris who was left totally stranded as the ball bounced into the corner of the empty net. Cue deserved pandemonium! You will be pushed to see a better goal anywhere anytime!
The reverse stimulated Spurs into further increasing their efforts and they should have equalised when Sissoko put through by Kane shot straight at Schmeichel with the clearance made by the excellent Iborra as the ball spun towards the goal. They had another good chance when Dele Alli failed to beat the City keeper from close in, the ball finally trickling wide.
It was clear that one goal was not going to be enough and just as we were hoping for the half-time whistle to give us some relief the magic returned. Simpson intercepted the ball in the City penalty area and began a series of close passes mostly made under pressure which got the ball up to the half-way line, Ndidi in possession. He slid the ball out to Mahrez, wide right in space for the first time in the match as Spurs had double-marked him from the start. Mahrez moved menacingly on an increasingly diagonal path towards the Spurs goal, accelerating as he approached the penalty area. At this point I knew that Spurs were in big trouble! They were! The Algerian winger simply drove across the penalty area until the angle was what he wanted and released a sublime left-foot curler which found the top right corner of Lloris’ goal. Amazingly we had seen not one but two supreme goals. Spurs went in at halftime moments later with their tails firmly between their legs!
The second half was a different story. Puel had obviously told the players that ‘What we have we hold.’ This translated into a tactic of sitting back and defending in depth plus not committing too many men to the occasional counter-attack. We still had chances, especially Okazaki and Vardy but we were prepared to concede the majority of possession in an effort to capitalise on our first-half performance. The defence generally did well though sub Llorente and Eriksen both botched clear goal-scoring opportunities. Spurs did manage to get a goal back after 78 minutes when Kane blasted – and I mean blasted – home from close range after a shrewd pass from another sub, Lamella. For the only time Maguire lost Kane, though some linesmen would have flagged him off-side it was that close.
I admit that nerves were somewhat shredded after that but after Llorente’s miss the feeling grew that this was to be our night and thus it was. We now move up to 9th in a tight league but the signs are there that we are becoming a threat for all but the very best, i.e. Man City. It will be very interesting to see how we do against them in the Cup match later this month when presumably both clubs field several squad players.
Finally the match will long be remembered by City youngster Choudhury who made his City debut when replacing the ever-industrious Okazaki some 10 minutes before the end. He did all that could be expected of him in the circumstances with signs of improvement beginning to appear after initial and understandable problems with adapting to the pace of the game. Puel took a gamble when the safer option was to bring on King but it came off. A lucky manager is some way to becoming a good manager!
City: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Mahrez (Gray 77), Iborra, Ndidi, Albrighton, Okazaki (Choudhury 83), Vardy (Slimani 88)
Spurs: LLoris, Sanchez, Dier, Vertonghen, Aurier, Sissoko (Son 57), Dembele (Llorente 69), Rose, Alli, Eriksen (Lamella77), Kane
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation
With apologies for the late publication of this report, our reporter was offline with a technical issue outside of his control