LEICESTER CITY 2 SPURS 1
Match Report by Paul Weston
It had to happen didn’t it? All the pundits had started to talk up City’s chances this year of getting into the top six. And what happens next? We blow the chance of beating a rather ordinary Manchester United side with a rather timid display and there goes our unbeaten start to the season. This rather dented the cautious optimism of City fans as the match against Spurs got closer to kick off. I think we feel more comfortable when no-one mentions our team in the press.
Spurs arrived for the kick-off with criticism in their ears from Pochettino after losing a two-goal lead against Olympiakos during mid week. They fielded a strong powerful side but with Loris absent due to the birth of his third child. City dropped Gray to the bench after his underwhelming display against Man Utd and brought in Barnes on the left wing.
Although City started brightly Spurs grew in strength as the first half progressed with Lamela featuring in particular and too easily carving through our midfield. Ricardo had his hands full on the right and Chilwell equally prevented from bombing forward too much on the left by Aurier. Maddison, Tielemans and Perez flitted in and out of the match and the supply to Vardy was limited. Maddison did manufacture two chances quite skilfully but the goalie made smart saves.
Part way through the first half, slightly against the run of play, City “scored”. From a corner Tielemans shot from outside the penalty area. The goalie fumbled, Perez gobbled up the rebound and N’didi bundled the ball in.
Cue delirium which after a long delay was crushed when VAR ruled no goal. Match of the Day later clearly showed Perez offside. However, those 30,000 in the crowd were left baffled. There has to be a better way of communication with the crowd than the current system. Why not broadcast the conversation with the ref and the VAR official?
It just had to be Harry Kane who then made matters worse. During a typical Spurs fast counter attack Son back heeled the ball to Kane. He was squeezed by Ricardo and Soyuncu and started to fall down as he burst through the middle (trying to win a penalty?). As he fell he managed to hook the ball over Schmeichel and into the goal. Spurs 0-1 and it was starting to look ominous.
Somewhat surprisingly Rogers made no changes at half time. Barnes was getting out muscled on the wing, Perez slightly anonymous and Spurs’ cynical fouls were clearly focussed on Maddison. Sissoko in particular was extremely fortunate to avoid a red card when scything down Maddison from behind.
And then came the turning point in the match. Another fast break from Spurs led to Son passing out to Aurier who had been left isolated by Chilwell. A good shot across Schmeichel and it looked like 0-2 and game just about over. But no – VAR deemed that Son was offside by a whisker. Again, those inside the ground were left guessing.
This seemed to galvanise both the crowd and the team in moving up a gear. Ricardo and Chilwell advanced forward more and as the support to Vardy improved he became much more dominant. He nearly scored when streaking through on the left but the keeper got his finger tips to make the save. The pressure on Spurs grew and Vardy was released again down the left channel. He cut the ball across the penalty area, Spurs defenders could not clear and Ricardo arrived to smash the ball into the net. 1-1 and this time VAR did not intervene!
Although Spurs were always a threat it felt that the force was now with City. Rodgers had brought on Praet for Perez and then Gray for Barnes. I had wanted to see Choudhury on earlier to stiffen up our midfield and, late in the day, Rodgers brought him on for Tielemans who had had an indifferent match. It only took a few moments for Choudhury to receive the ball from Barnes and slide a great first-time ball across to Maddison to move into space who then shot into the corner of the goal from long range. It was a great goal but perhaps Loris would have pushed it around the post?
It was the best way for Maddison to gain revenge for the persistent fouling. He was kicked yet again later on the ankle and had to hobble on as all the substitutes had been used. There were 7 minutes of extra time due to VAR and substitutes but Evans and Soyuncu (my man of the match) in particular continued to stand firm and City grabbed the points and a 2-1 win. Perhaps a draw would have been a fairer result but who cares!
It had been a very eventful and exciting match in which both teams had played their part. The three points push City back up the table and optimism for a successful season has been renewed. There is still work for Rodgers though. Tielemans does not seem to be having the same effect as last year. Barnes is still learning and Perez is not having much of an impact. Soyuncu is the big bonus of the year so far. City have £80 million in the bank and it looks like we have a ready-made Harry Maguire replacement. One foray late in the match from defence to attack brought the crowd to its feet.
City are third in the table as I write this report. Long may it continue!
Leicester – Schmeichel (c), Ricardo, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell, Ndidi, Tielemans, Maddison, Perez, Barnes, Vardy. Subs –Justin. Morgan, Gray, Albrighton, Ward, Choudhury, Praet.
Tottenham – Gazzaniga, Aurier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Winks, Sissoko, Ndombele, Lamela, Son, Kane (c). Subs – Wanyama, Dier, Ericksen, Moura, Skipp, Davies, Whiteman
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