Premier League: Spurs v Leicester Preview

Claudio RanieriLast season’s Premier League title winners Leicester City clash with their closest challengers, Tottenham Hotspur, this weekend (3pm Saturday).

Although Spurs ultimately finished third in the table last term, their championship hopes were very much alive until the final few weeks of the campaign. Mauricio Pochettino and his players will be hoping to make up for the disappointment of 2015/16 by getting their hands on the trophy this time around. They have started reasonably well in that regard, remaining unbeaten in their first nine encounters to sit just a single point behind table-toppers Manchester City.

Tottenham were held to a goalless draw by Bournemouth last Saturday and a win would have put them in first place heading into this weekend’s action. They will therefore be looking to get back to winning ways in the top flight against Leicester, who won by a goal to nil at White Hart Lane on their remarkable run to the title last year.

The Foxes, for their part, have had an inconsistent start to the defence of their crown, winning three matches, drawing two and losing four in the first quarter of the season. Claudio Ranieri (pictured) seems to be prioritising the Champions League, in which Leicester have won all three of their group games without conceding a single goal. That partly explains their current position in the bottom half of the domestic standings. A 3-1 triumph at home to Crystal Palace last time out was a significant improvement on their showing in an insipid 3-0 loss to Chelsea the previous week, with the counter-attacking style of play which swept Leicester to success last season on display once more.

Tottenham will be unable to call upon the services of striker Harry Kane (ankle) and defender Toby Alderweireld (knee) for the visit of the champions. Vincent Janssen led the line in Tuesday’s 2-1 EFL Cup defeat by Liverpool, which means Son Heung-min could be Spurs’ furthest man forward this weekend. Eric Dier looks set to continue alongside Jan Vertonghen in the heart of the backline despite his deployment in midfield at Anfield. Moussa Sissoko will miss out through suspension, meanwhile, after the former Newcastle United man was retrospectively found guilty of violent conduct for an elbow on Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter last weekend.

Leicester will be forced to make do without Papy Mendy and Matty James (both ankle), while Andy King could also be absent after collecting a knock against Crystal Palace. Jamie Vardy is likely to return to the starting XI after he was rested for that encounter against Alan Pardew’s outfit, but Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani could both be rested with a view to keeping the Algerian pair fresh for Wednesday night’s trip to Denmark to face Copenhagen. Central defenders Wes Morgan and Robert Huth will be key if the Foxes are to leave the capital with a point or three, with Leicester needing to recapture the defensive solidity that characterised them in the run-in last season.

This preview reckons Tottenham can come out on top at White Hart Lane on Saturday afternoon. Although both teams will be in action in the Champions League in midweek, Leicester are more likely to rotate their squad and could leave a number of key players on the substitutes’ bench, which should be enough for Spurs to secure all three points.

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