Leicester City topped Tottenham Hotspur by a score of 2-1 in a lively match at the King Power on Saturday morning. A first-half strike by Harry Kane was cancelled by second-half efforts from Ricardo and James Maddison, giving the Foxes all three point. VAR was again a huge talking point, ruling out goals for both sides.
Manager Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the line that would have misfired had they actually “fired” against Manchester United last week. Kasper Schmeichel retained his place in goal behind an unchanged back four of Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, Çağlar Söyüncü, and Ben Chilwell. Wilfred Ndidi was the screening midfielder tucked in behind a midfield of Harvey Barnes, James Maddison, Youri Tielemans, and Ayoze Perez, with Jamie Vardy up front.
The match got off to a flying start, albeit one without any actual goals. Barnes was clearly in the mood to do some running and he played a nice one-two with Maddison in the second minute but just overcooked the return ball. Spurs hit right back, going close through Son Heung-min, who failed to work Schmeichel from a good position.
This set the tone for the entire half. Both sides looked crisp in attack and a little nervy at the back. The Foxes in particular were looking quite dangerous and they had the ball in the net on only 16 minutes. Goalkeeper Paolo Gazzaniga failed to hold a Tielemans shot and both Ayoze and Ndidi pounced, or maybe “bundled” as it took four or five touches to get the ball over the line from 4 yards out. It didn’t matter, as VAR made the very easy (and accurate) call that half of the Leicester squad were offside and the goal was rightly chalked off.
Spurs broke through before the half hour mark in a fashion that defies description, but as “description” is literally my job here, Im game to try. Son made a run across the box and backheeled it into the path of Harry Kane. The England striker received a nudge from behind from Söyüncü and lost his balance. The ball was running away from him as he fell, so he threw his leg out at the ball and struck it as the rest of his body was hitting the grass. He managed to get enough on the kick to drive it into the ground and cause it to bounce up over the onrushing Schmeichel and into the back of the net.
I think I described it well and still fell short of conveying just how ridiculous this goal is.
Just before the break, Tielemans slipped Ayoze in on goal with a lovely ball, but Gazzaniga was equal to it and that was about it for the half. Schmeichel had words with Moussa Sissoko after the whistle, with the Danish stopper taking exception to some of Sissoko’s more damaging challenges.
Both sides emerged unchanged from the tunnel to start the second half. It was Leicester who were clearly on the front foot, bearing down on the Tottenham goal at pace every time they won the ball. Harvey Barnes, in particular, was a menace down the left, dribbling past his man for fun.
After narrowly missing the end of a Chilwell cross, Jamie Vardy ran on to a through ball from Tielemans that left him one-on-one with Toby Alderweireld, which is effectively one-on-one with the keeper. His shot was slightly deflected, giving him the keeper and opportunity to make a fine save and for Danny Rose to put the deflection behind.
The Foxes were continuing to display two worrying traits: a complete ineffectiveness when taking corners, and a vulnerability to attacks on the break. After a couple of near misses due to some uncharacteristic wastefulness from Son, Spurs had the ball in the back of the net through a Serge Aurier strike. Aurier was completely unmarked because his defender, Chilwell, had spent the entire attack lobbying for offside against Son in the buildup. VAR came to the rescue as the Korea international was adjudged to have been millimeters offside, but it was awfully, awfully tight.
Enjoy the schadenfreude while you can because they’re sure to delete this tweet.
This prompted Rodgers to make his first move of the match, withdrawing Ayoze in favor of Dennis Praet and switching to a 4-4-1-1 with Madders in just behind Vardy. A snarkier man than I would pretend to be puzzled by the move as the gaffer had stated earlier this week that Maddison at his best when deployed in wide positions. Fortunately, I’m bigger than that, so let’s move on.
The football gods are predictable to a fault and will take any opportunity to insert a little cheap irony into a match. Thus it was today as Leicester were almost immediately back on level terms after having been so close to going two goals down. Vardy and Barnes traded passes inside the Spurs’ box. The striker’s return ball was deflected away from the former West Bromwich Albion loanee but fell kindly to Ricardo, whose deflected shot left Gazzaniga no chance.
The leveler woke Spurs up and the Leicester back line fell under a sustained spell of pressure. Rodgers sought to change things up by sending on Demarai Gray and Hamza Choudhury on for Barnes and Tielemans. The Choudhury move, which one presumes was meant to close up shop, paid almost immediate dividends. A speculative long ball to Vardy was knocked back to Hamza. He squared it to Madders on the edge of the area and the former Norwich City man took one touch to get some space and drove the ball into the near corner.
The assistant referee put six minutes of added time on the board, largely due to treatment Maddison received after picking up an ankle knock shortly after scoring. With all three substitutions used, Madders stayed on the pitch but that’s about all he was capable of. The match ended in the most Söyüncü moment of the match. He disposessed Kane on the edge of the Leicester area and then took the ball himself three quarters the length of the pitch. Sure, he lost the ball and collapsed in a heap at the end of it, but it was glorious and a fitting end to fantastic match.
Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? Even though we trailed for most of the match, we never felt like we were out of it other than perhaps when Aurier’s ball hit the back of the net. We played well in the first half and had nothing to show for it, and then turned things around in a scrappy but entertaining second period. Did we deserve all three points? Maybe? Who cares? We got all three points and no one can take ‘em away from us.
Who stood out for me? The goal scorers, obviously, and Söyüncü had a fine match. I think I’ll go a little lateral with this one and say that Rodgers deserves a nod for putting something close to his best XI on the pitch, and putting them in largely familiar positions. However, I think the biggest shout has to go to the King Power. The fans were in fine voice and seemed to have a massive impact on the match.
The win takes us up to....second on the table! Hurray for playing the early match on Saturday, eh? The Foxes are sitting on 11 points through 6 matches, three of which were against the big six I’ll remind you. Our next match is on Tuesday against the Hatters of Luton Town at Kenilworth Road. League play resumes next Sunday as we host Newcastle and then it’s off to Anfield to take on the only team above us on the table.