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What we learned from Leicester City vs Tottenham Hotspur

How to play Leicester City football in 2019

Leicester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

That’s a little more like it. Despite going behind, Leicester City put in one of their best 90 minute performances of the season against Tottenham Hotspur, coming back to win a game for the first time in 45 tries. Here’s what we can take away from that.

1. It’s all about intent

Last week, we went away to Old Trafford and dominated possession with 58% of the ball. This week, at home, Spurs held us to 44%. Why did it feel like those numbers should've been switched? As the Foxes have shown us before, it’s not the size of your possession, but what you do with it.

We’ve been over the United game before, but it was a disappointing lack of intent starting with the lineup choices and a mentality that ran on into the game. This time Brendan Rodgers opted to shrug off the guise of Little Old Leicester and play with the confidence of a team that expects to take points every week.

We are a top side now – I think we have to be seen as one of those top sides. Nobody will want to come to this place when it’s rocking like this. If you look at our performances at Chelsea and United, we came away shaking our heads in disappointment because we didn’t get what we deserved. We’re showing we’re a big threat now - James Maddison didn’t hold back to BT Sport

It’s not about looking to control the flow of the game necessarily, especially not against very strong teams, who are also looking to do just that. The key, as ever, it to make sure you at least try to do something with it when do get hold of the ball.

Whether it was genuine tactical changes, or just the mentality instilled in the players before the game, it was clear that they were all out there looking to move the ball forward and create chances. The added confidence to keep pushing forward helped a team that shoots from range far too often to get off 10 shots from inside the penalty area. So of course it was the late screamer from distance that took the points...

2. Play to your strengths (it’s James Maddison btw)

This team has some very good defensive talent: Wilfred Ndidi is a machine, Çağlar Söyüncü is everything we ever needed from Harry Maguire and Jonny Evans is one of the league’s most consistent defenders.

Still, it’s not 2014/15 and this is not a team that I expect to grind out 1-0 wins over and over. Especially not when you’re playing Spurs and you can ink Harry Kane’s first goal onto the scoresheet the minute he’s named in their 11.

This is the new look 2019 Leicester City and their strength is putting themselves on the front foot and playing with attacking intent. Obviously, positionally it was key to have Maddison in the middle, running the show and leading the team in shots, shots on target, key passes and xA.

He’s not the only one benefitting though. A directed attempt to play on the front foot, even in their own half, brought the best performance of the season for Youri Tielemans, while Wilfred Ndidi was happy to take on the extra defensive work.

Harvey Barnes was able to get himself much more involved in dangerous areas than he had previously, while Chilwell and Pererira looked back to their dangerous best. Getting those plays on the front foot out wide, looking forward with the ball, got Jamie Vardy involved in the right areas. He didn’t score this time, but that’s where 20+ goals are available this season.

3. Still work to be done

If there was one position that didn’t ever seem to click, it was the right wing, and it’s not the first time we’re saying that. Ayoze Perez led the team in possession give aways without ever really balancing it with chances created (for himself or others).

Dennis Praet came on for the last half an hour and was just ok, too. More controlled, more careful with the ball, but probably even less of a real winger than Perez is. I think the problem there is that role being asked for doesn’t suit either player.

It is, however, the perfect fit for Marc Albrighton, so this issue does seem to sort itself out fairly quickly.

The key is to find something that these players can do. Both are talented and probably involved in the best 14 players we have, and the Foxes probably could be getting more from their substitutes.

In Perez, Praet and Choudhury in particular, the Foxes have some great players to bring on and change games. The problem is, Vardy, Tielemans and Ndidi don’t need to come off very often. Rodgers might have to get creative to find more ways of using his subs.