Repeat of the 1961 FA Cup final will see high-flying Tottenham Hotspur host Premier League surprise package Leicester City in the third round clash at White Hart Lane. And with the two sides set for a league meeting at the same venue mere three days later, it is hardly surprising both managers have revealed they will ring changes to their respective starting line-ups.
Tottenham have earned the tag of perennial underachievers over the years as the heavy investment in the playing squad didn’t seem to be paying out. It is for that reason that many, myself included, doubted their top 4 chances this season, especially since their summer transfer dealings seemed far from impressive. But, even though Spurs were quite disappointing in the early exchanges, things soon fell into place, as Harry Kane was able to rediscover his scoring touch, Dele Alli started showing his remarkable potential and Toby Alderweireld established a very good defensive partnership with compatriot Jan Vertonghen despite the pair having mostly been used as full-backs in the Belgium national team. A run of very good results saw Spurs leapfrog Manchester United in the standings and create a three-point advantage in the race for Champions League positions, with 1-1 stalemate at Goodison not a bad way to start the New Year. And even though Mauricio Pochettino will now rest his star men, there will be quite a few quality footballers in the team to face Leicester regardless.
There will be a number of changes to the starting line-up, with Nacer Chadli, Danny Rose, Nabil Bentaleb and Heung-Min Son all expected to start.
Moussa Dembele, Clinton N’Jie and Alex Pritchard remain on the sidelines, but Harry Kane could keep his place in the side.
The remarkable rise of Leicester City has been the number one story in English media and the fact of the matter is that Claudio Ranieri and his men deserve every bit of praise they are receiving. But, in spite of all their impressive displays, it was only a matter of time before their descend in the Premier League standings was about to start. The moment has come as the Foxes not only failed to win any of their last three fixtures, but also couldn’t score a single goal in the process. The fact that Riyad Mahrez missed a penalty wouldn’t be such a big problem if Leicester had taken advantage of having an extra man on the pitch to beat Bournemouth, but the failure to do so is enough to suggest that the Foxes have started doubting their own abilities. Just like his Spurs counterpart, Claudio Ranieri will ring wholesale changes, but given that Leicester’s back-ups are not as good as Tottenham’s, the winless run looks set to continue at White Hart Lane.
Jamie Vardy misses out through a groin problem, while Riyad Mahrez, N’Golo Kante and few other first team regulars will be rested.
New signing Demarai Gray is in line to make his debut, with Gokhan Inler, Shinji Okazaki and Nahan Dyer also expected to start.
Key Factors to Consider
- Spurs won six of last nine fixtures at White Hart Lane (D2 L1)
- Tottenham kept a clean sheet in every other home games in Premiership
- Leicester failed to score in last three matches
- Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez are both expected to miss out
- Both teams have scored in five of Spurs’ last seven home fixtures
Tottenham are currently in much better form than the opposition and the players who are likely to be given a chance to impress seem to have enough quality to defeat under-strength Leicester. The Foxes are likely to struggle without Vardy and Mahrez in the side, meaning that home win appears on the cards.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 5/8