Tottenham Hotspur vs Leeds United
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Referee: Andre Marriner
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Antonio Conte takes the helm for his second game back in the Premier League, with Tottenham Hotspur taking on Leeds United – another team underperforming in the goal department.
The lack of goals is perhaps more critical for the North London outfit, considering the firepower they possess paired with the fact that they haven’t had a shot on target in the last two league fixtures. However, last weekend Tottenham had some fleeting moments of slick attacking movement, which led to a few opportunities which should have tested Jordan Pickford in goal at the very least. Antonio Conte’s effect has been felt, even if the statistics imply otherwise.
Harry Kane should be able to benefit from an injection of attacking threat in the squad, as he will be at the tip of the needle. Having scored just one goal in the Premier League, the Englishman could do with transferring his international form to the domestic competition. His national team netted ten against San Marino on Monday evening, and Kane grabbed four in fifteen minutes in that match. Of course, Spurs won’t be playing teams as unqualified as San Marino, but the piercing threat that Kane possesses is still there for all to see.
A somewhat surprising statistic, and a promising piece of information for both fans and manager alike, was published by the Premier League this week – Sergio Reguilon has completed the most successful crosses this season. In fact, Spurs looked most threatening from crosses two weekends ago against Everton. Perhaps Reguilon is the key to getting Kane firing again for his club, since we all know how well the 28-year-old can dispatch an aerial opportunity.
Leeds themselves are in a bit of a rut in front of goal, causing them to flirt with the relegation zone each week since the start of the season. However, mostly thanks to Raphinha, Leeds have managed to rack up enough goals to instill some confidence amongst the whole squad. They are rising slowly up the table and could be seeing a return of the Bielsa ball we were all treated to last season.
Leeds were much improved in their last outing against Leicester and were perhaps a little unlucky to come away with just a point. Bielsa’s men led the way with the number of shots, passes and general positive football, but you couldn’t help but feel frustrated on behalf of the squad in that, had an encouraging performance like that come against the likes of a few other teams Leeds have faced this year, the Yorkshire outfit may not have been taunted with suggestions of a relegation battle at this stage of the season.
While praises are deserved, the sheer number of decent chances on goal versus the one time the ball actually ended up in the net is a little disappointing. Five shots on target of a total 18 is not superb, and the man that could sway that statistic has been injured for a couple months, currently with no specified return date. Patrick Bamford earned an England call-up off the back of his excellent performances last season, so it’s understandable that Leeds are struggling for goals without him.
Cristian Romero, who has been establishing himself in the Tottenham defence this season, has sadly picked up an injury on international duty. A timescale on the Argentinian’s return is currently unknown.
Romero’s compatriot Giovani Lo Celso is almost ready for a return to action, but his reassessment may reveal another week on the sidelines.
Oliver Skipp will also be unavailable for one match, having picked up his fifth yellow card of the season.
Patrick Bamford will again be unavailable ahead of Sunday’s clash, as will Robin Koch and Luke Ayling, each with respective long-term injuries.
Neither Junior Firpo nor Jamie Shackleton have played since October, but both are suffering from a lack of match fitness, and may not feature this weekend.
Predicted Starting XIs
Tottenham Hotspur (3-4-3): Lloris; Davies, Dier, Tanganga; Reguilon, Ndombele, Hojbjerg, Emerson; Son, Kane, Lucas
Leeds United (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Struijk, Cooper, Llorente, Dallas; Phillips; Harrison, Forshaw, Rodrigo, Raphinha; James
Score Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Leeds United
Both teams showed signs of improvement in their respective draws last weekend, so perhaps it’s realistic to suggest a stalemate this weekend. Both teams will be eager to demonstrate their attacking flair, so there could be more goals than many expect.