like Leicester City have really gone to pieces after their FA Cup exit
at the hands of Wycombe Wanderers. They have had their worst ever
run in the Premiership with eight straight defeats, which could be made
worse on Saturday when Tottenham travel to Filbert Street.
With Tim Flowers
suffering what seems to be an arthritic condition in his hip, Simon
Royce has been handed the gloves to keep goal and has done alright, but
he does not command his defence as well as the number one choice.
If Flowers is selected, then Spurs should work him to see how mobile and
flexible he is. Royce can produce stunning reflex saves, but looks
vulnerable in the air.
In defence the Foxes will
miss the solid, but slightly "over exuberant" Gerry Taggart,
who is missing with an injured knee. Matt Elliott is another
pillar of the defence, adding height at set pieces and taking everything
in the air in central defence, but he is out for the rest of the season
- a knee injury victim. This leaves them a bit light in the centre
of defence and as Les' hat trick in the home match this season
showed, he can still cause problems for defenders. Gary Rowett
started the season quite well, but appears to have lost his way a bit
lately. While Spurs are short up front, this might not be of great
consequence, but Rebrov could play on his shoulder and would be better
suited to that tactic than trying to win balls in the air against
Elliott. Calum Davidson has also played in the middle of the back
four, but may be out with an injured ankle. Frank Sinclair could
feature in the back line, as could youngsters Tommy Goodwin and Damien
Delaney, who have played lately in the absence of more experienced
Hopefully, Robbie Savage
will be playing as it will focus the fans energy into getting behind the
team and at him too. The blonde tart has one line of attack and
that is to try and wind players up into getting sent off. He is,
in my opinion, a very ordinary player who has been fortunate to play at
the top level. Alongside him, Matthew Jones, signed from Leeds
United, will be missing with an injury aggravated while playing for
Wales (thanks for that info Chris) and Steve Guppy is getting a game
every now and then, but looks a shadow of his self from a couple of
years ago, when he worried defences and put in dangerous crosses.
Muzzy Izzet is out too with a calf injury, with Stefan Oakes (out of
favour) and Andy Impey (adding some width) as possibles, but Taylor's
most recent signings Lee Marshall and Junior Lewis are almost certain to
be fielded in the middle of the park. It is the transfer of
players like these that have infuriated some of the Leicester fans as
they see them as not of the quality they deserve.
Ade Akinbiyi was Peter
Taylor's big money signing from Wolverhampton Wanderers that hasn't
really hit it off (yet). He has strength and pace, although
perhaps his touch isn't quite good enough for the Premier League, while
his partner up front - Trevor Benjamin - has fallen on his feet
... or more precisely his backside more often than he has hit the target
this season. The partner most likely to play with him is Dean
Sturridge, who still possesses damaging pace and a good finish despite
not being the player he was five years ago at Derby County. Darren
Eadie is a decent player, although he has been out injured of late, as
he has been for much of the time since his move from Carrow Road.
Arnar Gunnlaugsson is more often used as a substitute, but can surprise
teams with his long range and powerful shooting. Beyond this
there is only Lawrie Dudfield, whose experience has been while on
loan at Chesterfield earlier in the season. Having sold and put
out on loan quite a few players this term, the squad has suffered both
in quality and quantity.
Tactically, Taylor might
know how Glenn will play this game, but he will not be overly familiar
with our young team. Meanwhile, Leicester have shown how fragile
their squad is. On Saturday, they could be further decimated as
injuries have struck an already thinning group of players, so it will be
fairly evenly matched with Spurs fielding a fair amount of
reserves. With a lack of firepower being Tottenham's problem and
because Leicester will be happy to take anything from this match, I
conclude that our last away game of the season will end ...
PREDICTION : -
Leicester City 1 Tottenham 1
For more information on
the opponents and their history, including full result history of
matches between the two teams, click here.
|Leicester City 4
Tottenham 2 - Saturday 5th May 2001
Weather : - Dry, sunny.
Crowd : - 21,056
Referee : - Mike Dean (The Wirral)
Scorers : - Leicester City - Rowett 42,
Sturridge 56, Guppy 82, Savage (pen) 89.
Tottenham - Davies 54, Carr 61
Impey, Sinclair, Rowett (Delaney 81), Guppy, Davidson, Lewis, Savage,
Marshall, Sturridge, Akinbiyi (Benjamin 78).
Subs not used: Royce, Jones, Gunnlaugsson.
Carr, Gardner, Young, Thelwell, Leonhardsen, Clemence, Davies, Sherwood,
Subs not used: Walker, Etherington, Toner, McEwen, Piercy.
Although Spurs only had a shadow of their
first team out today, they should have had enough nous in the side to
hold out for at least a draw against a Foxes side who came into this
game on eight straight defeats. The fact that they were dominating
the game when the score was 2-2 and then let it slip to a 2-4 defeat
raises a few questions.
The weakness on the left side showed up
again, with two of the goals originating from that area. Young has
done well, but Spurs were exposed down that flank and much of that must
be put down to Leonhardsen, who spectacularly disappeared in the second
half. Low crosses into the box lead to both goals from Sturridge
and Guppy, which also meant that the players were not closely
marked. The first goal was also a result of a number of players
not playing to the whistle and asking for a goal kick, believing that
the ball had gone out from the cross. When it was fed onto Rowett,
he had space to sweep in a shot that went past Sullivan. The Spurs
keeper did make one other outstanding save from Akinbiyi in the first
period to preserve Spurs' goal and
Leicester failed to capitalise on the possession they had as Spurs stood
off them and let them dominate.
The goal had come at the other end of a
half that had seen Sturridge hit the bar with a header within a couple
of minutes, but it bounced down and out. Apart from that there was
not a great deal to get excited about. Sherwood hit a 20 yard shot
low towards the Leicester goal and Flowers got down to it, but most of
what Leicester did was through long balls to Akinbiyi, who was well
shepherded by Gardner. Apart from the linesman doing the half Spur
were attacking in getting his flag up more often than the Buckingham
Palace flagpole, there was little to get het up about.
The second half was in contrast to the
first. Spurs had started so slowly against a team that had been on
a losing streak and that allowed the home side to take some of the
initiative. The start of the second period saw Spurs get a corner
and keep up a bit of pressure, which eventually paid off when Carr got
the ball on the right and passed to Davies standing on the edge of the
area. He turned into the box, past his man and hit a shot across
Flowers for the equaliser. The joy didn't last more than a minute
though. A break down the Tottenham left led to an unchallenged
Impey putting in a low cross that Sturridge converted with a back-heel
at the near post. It was a poor goal to concede, especially just
after we had scored and it was to be a warning of things to come.
Even more so when the same player was unmarked in front of goal and
Sully turned his two yard volley away.
Spurs had to steady the ship and a long
ball out of defence saw Ferdinand get climbed all over, but this time
Mike "The Wirral" Dean, actually gave Spurs a free-kick. This was
greeted by the petulant Savage Welshman by kicking the ball away.
Seeing as how he had got away with a scything challenge on Sherwood
("that could have finished his season" one wag behind us said
!), it was amazing that he went into the ref's book for this
"dissent". Of course, this meant that the ball was moved
ten yards nearer to the goal and with Clemence and Carr over the ball, I
didn't have much hope that anything would come from it. I was so
wrong when Clemence ran over the ball and Stephen Carr bent it over the
wall and into the top left hand corner of the goal !! It was a
very good free-kick and I think that should sort out who takes them in
At this stage, it looked like we would go
on and win the match as the ball was being passed around nicely and
players were moving into space to receive it. Another foul gave
Carr the chance to repeat his goal and he tried for the other corner
this time, but the ball flew about six inches over the bar.
Without creating many clear chances, Spurs were on top, but a breakaway
down the Spurs left again ended with Impey putting in a low ball, which
was cleared to Sturridge. His first time swinger across the six
yard box found it's way to the far post, where Guppy nipped in without a
Spurs man on him to score from three yards out. Another sloppy
goal conceded and now Leicester were in front for the third time.
Making the game safe was certain when the Foxes got a penalty in the
last minute; Davidson going down under challenge from Carr and Thelwell
that looked nothing more than obstruction. Even then, Spurs could
have pulled one back, but Les produced an unbelievable header to an
invisible team-mate, when he was unmarked right in front of goal.
Someone asked "Are we in for another two years of that ?"
The disappointing thing about this game
is that it was there for the taking. Leicester are a poor side at
the best of times and Spurs should have gone at them from the off.
Sherwood did OK today, but as the game went on his stamina waned and he
was found out when he couldn't keep up with one of the decidedly
one-paced Leicester midfielders. Leo had a decent enough first
half, but I can't remember him making a notable contribution in the
second and Davies and Clemence both buzzed around with varying degrees
of success. Thelwell looked reasonably sound, but was out-muscled
on some occasions, something that happened to Les a lot and shouldn't
with someone of his physique. Luke Young made a good impression,
but had his problems with defending the left flank on his own, while
Doherty did well enough up front, but his best position would seem to be
in defence. Standing head and shoulders (literally) above his
Spurs team-mates was Anthony Gardner. Cool and calm he collected
most of the balls played forward by City and also used the ball
well. Indeed, when one intended pass came off the side of his boot
and went into touch, it was quite a shock. He could perform well
either in place of or alongside Sol in the defence and his growth into
the position has been a real bonus for Tottenham.
Although, it may have been typical of
Spurs away this season, it was a shame that they couldn't have held on
for at least a draw, but still, with all the new players that Hod is
looking at, this Spurs side will be back next season and I am sure that,
even if only on paper, they will be stronger for it.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - ANTHONY GARDNER
|An away trip to Leicester is like
going back in time about 30 years. Apart from away Cup ties
against teams from lower divisions, when was the last time you heard
fans go "Oooooooooooooh, you're S**t !!" when a goalkeeper
takes a goal-kick and then keep it going for up to 3 minutes afterwards
?? This is only one example of the fine repertoire of songs and
chants that the Leicester City fans came out with during our visit
there. Perhaps it is just an attempt to recreate their glory days
of the 70's and 60's, as many of them were wearing retro shirts,
especially the child of about 17 who was in the front row and spent most
of his time standing on the advertising hoardings and shouting indecipherable
(perhaps due to his local accent) taunts aimed at the Spurs fans.
He was out of his head on something, much like his two friends who
a) shouted into his mobile phone for the majority of the
b) stood swaying for the whole of the first half, before
disappearing below the line of sight and then had to be carried out by
the stewards after half-time, despite him trying to fight the three men
in fluorescent bibs who were trying to help him. Hs
friend a) stood there a full three minutes before realising that b) had
been removed and retro man had gone with him !! The day was only
brightened when the Northern Comic behind us (who at one stage I thought
was Bernard Manning form the sound of him) made a series of cutting
remarks - mainly about our captain for the match. Obviously not
one of Tim's greatest fans !!
To a certain extent they were
more entertaining than the match in the first half. Sturridge hit
the bar early on and they scored near the end of the half, but apart
from that, we had to content ourselves with singing "Robbie Savage,
Robbie Savage, he's got foot and mouth" (to the tune of "He's
got a big fat wife"). It was also nice to hear another chant
from the past - the 80's reprise of "Sex case, Sex case, Hang him,
Hang him, Hang him", which was also aimed at our favourite
Fox. The assistant linesman was sharp with his flag and there were
a procession of offsides, but little else to brighten the proceedings in
the spring sunshine. In fact, the "Tony" who left our
block with 33 minutes gone to go to the pub, as he couldn't stand the
nail-biting tension of whether Spurs would get a result to finish 10th
or 11th, did the right thing.
The second half started better
for Spurs with a period of pressure paying off when Carr fed the ball
onto Davies, just inside the box. He turned and smashed the ball
past Flowers in the Leicester goal. However, it was like the bad
old days, when we let Sturridge back-heel another at the near post
straight away. Homme Savage let Spurs back into it by kicking the
ball away after a free-kick had been given and Carr curled the dead ball
over the wall into the net after the ref had moved it ten yards closer
to the goal. Spurs then started to knock the ball about a bit,
although Stephen Carr's next free-kick went narrowly over the bar and
failed to give us the lead, but it was the home side who went on to
win. Another right wing cross found it's way to the far post,
where Guppy was allowed to run in unmarked to score their third.
It was disappointing that at 2-2,
there only looked like one team who would go on to win it, but that
wasn't the side who eventually did. That was infuriating enough as
Leicester are nothing more than an average team and they only had half
their normal side out too !! To add to that the Leicester Tigers
egg-chasing team were also playing at home, just up the road and getting
out of the god-forsaken place that is Leicester took an hour.
The imperfect end to an imperfect
day. At least the sun was shining and our future, although Hod has
a lot of hard work to do, looks brighter than that of the Foxes side,
who probably wish they could turn the clock back, like their Police, who
made sure some Spurs fans missed the start of the game and then we saw
them marching them to the station after the match. Come on
Leicestershire Constabulary ... that's soooooo 1970's !!
Benny The Ball