Football Features

Maddison proves to be everything Spurs expect of Eriksen: Five things learned from Leicester 2-1 Tottenham

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 14:39, 21 September 2019

Leicester City came from a goal behind to inflict a 2-1 defeat on Tottenham Hotspur.

Harry Kane had spectacularly put the visitors in front at the King Power Stadium before second-half strikes from Ricardo Pereira and James Maddison ensured Brendan Rodger’s men kept all three points.

With the dust now settled, here are five observations from this encounter.

1. The quintessential number nine

Inevitable was an understatement. Heading into this weekend’s showdown the Foxes were well aware of his numbers against them. So, it should have come as no surprise when he put Spurs in front. That person in question is arguably Europe’s most potent centre-forward, or at the very least in the conversation, once incredulity brushed aside as a ‘one season wonder’, Harry Kane is a number nine par excellence, and his goal summed up why.

It was a strike from the most unlikely of situations, having broken into Leicester’s penalty box, Kane was tumbling down but managed to get enough connection to slot pass an outstretched Kasper Schmeichel. It was an effort that produced more questions than answers. But what’s fact is this was Kane’s 14th strike against the Foxes in just his 13th appearance. There is no side he’s registered more in his professional career.

2. Wisdom of the crowd

The advent of VAR (video assistant referee) wasn’t exactly met with universal approval. Whilst some felt such technology was long overdue, many others saw the introduction as robbing the game of those heated discussions among friends. But if we are being honest the latter hasn’t exactly transpired. If anything, those conversations have amplified even further. The confusing aspect – how VAR is operated and when it should be called upon – has led to new talking points.

Saturday afternoon’s game was yet another chapter. Leicester felt they had gone in front through Wilfred Ndidi after a goalmouth scramble, but it was soon chalked off after they were deemed to be offside in the build-up, nevertheless there was a cacophony of boos – which turned into cheers in the second half when Serge Aurier saw his own effort reversed for the same offence – illustrating more than ever football is nothing without drama.

3. One full-back denied, the other will not be

How a game can change in the blink of an eye. Aurier, as mentioned, felt he doubled Spurs’ lead thus inching them ever closer to three valuable points, but in the lead up Son Heung-min was deemed to have been in an offside position. Moments later his Leicester counterpart, the ever-threatening Ricardo Pereira, levelled proceedings.

The 25-year-old Portuguese right-back had earlier warned the Lilywhites reserve goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, who was making only his fifth appearance since joining from Southampton in August 2017, and up till conceding was repaying Pochettino’s faith.

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4. House blown down

James Maddison was undoubtedly one of the Premier League’s star men last term. So much was said and written about him during his time at Norwich City with those lauding the young central midfielder feeling he was more than capable of making the step up to the big time. And they were spot on. Maddison was nothing short of immense for Leicester City, he was the only player to create 100 goalscoring chances in England’s top division, and the first English player to do so since Leighton Baines in 2012/13.

His unquestionable talent aside, there is one area that is fast becoming frustrating. Maddison’s debut campaign saw him bag seven goals, many of which came from a dead ball situation, but it has been a struggle to open his account this season. But not for the want of trying. Going into Saturday’s game he’d produce 16 shots on goal (one on target) without scoring; against Spurs Maddison added another three before finally ending the famine. It ultimately took 31 shots before his name graced a Premier League scoresheet.

It was curious that he’d end his drought against Spurs given they seemingly coveted him as a potential replacement for Christian Eriksen, who seemingly wanted out this summer, and the Dane found himself starting on the bench prior to an 11-minute cameo.

5. Further away days blues

Spurs haven’t been the best of travellers of late. Going into matchday six of the 20192/20 Premier League campaign they’ve failed to win their previous eight matches on the road. Make that nine consecutive Premier League away games without victory (seven defeats and two draws). The club’s longest such run in the top-flight came between April and December 2006, the streak back then totalled 10 games, their next two upcoming trips are at Brighton & Hove Albion and then league leaders Liverpool.

What must surely infuriate Pochettino is how they’ve been the architects of their own downfall. In many of those matches they’ve either taken the lead before snatching a defeat or draw from the jaws of victory or pulled themselves back into the game before allowing a point to slip away.