Leicester City Fan reporter SCOTT DAVIES brings you the fans view from the FA Cup draw at White Hart Lane….
City traveled to White Heart Lane in the first of two encounters with Spurs in 3 days. This is a fixture City won here in the same competition last season, after a last minute Jeff Schlupp goal for the Foxes.
Tottenham have been hotly tipped to do well in this competition and with City fielding what was perceived to be a weakened side, many Spurs fans and pundits considered this an easy win for the home side.
City were without Vardy who underwent a groin op last week and Mahrez was on the bench. A complete change to the back four, with Morgan missing, meaning Schmeichel took the armband to lead the team out. Most Foxes eyes were on the new signing Damarai Gray and the recently returned Chilwell, as the two youngsters took centre stage with Ranieri favouring a 433.
Spurs themselves fielded a team without Kane, Alli, Bentaleb and Lemala who were all on the bench, but they still had some big threats in Chadli, Eriksen and Rose.
Spurs started strongly and City seemed to struggle with the wide play from the Lilywhites. Both flanks were exposed due to the lack of wide players in the 3 man midfield, with De Laet and Chilwell struggling to cope in the early stages.
On 8 minutes, Spurs took the lead. Chadli took advantage of the extra space down the left and delivered a strong shot towards goal which Schmeichel saved at full stretch, but decided to punch the ball rather than catch it. The ball fell to Christian Eriksen who struck the rebound first time past the hapless Foxes keeper.
On 14, Wasilewski committed a poor tackle on Danny Rose for which he received a yellow card and it looked ominous for the Pole as one more clumsy tackle could cost him and City dearly. However, he made up for it 4 minutes later when debutant Gray played in a superb corner which Wasilewski powered home with his head for only his second goal in City colours.
City were happy to let Spurs dominate, but battled well despite looking shaky at the back. Inler looked like the player we’ve all been waiting to see as he tackled hard, tracked back and was organising the players around him, showing us why is his captain of his country. City saw at the half at 1-1 in an entertaining cup tie.
Ranieri clearly felt the 433 was not planning how he’d hoped and he changed Okazaki for Kante at half time. The Italian probably also had one eye on Wednesdays league game and felt Kante needed to be rested in preparation for that.
The Foxes reshuffled into a traditional 442 and were stronger for it. 2 minutes after his introduction, Okazaki made it 2-1. Chilwell took down the ball superbly after a City corner was cleared, before laying it off to King who played Okazaki into space. The Japanese international still had work to do as he weaved his way through the Spurs defence. His first shot was saved, but he controlled the rebound and smashed the ball off the post with his left foot, reeling away in delight with that infectious smile.
WATCH THE OKAZAKI GOAL HERE….
Whilst Spurs dominated possession, City looked solid and kept their shape well. Inler continued to boss the middle forming a strong partnership with King. Chilwell looked more comfortable in the 442 system and had a superb second half, not only defending, but pushing forward on the break too.
Gray had a decent debut and went close himself on 63 as his shot was deflected just wide, before being replaced by Albrighton on 65.
Spurs had to revert to 3 of their 4 stars who were on the bench. Kane, Bentaleb and Alli came on as Chadli, Carroll and Dier made way. However, City were cruising with strong performances all over the field, putting to bed some comments of a lack of depth in the squad.
However, on 89 minutes, the ref gave a penalty to Spurs which looked extremely harsh. As Dyer was back defending, the ball bounced behind him and as he turned, the ball skimmed his fingers. There is no way it could have been deliberate, as he did not have the ball in sight, but the ref pointed to the spot and Kane dispatched the penalty past Schmeichel, who guessed right, but couldn’t keep it out.
The game finished and the match comes back to Filbert Way on the 19th January. A fixture City could do without, but it gives Ranieri the chance to bring in the fringe and the youth once again and prepare them for the remainder of the campaign as we go in search of Champions League football. (Can’t believe I’m saying that!)
Many positives to take from the game and let’s hope we get revenge on Wednesday in what will be a valuable 3 points.
Man of the Match – Gokhan Inler
WATCH THE MATCH HIGHLIGHTS HERE….