Wednesday night sees a key game at the top of the table, as Mauricio Pochettino and Claudio Ranieri go head to head for the second time in a matter of days, following Tottenham and Leicester’s 2-2 draw in the FA Cup at the weekend.
Realistically both side’s title aspirations are slim, with Man City and Arsenal the favourites. Leicester sat atop the table for Christmas but is the momentum that carried them there slowly running out?
It’s been a tremendous campaign for the Foxes, who this time last term were in a relegation dog fight and seemingly looked like returning to The Championship after just one season back in the top flight.
With no win in their last four games and golden boys Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez having gone off the boil somewhat, perhaps now isn’t the best time to be facing an inform Tottenham.
Sunday’s 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane will have no bearing on the outcome of tonight’s game, with both Pochettino and Ranieri making wholesale changes and resting some of their key players like Kane, Alli, Mahrez, Albrighton and Morgan.
The Foxes undoubtedly have a real chance of finishing in the top four as they come into the second half of the season, but Wednesday’s match could have a huge say as to whether they can turn their dreams into a reality.
We’ve all seen the unpredictability of the Premier League this season with the likes of Bournemouth, Watford and Leicester all causing upsets, Manchester United continue to falter while Chelsea have opened the door for somebody to take their Champions League place after 13 consecutive years in the competition.
Consistency, as we all know, is key but there has been little of it at both ends of the table with no side able to build a gap between them and their rivals. Down at the bottom Chelsea still find themselves only six points off the relegation places and at the top Arsenal and Manchester City have struggled to race clear of each other as well as the likes of Tottenham and Leicester who are breathing down their necks.
Victory for either side is key; for Leicester it will see a return to winning ways and could potentially be the start of another superb run, whilst for Tottenham it will open up an even bigger gap between them and Manchester United and possibly bring them closer to City and Arsenal.
A key battle will see Eric Dier tasked with keeping Mahrez quiet. Although Dier plays centrally and Mahrez starts out wide, the Leicester man has been at his most effective when he’s come off the flanks into central positions. It will be up to Dier, who plays just in front of the back four to sweep up the danger and limit the Algerian’s influence.
Both sides have been superb defensively, with Alderweireld and Vertonghen becoming a formidable partnership at White Hart Lane while Morgan and Huth have been just as good for Ranieri. It will be down to who’s forward line can be more clinical on the day. Leicester are at the obvious disadvantage with star man Vardy out, but it opens the door for Okazaki to continue where he left off on Sunday with a superb solo goal; that said Harry Kane continues to shine and will be looking to build on his late equaliser from the spot.
Both times these sides have met this term, it’s ended all square, although if both sides have aspirations of Champions League football next season, the question is will they be willing to settle for the draw?
Of course nothing will be won or lost tonight, although as mentioned earlier it could have a huge say as to where both these sides end up considering how close they sit in the table.
Will Ranieiri’s men cause another surprise or will Pochettino’s side continue to march on up the table?
Written by George, who can be found on Twitter @GClarke_