After dropping points in each of their last four matches, Tottenham Hotspur will hope to get their top four challenge back on track with victory at home to Leeds United on Saturday (12:30pm, live on BT Sport).
Spurs were flying high as Premier League leaders after their North London derby victory over Arsenal in early December and were being talked of as potential title challengers. Two draws and two defeats later, they have dropped to a position three points shy of even the top four.
Jose Mourinho’s side went ahead through a Tanguy Ndombele strike inside the opening minute away to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday. They created very little thereafter and eventually paid the price for dropping back and inviting pressure by conceding a late equaliser with a header from a right-wing corner.
Spurs began the campaign in swashbuckling form with early 5-2 and 6-1 victories away to Southampton and Manchester United respectively, but seem to have adopted a more cautious game plan after giving up a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 with West Ham in mid-October. They have since neither scored nor conceded more than twice in a match.
At first, it seemed to work out, with the concession of just one goal across their subsequent six fixtures yielding five wins and a draw. Ties against Wolves and Crystal Palace in addition to defeats to leaders Liverpool and fellow top four aspirants Leicester City have begun to bring into question the validity of Mourinho’s approach. A stodgier style of play can perhaps be tolerated if strong results follow. It is much harder to justify if they don’t.
Saturday’s opponents Leeds found themselves on the opposite end of that argument following their 2-6 loss away to Manchester United less than a fortnight back. Pundits began to criticise the bold, attacking style of coach Marcelo Bielsa, suggesting that it was simply suicidal in the top flight and that a more balanced approach might be more appropriate.
Aside from the fact that it was that very same style of play that lifted Leeds back into the Premier League after more than a decade and a half away, and with the majority of a squad who had finished in mid-table prior to Bielsa’s arrival, the club were also not really in any real danger of relegation at that stage. Their points accumulation rate was that of a lower mid-table side at worst, which is probably a fair expectation for a first season back at the top table.
Subsequent victories over Burnley and West Bromwich Albion have simply reinforced the viability of Bielsa’s game plan. After a 1-0 triumph in the former, Leeds ended the calendar year with a bumper 5-0 win in the latter. An own goal gave them an early lead, before Ezgjan Alioski, Jack Harrison and Rodrigo added further goals prior to the interval. Raphinha gave the scoreline additional gloss with a second-half strike.
Somewhat amusingly given the narrative that was forming around them, Bielsa and his side now have the opportunity to complete a trio of triumphs over three of the more famed proponents of a more cautious approach. After Sean Dyche and Sam Allardyce, could Mourinho be their next victim?
Despite the disparity in player quality, Leeds might have had a decent shot at upsetting their hosts in normal conditions. Not only do Spurs have a lighter injury list coming into this fixture (Leeds have three potential starting central defenders out of action) but they have also benefited from an unexpected rest period ahead of this fixture after their match against Fulham on Wednesday was called off due to a COVID-19 outbreak at their would-be hosts.
Spurs have the attacking potency in transitional phases of play to take advantage of any spaces that open up due to their visitors’ expansive approach, and while Leeds can also be expected to cause them some problems at the other end, the home side should be able to out fire them to three points. So the Tottenham Hotspur vs Leeds United betting tip for this preview is:
- Bet on Tottenham Hotspur to win in a match in which both teams score @ best odds of 15/8 with Bet365, William Hill or Betfred.
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