Alex Keble looks forward to a potentially tasty tussle between Andros Townsend and Leicester's Jeff Schlupp...
Leicester's recent switch to a 3-5-2 formation has yet to yield a change in the club's fortunes, but in the 0-0 draw with Hull last weekend, Nigel Pearson's decision to play Jeffrey Schlupp as a wing-back showed signs of promise. A head-to-head battle on that flank between Andros Townsend and Schlupp could be where this match is decided.
Schlupp has been one of the livelier performers for Leicester this season, his power and pace from the left flank a key component in the majority of their counter-attacks. However, against Hull he was asked to perform a more complex defensive role, making four tackles, three dribbles, and having 66 touches of the ball to dominate the left flank.
This Saturday will be a tougher task, with Townsend – looking more confident as the season progresses, despite a poor showing at Old Trafford last weekend – likely to hug the same touchline. Across his last three starts, Townsend has averaged three dribbles per game and seven crosses, up from a season average of 0.8 dribbles and 3.5 crosses.
Note how Townsend gets to the byline, offering an alternative route for Spurs.
It is highly likely that Spurs will dominate possession (58.2% average at home), meaning that Schlupp will operate primarily as a defender – a role he was first introduced to by former Foxes boss Sven-Goran Eriksson. However, with Townsend's propensity to play high up the pitch and defend sporadically, Leicester's new wing-back will be ready to pounce on any opportunity to counter-attack.
Townsend tracks back to tackle, but his defensive contributions are fairly limited. Schlupp enjoys dribbling on the break, but is somewhat unpredictable.
Tottenham have struggled to penetrate opposition teams all season, partly because of a lack of speed in attacking areas and partly because their playmakers all prefer to operate in central areas of the pitch.
Townsend's pace offers a partial solution to this issue, and with Schlupp representing Leicester's main threat, it is quite possible that the winner of this individual battle will secure victory for their team.