81 min Kane is doing his best to drag something out of Spurs, finding Reguilon, who punches a low cross for Son. But he gets his angles wrong, and Schmeichel collects under no pressure.
79 min Hmmm, that was close. Barnes ran by Sissoko, who extended an arm and grabbed him around the torso – not for very long, but nevertheless. I’m glad that’s not a penalty, but the ref’s certainty is not for me,
78 min Here come Leicester again, darting down the right with Vardy, and the ball goes hard into Barnes, who falls when Sissoko blunders either into or close to him. The ref waves Barnes up in that patronising manner and like he can be certain that what he thinks happened happened, but on this occasion VAR backs him up.
77 min “This is all very well,” says Andy Tuohy. “But is the best team losing?”
Better, José. Better.
76 min Spurs are chasing this like a team that doesn’t know how to chase this.
74 min “I am an American Evertonian,” admits Brad Wilson, “and one of the reasons I have become much more of a soccer fan than American football fan over the last 20 years is the endless and infuriating delays replay officiating brought to US football which had enough delays already. Too many times endless replays kill momentum and sap spirit. I hate to see such delays infiltrate footy. Just hate it. I like goal-line technology. Other than that, let the referee do his job and let the great game flow and the passion pour out instead of waiting on VAR.”
At some point, there’ll be tech that means all players have a chip in their boot or something, and then we’ll get an instant call on offside. But otherwise, the game is a glorious, beautiful thing and we meddle with it at our own risk.
72 min Ndidi dives in on Bale and is booked; Bale lashes the free-kick into the rough.
71 min Saaaaave! Spurs win a corner which finds its way to the far post and Son arrives unmarked! But on the slide, he cab’t get a proper connection so the ball loops up and Schmeichel plunges to poke away.
70 min “To cut a long story short: Doherty?” asks Duncan Edwards.
Yes, that was a buy that made a lot of sense, in a Jorge Mendes kind of way, but I guess Mourinho has decided he doesn’t actually like him and there’s not much coming back from that.
68 min The game’s more stretched now, Kane finding space but Vardy doing likewise, and it’s his movement that earns the space for Maddison to waft a shot over the bar.
66 min Back to VAR – sorry, but the goal interrupted us – managers, players and fans who regularly blamed the officials for their team’s incompetence are also to blame for what we’ve got now. Refs are too – a few days ago, David Elleray was banging on about how players’ behaviour is better now, like being rude to refs is consideration on a par with celebrating goals, the finest feeling known to humanity. But ultimately, what has always been the case and will always remain the case is that whatever the ref does, there’s always plenty of scope for teams to do something that reverses the situation.
65 min So what’s going on with Dele Alli then? He seemed like the identikit Mourinho player – great numbers, excellent in big games, loads of bronca – but can’t even get in the squad. What gives?
64 min Mourinho does what he might’ve done before kick-off and removes Aurier, Winks coming on in his stead. That should sort it.
62 min Kane has a sight of goal, but Schmeichel appears set to save his bouncing effort just as my Sky cuts out.
60 min Leicester send on Amartey, back from another injury, for Castagne.
GOAL! Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Leicester City (Alderweireld own goal, 59)
Excellent play from Albrighton, driving down the right and slinging over a fine cross, allows Vardy to do what he does, thirsting for the ball more than anyone else. He hangs, nails Sissoko, and his header necessarily hits Alderweireld on its way by Lloris. That’s no more than Leicester deserve for their enterprise and no more than Spurs deserve for their cowardice.
58 min “It seems to me, Daniel, that the offside rule has changed to accommodate VAR, not to improve the game, emails Barry Bryan. “There would not have been any dispute Maddison was on before it. I am, above all, sad to see such a lovely goal consigned to history.”
I’m not sure I quite agree with the thrust of this, though I was always against VAR. Once you invite in technology, the big calls will always be over millimetres, the question is what we love more, the flow and spontaneity of the game, or 98 percent correct calls over 97 %. No one fell in love with football because of its legal framework, but the refs and authorities don’t get that.
56 min Mourinho picking Aurier reminds me of when Diego Simeone signed Alvaro Morata – doing something out of character but which guaranteed perpetual fury.
55 min Dier spreads wide to Aurier, who has a look, a think, and spanks a cross behind like he’s been doing it all his life.
54 min Leicester look really lively – they’ve been much quicker to the ball than Spurs, and more inclined to commit men forward.
53 min The thing with Spurs’ style is because they’ve deployed it in pretty much every game, now that they need something different, you wonder if they’re capable.
52 min “Granted that this match isn’t over, Clive,” emails Ian Copestake, “but in the narrative of this season, Spurs’ loss week seems like a turning point for both teams. If this season was hardboiled fiction Spurs would be facing cement boots while Liverpool go off with the dame.”
But what did she mean by it?
50 min But bad news follows for Spurs, Lo Celso forced off with Moura coming on. That’s a proper nause for Mourinho, who presumably toyed with taking him off before going for Ndombele and will presumably be without him for the festive gorging.
GOAL DISALLOWED! Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Leicester City
The lines are racked, and Maddison’s left shoulder was offside.
GOAL! Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Leicester City (Maddison 48)
Justin punts one in behind and Maddison is free, easing between Dier and Reguilon neither of whom is anywhere near him. His first touch is sensational, transferring the ball into stride, and his finish, smacked sidefooted across Llrois, is pretty nifty too! We got ourselves a ball-game!
47 min Lo Celso goes down and clutches a hamstring – that doesn’t look good – but he seems fine.
46 min “Do you think Spurs are under-performing or over-performing this season?” asks Ryan Jennings. “You seem to have made pretty clear that you think Mourinho’s tactics are fundamentally flawed . Do you think that’s reflected in the league table?”
No, the table always reflects which teams are doing best at what the it’s there to measure. Spurs are performing at their level, I just think they’re capable of a better one.
46 min Yup, here’s … Gareth. I imagine he’ll go to the right, with Lo Celso moving into midfield.
That goal will hopefully make for a better second half, because Spurs will have to do something. They’ve got the players to too, but will Mourinho try and increase the pressure gradually or set them away immediately? Chelsea Mourinho would have got after it immediately and a draw isn’t much use to Spurs here, but you don’t really know these days.
Half-time: Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Leicester City
I’m sure Mourinho will blame Aurier, which is fair in some ways, but who is it inviting pressure on a defence with him in it?
GOAL! Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Leicester City (Vardy pen, 45+3)
Lloris dives left and Vardy cleanses down the middle. I daresay Aurier will receive some sentiments during the interval.
45+2 min Aurier is suuuuuuch an I don’t even know what. Justin chases a bouncing ball right on the corner of the box, nothing happening whatsoever, so what else can Aurier do but barge through him for a laugh? The ref will check VAR, but it’s clear.
45 min Reguilon scurries to the line to dig out a cross, on the slide when Ndombele’s pass has too much on it, and it’s a really good effort too, but Kane can’t quite crane enough neck muscles behind the ball to impart the power necessary to test Schmeiehel.
44 min Nice from Ndidi and Barnes, hunting down Sissoko for the latter to win possession and former to transfer it to Maddison. He takes a touch, has a look, and cracks one straight at Lloris, who’ll be pleased to remember that he exists.
43 min If Spurs took off Sissoko and brought on Bale or Bergwijn, they’d obviously be more fun, but I also think they’d be more better.
41 min Chance! I promise! Son’s corner picks out Kane, and though he has to dive for it, it’s a free header and you’d expect him to score, but he gets right underneath it and goes too high.
40 min Aurier puts a ball into space for Kane to chase in behind Fofana and he crosses well, for Son at the back post; he nods down, but Justin recovers to block Lo Celso, arriving to shoot.
39 min How on earth did Arsenal go to Saint Etienne for a centre-back and come back with Saliba while leaving Fofana there?
38 min Barnes gets a boot in the face, giving Maddison the chance to swing a ball in. It’s not a bad effort either, but Fofana is surrounded by white shirts, and though he does really well to get a header in, he shoved Dier before so doing.
36 min “About Spurs’ gameplan,” begins Adam Kline-Schoder, “I am inclined to agree with your point that simply containing Leicester and hoping to counter may be the entirety of it. I think Leicester don’t really have the tools to easily pick decent teams apart, and especially so if Maddison and Tielemans are kept quiet as they are today (so far). I think putting a pacy forward in Son and a deep lying forward in Kane up against an impressive-but-young defender and an older and potentially slower one is a good shout, and keeping two central-midfielders wide certainly suffocates the space for Leicester’s wingers. All of which are good ways of protecting Spurs, but not exactly the most proactive. I for one would like to see a return in the second half to the 4-2-3-1 cum 6-3-1 in defence which has worked so well. I think matching Leicester numerically in the midfield would help them get more of a foothold, and would create time to string passes together (which you mentioned have been missing as yet).
I say this with apologies to Mary Waltz, as this tactics nerd is loving the battle! I send her caffeinated thoughts from afar.”
It could just do with a bit more devil – Spurs are playing with zip or intensity, which can make the difference when the approach is so simple.
34 min Spurs win another free-kick, 25 yards out and right of centre – it’s not Harrance Kane TerritoryTM but he’ll have a go anyway, sweeping towards the far post, where Schmeichel palms away easily enough. I think that might be the first save made by either goalie.
32 min But here comes the counter! Kane does really well to get the ball away as Albrighton dives in a way not dissimilar to how Phil Jagielka tried to stop Mason Greenwood in midweek. Like Greenwood, Kane has already moved the ball on, but Spurs have to go wide to Aurier and the move breaks down right about there. Once the ball’s dead, the ref returns to caution Albrighton.
31 min Tielemans takes a free-lick quickly, drilling out to Justin in the absence of Reguilon, stranded and trying to block the taking. Son, though, is paying attention an gets back to cover.
30 min “I appreciate that formation and tactics enthusiasts might find this fascinating,” says Mary Waltz, “but I’m about to fall asleep.”
Yeah, “it’s one of those” alright. Leicester are doing their best to get after it, but Spurs are having no such thing.
29 min And Jamie Vardy tries to provide it, taking possession inside the box and looking to nip around the outside of Aurier before crossing to where he’d ordinarily be.
27 min Barnes burrows down the left, but unhappy with the options awaiting him, tries a backheel for Castagne that’s easily intercepted. This game needs a goal like water, like breath, like rain, like mercy.
25 min “Flat 4-4-2 not very Mourinho,” returns Yash Gupta, “but I think this is another tactical change from Mourinho in which he is taking away Sissoko from the centre and finally introducing someone who can pass the ball. Hojbjerg-Ndombele-Lo Celso is starting to happen, at least until Spurs concede two goals early and Mourinho introduces Rodon and Davies in 15th minute!”
I guess we’re past then, but there’s not much in the way of passing coming from Spurs’ midfield. The alteration is probably to stop Maddison and Vardy, rather than liberate Ndombele and Lo Celso.
24 min It’s not all that clear what Spurs’ gameplan is, beyond hope not to concede and hope to score on the counter. That might be enough, but I thought the change of formation might mean something a little different.
22 min Spurs could really do with a passer at the base of their midfield. Neither Hojbjerg nor Sissoko have the range to get them up the pitch, and though the latter can run with the ball, it seems unlikely that such behaviour would be encouraged by his gaffer.
20 min Justin wins a header and Maddison prods out to Albrighton. His cross is a good one too, so Alderweireld, unhappy that Reguilon allowed it, has to head behind. The corner, though it’s really well delivered by Maddison, comes to nowt, again headed away by Alderweireld.
19 min Excellent from Justin, who looks so incisive and composed. He dashes down the line and the pressure persuades Hojbjerg to slice out of play; this is good from Leicester, who are taxing Spurs’ less accomplished technicians without quite creating anything.
17 min Leicester move it across the face of the Spurs box, working them before Barnes finds Maddison with a shooting lane in front of him. He decides to have a shy, but can only waft over the bar from 20 yards.
16 min Better from Spurs, Kane fighting for possession outside the box before finding Son on its left-hand side. Ordinarily he’d shoot from here but this time he feeds a low cross into the middle, seeking Ndombele who can’t get close enough to finish. The flag then goes up, but both players looked onside to me.