Aiming to avoid a third successive defeat in all tournaments before the World Cup break, Tottenham Hotspur welcome Leeds United to North London for Saturday’s Premier League match.
The Lilywhites lost 2-0 to Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, while their visitors also exited the competition at the hands of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Not since winning the EFL Cup in 2008 have Tottenham added to their trophy cabinet, and another chance of silverware has now gone begging for Antonio Conte after his side bowed out of the tournament in the third round at the City Ground.
Despite naming an XI packed full of first-team regulars, Tottenham succumbed to Renan Lodi’s curling strike and Jesse Lingard’s header in a 2-0 defeat, only a few days on from coming up short against Liverpool in the Premier League, but their schedule in the New Year will now look a lot less daunting with no more EFL Cup games to worry about.
Having initially managed to keep pace with Arsenal and Manchester City at the top, Tottenham have fallen off the pace in recent weeks amid their dismal spell of form and have slipped behind Newcastle United to fourth in the rankings, while Manchester United are only three points behind with a game in hand.
Tottenham will enter the World Cup period safe in the knowledge that their Champions League last-16 place has been confirmed, with AC Milan lying in wait in the knockout rounds, but winning just two of their last seven games in all tournaments is an alarming statistic.
The Lilywhites have also conceded first in each of their last seven matches in all competitions and are at risk of going four games without a win at home for the first time since June 2020, but one consolation for Conte is that his side have scored in all of their home encounters so far this term.
Translating their improved Premier League form into a fourth-round EFL Cup appearance did not come to fruition for Leeds, who succumbed to a stunning 85th-minute strike from Wolves’ Boubacar Traore in a 1-0 Molineux defeat to bring the jubilation down a tad.
However, there was nothing that could have quelled the wild celebrations when Crysencio Summerville scored the winning goal in last weekend’s dramatic 4-3 success over Bournemouth, with Jesse Marsch’s side coming back from 3-1 down to clinch a wonderful win.
Summerville made lightning strike twice after also netting a late winner against Liverpool at Anfield, and Leeds are now sitting pretty in 12th in the standings after making it back-to-back wins in the top flight, with a three-point gap separating them from the relegation zone.
Not since the final three matchdays of the 2020-21 season have Leeds won three in a row in the top flight, though, and Marsch must do what no fellow American manager has done before him if Leeds are to produce a North London shock – win a Premier League game against Tottenham.
Tottenham have won three of their four Premier League meetings with Leeds since the Whites earned promotion back to the big time in 2020 – including 3-0 and 2-1 wins at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – and the home crowd will not enjoy the best of Christmases if the under-performing Lilywhites fail to find their groove here.
Tottenham Hotspur Premier League form:
Tottenham Hotspur form (all competitions):
Leeds United Premier League form:
Leeds United form (all competitions):
We say: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Leeds United
It may not be pretty, but with the returns of Kulusevski and Richarlison likely leading Conte to reverting to his tried-and-tested 3-4-3, the stage is set for Tottenham’s rejigged attack to help their sde return to winning ways.
The Lilywhites are very rarely kept at bay in front of their own fans, and while Leeds deserve immense credit for the manner of their wins against Liverpool and Bournemouth, Marsch’s side should ultimately fall short in North London.