For a welcome change, I’m handing over to an opposition fan today, for their preview of Saturday’s game for United at Spurs. Declan writes for the fansite Spurs For Life and I’m indebted to Andy who runs the site for offering me this piece ahead of our respective teams’ meeting at a much changed White Hart Lane. For me, this match is a free hit – Spurs are major challengers for honours, and it’d be understandable if we went down (fighting, of course) to defeat. However, there is no arrogance or hubris in this piece, as you’ll see from the score prediction (which I for one would happily accept). Anyway, now it’s over to Declan…
I’d like to extend the warmest welcome to Leeds United to our new stadium, for our 98th encounter and the first match between Tottenham and Leeds since 2013!
This clash comes at a crucial point of the season for us, flagging after topping the table. At this stage, the league is wide open in terms of the title race.
But also there is a fierce battle to grasp some kind of foothold in mid-table. Just by stringing a few good results together, Leeds could well catch up with the top six, and our misery could be compounded.
The last match between the clubs was a 2-1 win for Leeds who dumped Spurs out of the FA Cup fourth round thanks to Luke Varney and Ross McCormack’s goals.
In what was a disappointing performance by Spurs, there was a flash of brilliance by Gareth Bale. The Welshman won’t be making a return against Leeds, though this was a piece of skill that stuck in the memory.
Sam Byram came flying out to challenge for what looked like a certain tackle, but Bale ran onto his lengthy first touch, completing a roulette before skinning Byram. His cross came to nothing, sadly.
Ex-Leeds academy star Jack Clarke is now in the North London lily-white strip. He’s yet to make a real impression at the club; the winger has been restricted to just two Europa League cameos.
It is unlikely that Clarke will be able to return to face his former club, utilised in the Premier League 2 for now.
Mourinho has a perfect record against Bielsa so far, albeit only in the four meetings in La Liga. Again, the two haven’t met in a competitive match since 2013.
I am always intrigued to watch Patrick Bamford play. He is an intelligent player, but not just in terms of football. He turned down Harvard, and after successive loans away from Chelsea, chose to break away from London to play for Middlesbrough. And then he went on to Leeds where he has scored 36 goals in 87 appearances.
He’s the top goal scorer thus far for The Whites and the 19th all-time highest scorer for the club. With Tottenham’s defensive play, Bamford will have to cut out his chances wisely.
However, Spurs have had a frustratingly bad habit of conceding late in matches recently. We’ve actually set a record for doing this year.
Tottenham have dropped nine points in 2020-21 with goals conceded in the last 10 minutes of matches, the most of any Premier League club (Opta).
But I reckon Spurs’ defensive frailty is matched by Leeds’. They were the first team to concede 30 goals this season, in the 6-2 defeat against Manchester United.
Despite shipping so many goals, it is at least in the name of attacking football. Bielsa has stuck by his methods.
“The best way to win is to play well. So nobody can say I put style over results,” he said. At Spurs we have a manager who also sticks to his guns, but with much less appealing football.
The clash of styles on Saturday will likely be a high press against a low block and counter. Then again, Mourinho has been known to adapt his tactics accordingly to what challenges he faces.
On paper, this looks like an exciting battle between the clubs who have rarely played each other lately, and with their managers’ conflicting styles, should prove to be an exciting encounter.
PREDICTION: Tottenham 1-1 Leeds United. (Bamford to score a late equaliser after Spurs sit back to defend another 1-0 lead!