Spurs' strikers in confidence crisis
Lame attack denies Tottenham their revenge
(Vincent Janssen 44-pen)
LEICESTER CITY 1
(Ahmed Musa 48)
History repeated itself. Groundhog Day came to White Hart Lane.
Tottenham Hotspur wanted revenge for last season's title collapse, but succumbed to fatigue.
They still cannot finish off those pesky Foxes.
Without Harry Kane, they are just not able in attack.
Spurs are suffering a striking crisis of confidence. Unless they fix it fast, their title aspirations will falter.
The 1-1 draw against Leicester City yesterday preserved the hosts' unbeaten record in the English Premier League, but Mauricio Pochettino's flaw in the final third remains.
Neither Vincent Janssen nor Son Heung Min are ready, or even equipped, to lead Tottenham's line.
TOOTHLESS TOTTENHAM: Son Heung Min (No. 7) and Vincent Janssen (No. 9) are not the answers to Spurs' scoring problems. PHOTO: REUTERS
Too many chances were squandered and too much possession wasted as White Hart Lane got edgy.
And, as the nerves jangled, fatigue crept in - the same tiredness that derailed Spurs' title charge last season.
Familiarity will breed contempt with Pochettino.
The Tottenham manager must be privately furious. Spurs desperately need Kane to prop them up again.
Indeed, most of the match felt like a tale of tepid strikers.
Claudio Ranieri found himself with a different dilemma in his preparations, considering his Ballon d'Or nominee Jamie Vardy had recently struggled in Shinji Okazaki's shadow.
The Japanese forward's recent form deserved a stay in the first team, so Ranieri went with both, leaving Islam Slimani out.
Neither Leicester striker covered himself with glory. Okazaki headed over from close range after half an hour, but Vardy's blunder moments later defined a striker without a goal since Sept 10.
On a rare counter-attack, Daniel Drinkwater released Ahmed Musa, who slipped a fine pass to the hare-like Vardy.
In one fluid, exhilarating move, Vardy was through on goal, but his first touch betrayed his recent decline - the ball slipped between his boots and the chance was squandered.
Vardy can't escape his own hangover.
Janssen, on the other hand, needed to prove he could lead the line.
With Son wisely shifted to the left, striking duties were handed to the Dutchman.
Despite his industry, however, Janssen had the aura of an underwhelming apprentice up to - and including - his first Premier League goal.
Make no mistake, Janssen got lucky. In a congested box in the 43rd minute, he attempted to maintain possession while holding off the hulking Robert Huth over his shoulder.
He achieved neither. The ball was running away from him, taking his balance with it. The most tenuous of tugs from Huth was enough to fool the referee, but Janssen was already on his way down.
Relieved, the striker buried the spot-kick, his second in a week. But Tottenham didn't spend £17 million ($28.9m) for a penalty taker.
Spurs are a fine side to watch, always aesthetic in possession, but the absence of a cutting edge left them vulnerable.
The Foxes' equaliser came as no surprise.
In the 48th minute, a clumsy header from Victor Wanyama, such a reliable enforcer ordinarily, allowed Vardy to finally utilise his blistering pace.
He exploded through the right channel before sliding an exquisite pass across the box for Musa to smash home.
White Hart Lane was silenced. But the uncertainty gradually gave way to unrest, as Spurs struggled to break down the resolute Foxes.
These clubs finished first and third in the standings last season, but there was little indication of their achievements in a disjointed second half that descended into misplaced passes, late tackles and a number of petty yellow cards.
Leicester, eager to hold on to their first away point of the season, were content not to chase a second goal. Tottenham patently couldn't.
The artists on show forgot their paintbrushes. Dele Alli hit the bar in the first half, but drifted to the game's periphery. Riyad Mahrez was so poor he was substituted in the second half after another anonymous display.
The bench surely beckons for last season's Players' Player of the Year.
In the dying moments, Jan Vertonghen sent a header crashing against the bar, but Leicester deserved to hang on.
Tottenham, meanwhile, are looking for salvation in the treatment room.
Kane cannot return quickly enough.
- Sunderland 1 Arsenal 4
- Man United 0 Burnley 0
- West Brom 0 Man City 4
- Middlesbrough 2 Bournemouth 0
- Watford 1 Hull 0
- TOTTENHAM: Hugo Lloris, Kyle Walker, Eric Dier, Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose, Victor Wanyama (Harry Winks 86), Mousa Dembele, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli (Kevin Nkoudou 82), Son Heung Min, Vincent Janssen
- LEICESTER: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Simpson, Robert Huth, Wes Morgan, Christian Fuchs, Riyad Mahrez (Marc Albrighton 71), Danny Drinkwater, Andy King, Ahmed Musa (Jeffrey Schlupp 67), Shinji Okazaki (Leonardo Ulloa 77), Jamie Vardy