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Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Leicester City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Sunday's Premier League meeting between Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City.

Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to maintain the pressure on the Premier League's top two when they play host to Leicester City on Sunday afternoon.

The Lilywhites remain in firm title contention thanks to three top-flight wins on the spin, leaving them five points adrift of Manchester City and Liverpool with a little over three months of the season to go.

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham's Son Heung-min celebrates with teammates after against Newcastle on February 2, 2019© Reuters

Since losing 1-0 at home to Manchester United on January 13 to leave their league campaign somewhat in limbo, Tottenham have defeated Fulham, Watford and Newcastle United - at the same time that City and Liverpool were dropping points - to drag themselves right back into the title mix.

All three of those victories have come via late goals - Harry Winks scoring in the 93rd minute against Fulham, Son Heung-min and Fernando Llorente in the final 10 minutes against Watford, and Son again seven minutes from time against Newcastle United.

Had it been any other side, it would be easy to say that Spurs are showing all the hallmarks of champions. Yet recent history points towards Mauricio Pochettino's men fading away and ending the season without any silverware to show for their efforts.

That looks even more likely now following a terrible few days at the end of January that saw them knocked out of the EFL Cup by Chelsea and the FA Cup by Crystal Palace. Pochettino claimed that lifting one of those cups would have been good for his ego, but it is the Premier League and Champions League that he is really after.

In that case, this next month really is massive for the Lilywhites as they face the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal in the top flight, as well as Bundesliga pacesetters Borussia Dortmund over two legs in the last 16 of the Champions League.

A return of nine wins in 11 league matches is a run of form that has to be sustained over the remaining 13 matches of the season, something that many of Tottenham's critics - and there are many of them - will feel is simply not sustainable.

Pochettino knows the importance of going all out for victories, having seen his side salvage an additional seven points in the final 10 minutes of their last three matches. It has now been 29 league games since Spurs last played out a draw - only Portsmouth, between March 1928 and February 1929 (38 games) have gone on a longer run.

With Man City, who have already played a game more, not in action until later on Sunday, Pochettino's men can really increase the pressure on the champions. Liverpool have a winnable home match against Bournemouth 24 hours beforehand, but all Spurs can do is continue winning matches and hope for more slip-ups from their rivals to ensure that this three-way title race goes the distance.

Recent form in Premier League: LWLWWW
Recent form (all competitions): LWLLWW

Leicester City

Claude Puel gesticulates during the Premier League game between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City on January 19, 2019© Reuters

For a manager who never seems to be more than one bad result away from being on the brink of dismissal, Claude Puel can perhaps consider himself fortunate to still be in a job following a run of four defeats and a draw in his side's last five outings.

One of those defeats came at League Two side Newport County in round three of the FA Cup when fielding a far-from-full-strength starting lineup, having also done so in the EFL Cup quarter-final loss to Manchester City a month earlier.

Supporters did not take kindly to those losses, since followed up by defeats to Southampton, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Man United, plus a draw with Liverpool at Anfield.

That point on Merseyside makes Leicester's inconsistency all the more baffling. Back-to-back wins over Chelsea and Man City in December preceded a home loss to strugglers Cardiff City, suggesting that the Foxes are better suited for games against the big boys.

Leicester are one of just three non 'big six' sides to have won away against such a team this season - their 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge - along with Wolves and Crystal Palace.

Victory at Stamford Bridge is City's only away-day triumph in London in 11 attempts, though, having lost six and drawn four of the previous 10 in the Premier League.

Four defeats in their previous five overall is as many as Puel's side suffered in their previous 15 combined, and now they have to stop the rot if they are to avoid a mixed campaign ending on a low note.

Puel has done well to integrate a number of youngsters into the first team, but City have slipped into the bottom half of the table and need to offer a response when they travel to Wembley on Sunday.

Recent form in Premier League: LWLLDL
Recent form (all competitions): WLLLDL

Team News

Son Heung-min celebrates with Fernando Llorente after scoring Tottenham Hotspur's equalising goal against Watford in the Premier League on January 30, 2019.© Reuters

Key attacking pair Dele Alli and Harry Kane appear to be ahead of schedule on their respective returns from hamstring and ankle injuries, but neither will be fit to play a part this weekend.

Llorente was tasked with leading the line in the first four games of Kane's absence and scored a couple of goals, but Son's return from international duty has seen Pochettino go with the South Korean through the middle.

Son has had a hand in 14 goals in his last 11 starts in the Premier League for Tottenham, scoring 10 and assisting four.

Pochettino will have the midweek meeting with Dortmund in mind when selecting his XI to face Leicester, which could mean some rotation, with Ben Davies the only other confirmed absentee.

In terms of the visitors, Daniel Amartey and Marc Albrighton are both on the sidelines and will miss out on inclusion here.

Puel brought in Youri Tielemans on loan last week and will no doubt be keen to hand the young midfielder his debut on Sunday, which will lead to a reshuffle in attacking midfield.

Assuming James Maddison retains his place in the side, Demarai Gray - who has one goal and no assists in his last 17 matches - may well be the fall guy.

Jamie Vardy is a guaranteed starter, meanwhile, and he has been directly involved in seven goals in his last seven league appearances against Tottenham, netting three goals in his last two against them.

Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Trippier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Rose; Sissoko, Winks; Lamela, Eriksen, Lucas; Son

Leicester City possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Pereira, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell; Mendy, Ndidi; Maddison, Tielemans, Barnes; Vardy

Head To Head

Tottenham have won three of their last four top-flight encounters with Leicester, including the last two, but they have not won three in a row in this fixture since February 1987.

City failed to score in the reverse meeting - a 2-0 loss at the King Power Stadium in early December - and they are now aiming to avoid going consecutive games without netting against Spurs for the first time since 2000.

All in all, the hosts have won 55 and drawn 21 of the 111 matches between the two sides since their first encounter in January 1914.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Leicester City

If Tottenham are to continue their unexpected title challenge, they require all three points from this meeting with 2016 champions Leicester. The Lilywhites are in good form in the Premier League, in stark contrast to their opponents, and they should make it four wins in a row this weekend.

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Who will win Sunday's Premier League meeting between Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City?

Tottenham Hotspur
Leicester City
Tottenham Hotspur
Leicester City
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