Leicester keeper Schmeichel

It’s time for England’s favorite domestic cup (no offense to the Capital One Cup) to really start this weekend. The third round of the FA Cup introduces teams from the Premier League and also the League Championship. This historic competition has set the stage for some unbelievable upsets, and some amazing matches, and this year promises to be more of the same. The most enticing match of the “opening” weekend has to be Leicester City’s trip to take on Tottenham on Sunday.

The Foxes are currently in one of their worst runs of their unbelievable season, three straight matches without a win. More cause for concern has to be the fact that in all three of those games, Leicester has failed to score. At their best, Claudio Ranieri’s side can demolish opponents with a ruthless counterattack led by Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, but as of late, that attack has gone missing. To put this three-game run in perspective, before it, no team had been able to keep the Foxes off the scoresheet. Is this a sign that teams have finally figured out Ranieri’s style, or is just a small blip on the radar?

A positive from this poor run of form has to be the Leicester defense. In their last two matches, a typically unimpressive backline has managed to keep two clean sheets, including one against high-flying Manchester City. In the match against the Cityzens, it was Kasper Schmeichel that proved the difference in net. The Danish keeper will have another difficult test against the likes of Harry Kane, Eric Lamela and Deli Alli. The last time these two teams met, Schmeichel and co. were able to keep Spurs to just a goal. Can they continue this impressive run of form in a make-or-break FA Cup match?

The man to watch, as of late, for Tottenham has been summer signing Deli Alli. The 19-year-old midfielder has quickly established himself as a first choice midfielder in Mauricio Pochettino’s squad. Against Everton, the former MK Dons man scored an excellent equalizer that saved a point for Spurs at Goodison Park. This year, Alli has showcased his creativity and skill on the ball and has even earned himself a callup to the English national team. With Christian Eriksen still working his way back to 100 percent, the responsibility to pull the strings behind the attack falls to Alli. In his first FA Cup match for his new club, it will be interesting to see if he can handle this responsibility.

No team has been more difficult to beat at home this season than Tottenham. Other than a shocking defeat to Newcastle in the middle of December, Spurs have been absolutely unbeatable at White Hart Lane. The most impressive result was a 4-1 thrashing of Manchester City at the start of the season. Another stat to look at in those home fixtures is goals allowed. Through ten matches, Spurs have conceded just seven goals (.7 goals/game). You can never really downplay the importance of home field advantage in these cup matches, and I think that it could end up be the deciding factor Sunday.

The FA Cup is always full of surprises but I feel like Spurs are the favorite in this one. Leicester’s impotence in the final third, paired with Tottenham’s stellar home record gives the hosts the edge and after this, the Foxes should only have to worry about the league. Final Score: Tottenham 2-0 Leicester City


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