Mourinho’s tactics had been under fresh scrutiny since Tottenham’s draw against Crystal Palace and Liverpool’s defeat in stoppage time, but the coach defended his style on the eve of this match, insisting he was not tied to counterattack style.
Tottenham had a chance to prove it against Leicester – but they spoiled it, as the Foxes doomed Mourinho’s team to back-to-back defeats and surpass them in the Premier League table.
Like Tottenham, Brendan Rodgers is happy to concede possession and play on the counter, so the quiet first half was largely determined by the strange scene of both teams trying to avoid possession.
Harry Kane tested Casper Schmeichel with a skewed free kick, but Tottenham looked flat, slow and lacking in ideas against a Leicester side who were determined to avoid falling into Mourinho’s trap – as they did in a 3–0 defeat here in July.
Jimmy Vardy’s penalty kick in the first half gave the visitors the lead after a negligent foul on James Justin of Serge Aurier, which left Spurs needing to open up and attack their opponents – arguably the first time in the league since day one. The defeat of Everton.
If this was a test of their comfort with the front foot, the home owners failed as Leicester beat Tottenham Hotspur in their match.
Rodgers’ team sat back and defended firmly – as Ken, Hong Min Son, Gareth Bale and Lucas Moura couldn’t find a way to beat them – while hitting the hosts at the intermission.
Fardy made the match safe, and forced Toby Alderworld to score an own goal within an hour, shortly after James Madison disqualified his shot by the VAR referee for an offside break.
The defeat will add to the scrutiny of Mourinho’s playing style, which Tottenham’s opponents seem to have already achieved.
It also leaves their title challenge – which Mourinho has always underestimated – hanging by a thread and they will be anxious ahead of a tough celebratory period that includes Wednesday’s UEFA Cup quarter-finals in Stoke and matches against Wolves, Fulham and Leeds by January 2. .
At what point should we start worrying about Bill?
The Welshman was a passenger after being introduced in the first half, as Tottenham trailed 1-0.
On his first spell, it was exactly the kind of flat performance Belle transformed through solo brilliance, but he seems far from making that kind of impact now.
The 31-year-old showed one flash of old quality, dropping inside and foul by Wilfred Ndidi, but fired the resulting free kick high.
Mourinho tempered expectations by insisting that Bale was a different player to the player who left Tottenham in 2013, which is fair, but the question is whether Bale 2.0 is currently a better option for a game-changer than Carlos Vinicius or Dele Alli, who left. Of the total 20 players on the team on the day of the match.
Leicester’s goal was the result of a distinct moment of neglect from Aourir. The Ivorians have taken steps in the right direction this season with a series of impressive defensive performances, including Wednesday’s defeat at Anfield.
But there were indications of a big mistake on the post, including the erratic performance against Palace last Sunday, when he missed the free-kick that the hosts equaled.
Aurier definitely gave a reminder that he’s still a liability because of a stupid mistake on Justin in a halftime hit. The full-back was slipping past the goal and there was a limited danger when Aourier hit his back. Referee Craig Pawson had no choice but to award the penalty kick after checking the stadium screen.
It was Aourier’s fourth penalty kick in the Premier League since his debut in 2017, with David Luiz conceding only five (five) in the same period.
And that’s far from the only mistake he made in the afternoon as he often squandered possession and looked lost in defense.
Mourinho had seen enough after an hour, and replaced Aurier with Harry Winx and moved to Moussa Sissoko as a right-back. Matt Doherty can now expect to run to the side.