Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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  • Leicester has never won the opening three matches of a PL season
  • Harry Kane scored a hat trick against the Foxes last season
  • Gokhan Inler is expected to make his Leicester debut

Leicester City is the surprise story of the season so far, as the team many pegged for relegation has won it’s opening two matches, scoring six goals in the process.

On Saturday at the King Power Stadium, the Foxes will look to make it three straight wins when they host Tottenham Hotspur (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

[ RELATED: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks — Week 3 ]

Claudio Ranieri’s appointment as Leicester boss wasn’t the most applauded decision of the summer, but the seasoned Italian manager has his team off to a flying start. Riyad Mahrez has been extremely impressive through two matches, leading a free-flowing attack that that has Foxes’ supporters cheering for more.

Summer signing Shinji Okazaki scored his first Leicester goal last weekend, and another new face is set to join the party as Gokhan Inler is expected to start for Ranieri’s side against Tottenham. Inler has experience captaining Switzerland at a World Cup and playing in the Champions League for Napoli, so his presence in the midfield will be massive for the Foxes.

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Tottenham’s start to the season has been the complete opposite of Leicester’s, losing 1-0 on opening day to Manchester United before drawing 2-2 with Stoke City. Spurs were up 2-0 at halftime in front of a home crowd at White Hart Lane against the Potters, but conceded two late goals to leave with just a point.

Spurs will need to shore up their defense, as Leicester has scored a league-high six goals through two matches. With high hopes heading into the season, going three games without a win would not sit well in north London.

What they’re saying

Spurs’ boss Mauricio Pochettino on improving the defense: “People will speak about how we need offensive players but we need to be more consistent because we conceded a lot of goals last season. It wasn’t our problem to score, it was conceding goals, and we need to improve that this season.”

Claudio Ranieri on building Leicester’s reputation: “We want to build our foundation and with a big foundation you can then build the first floor, second floor and everything. If we start to build maybe in three or four years a lot of players will want to come to Leicester. Why not?”

Prediction

Leicester has been great and Tottenham has been poor, but I think this has the makings of a very close match. Spurs will be eager to get their first win of the season, but a veteran manager like Ranieri knows a draw for his Foxes will still be a great result. Leicester City 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur.

Liverpool goes 19 points clear with win at West Ham

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If Liverpool already had an ironclad grip on the Premier League table coming into Wednesday’s match against West Ham United, it now has an almost unbreakable one.

The Reds got goals from Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain bracketing halftime to skate past the Hammers 2-0 at London Stadium to go 19 points clear at the top and deepen the hosts’ relegation worries.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

West Ham looked solid on the break, but they made too many individual errors to overcome against such a dominant side. It could have been even more, but Salah hit the post with 12 minutes to go and West Ham continued to wilt as the clock continued to tick down. The Hammers’ closest effort was a near own-goal from Trent Alexander-Arnold who luckily struck his own post in the second half.

The Reds no longer have their game in hand, but it certainly feels like they no longer require it. With 14 matches remaining, Liverpool has only dropped a staggering two points all year and certainly feels poised to put forth a historic campaign, whether it be unbeaten, a record point total, or both.


Three things we learned

1. This Liverpool squad is bigger than any one player

So far Liverpool has navigated this season brilliantly despite a number of injuries and fitness concerns to various players. Alisson has missed time, numerous defenders such as Joel Matip and Alexander-Arnold have spent time on the sidelines, and the midfield has been shuffled constantly. Yet the attacking trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah remained largely untouched outside of the occasional rest. So without Mane, it was interesting to see how the Reds approached a game against a clearly inferior opponent in the absence of their most consistent attacker.

It didn’t matter. Divock Origi filled in expertly, Salah put in a solid 90 minute shift, Andy Robertson played well with an increased attacking role down the left, and Mane was hardly missed. This Liverpool team is something else, stacked to the gills with top talent.

2. West Ham can snatch enough games to stay up

West Ham didn’t fare too well against a suffocating Liverpool press, but they showed enough of a threat to be a problem for worse sides. At least, enough to steal some games, earning enough points in the process. It won’t be comfortable and they have a lot of individual errors to sort out, but they should be resilient enough to see out the growing injury list and remain in the Premier League.

3. The Premier League has yet to adjust to Jurgen Klopp

The Liverpool boss has yet to face a significant challenge this season. His project at Liverpool has blossomed to fruition, and so far everyone is powerless to stop it. Each week the German tweaks his game plan, but overall the Reds have done the same thing all season and have yet to face a sustained test. After the game, Oxlade-Chamberlain said that at halftime they “weren’t satisfied” with the first 45 minutes of play despite a 1-0 lead, which goes to show the perfection Klopp expects week-in and week-out.  The Premier League will need to adjust to Klopp’s tactics soon, or else this Liverpool side can truly build into a sustained dynasty.

Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah


West Ham stayed plucky on the break to start, with Manuel Lanzini coming close with a long-ball opportunity over the top but Alisson snuffed it out. Andy Robertson came closest for Liverpool in the opening half-hour as he was threaded through by Mohamed Salah, but he scuffed it just wide from a tight angle under pressure from Lukasz Fabianski. Minutes later Robertson was there again, but his cross for Origi was just too driven, inches out of reach of the Dutch striker.

Liverpool found its breakthrough in the 35th minute as Divock Origi was felled right on the doorstep by Issa Diop, a clumsy last-ditch challenge that survived a VAR check. Salah stepped up to the penalty spot and buried the chance to put the Reds in front.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

After halftime, West Ham looked bright, but it all came undone quickly as a Hammers corner kick came to nothing and Liverpool made them pay for the ensuing scramble. Salah found an opening and fed a delightful outside-of-the-boot pass to a streaking Oxlade-Chamberlain down the middle. The Liverpool midfielder shrugged off a weak Lanzini challenge and stayed true to put Liverpool 2-0 up.

The Reds nearly had a third past the hour mark on a low drive from Origi, but Fabianski got down to his left to stop the effort. They were then let off at the back a few minutes later when Declan Rice picked up a bad turnover in the Liverpool defensive third and marauded forward, unleashing a curler that Alisson parried and then Trent Alexander-Arnold looked to put behind for a corner, instead smacking the post on what was nearly an ugly own-goal.

Mohamed Salah struck the left post with a first-timer on 78 minutes as Liverpool continued to assert its dominance.

Wasteful Man City advances to Carabao Cup final past Man United

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Manchester United won the battle, but Manchester City won the war.

Looking to overcome a 3-1 first-leg deficit, Manchester United got a fabulous first-half goal from Nemanja Matic but that was all, earning a 1-0 victory in the game but failing to keep Man City from advancing to the Carabao Cup final via a 3-2 aggregate score. Man City was dreadful in front of net in a game they likely could have scored three or more goals, but after Matic was sent off with 15 minutes remaining, it wasn’t to be for the Red Devils.

The hosts had a big chance early on as Sergio Aguero got through behind the United defense and headed on frame inside the opening 10 minutes, but David De Gea made a spectacular diving save to keep out the Premier League’s second-leading scorer. Aguero tested de Gea again in the 17th minute with a shot destined for the top-right corner, but the Spaniard got up to his left this time for another fingertip save.

Manchester United struck first in the 35th minute as Nemanja Matic delivered a venomous volley off a free-kick, burying the chance on the Red Devils’ first shot of the game. The set-piece delivery from Fred came from the left flank and swung out, coming off the head of the first man Bernardo Silva and falling right to Matic near the top of the box who leg-whipped the ball off the inside of the post.

City had the equalizer in the back of the net before halftime as Raheem Sterling latched onto a Kevin De Bruyne cross, but Sterling and Aguero behind him were both offside by a significant margin and the flag correctly went up to nullify the strike.

After halftime, Sterling again had a massive opportunity but couldn’t cash in on the hour mark. Charging on the break, Sterling got past Victor Lindelof and could have taken an early shot, but with de Gea charging and closing him down, Sterling panicked and failed to pinch off an effort. Instead, with de Gea crawling along the ground and defenders scrambling back, there was no room to shoot and eventually his effort was much too late and skied over the bar.

Manchester United looked compact after the halftime break, often packing in and preventing Man City shots from good areas just by sheer numbers behind the ball. De Gea was forced into another good save as he kept out a vicious long-distance Kyle Walker effort, punching it away against his body diving to the right. Somehow, City again came up empty in the 73rd minute after forcing a bad Harry Maguire turnover, but David Silva didn’t take the blatant wide-open chance, instead passing to Ilkay Gundogan who was closed down by two scrambling defenders and unable to get a shot off.

While it seemed United was right in the match, they fell down to 10 men after Nemanja Matic – already on a yellow card – chopped down Gundogan on the break and earned himself an early shower. Referee Kevin Friend had clearly already spoken to Harry Maguire about Matic, saying he was on his last warning. It was all City from there, and while Aguero couldn’t finish their best chance on 84 minutes thanks to the offside flag, they saw out the match to advance on aggregate.

Man City fails to score for the first time in 26 games across all competitions, but despite that they still advance to take on Aston Villa at Wembley, hoping to earn its fourth League Cup title in the last five years.

Liverpool youngster Elliott scores bicycle kick goal in reserve match

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Harvey Elliott came to Liverpool via Fulham as highly rated as youngsters come. He’s got plenty of maturing still to do both on and off the field, but his talent is undoubtable.

That was on display as Liverpool’s reserve squad took on Wolverhampton Wanderers in a Premier League 2 fixture. Just after halftime, Elliott leveled the score at 2-2 with a stunning bicycle kick at the near post on a corner. The skill it took to essentially catch up to the ball as it floated parallel past him was fabulous, and his strike was true as it caught the Wolves goalkeeper off guard, unable to catch up to the pace of the shot.

The 16-year-old has been a regular for the Liverpool first-team squad in Cup matches but has then taken the field for the U-23 squad to get him some playing time, and clearly it’s done wonders.

Elliott came over from Fulham this past summer for an undisclosed fee given his age. He had already become the youngest player to appear in a Premier League game, coming on for the Whites in a game in May against Wolves with relegation looming.

Watch Live: West Ham United v. Liverpool

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After weeks of having a game in hand on Premier League title chasers Manchester City and Leicester City, the full extent of Liverpool’s lead will be revealed when the Reds visit West Ham United on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]

Once the full-time whistle blows at the London Stadium, all 20 PL sides will have played 24 games. Ahead of kickoff, Jurgen Klopp‘s side leads second-place Man City by a whopping 16 points.

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West Ham, meanwhile, sit 17th in the table and are only clear of the relegation zone by way of goal differential. That’s something that could very easily change between now and 5 p.m. ET.