Premier League preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Leicester City

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Back in late August, the 2015-16 Premier League season was just two weeks old. Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur met at the King Power Stadium on the 22nd day of the month, and no one could have ever dreamt that when they met in the return fixture five months later, they would do so as fellow top-four dwellers in the league table. Alas, with the two side set to meet at White Hart Lane for the second time in four days on Wednesday (Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET, on Live Extra), they will do so with top-four finishes and outside shots at this season’s PL title the main storylines.

Tottenham enter Wednesday’s showdown of top-four hopefuls as winners of three of their last four league games, and having lost just once in the league since the opening day of the season (nine draws in 19 games). Meanwhile, Leicester have endured their worst stretch of the league season thus far, failing to win (or score a goal) in three straight games. Leicester (40 points) currently sit second in the league, two points back of leaders Arsenal, while Spurs (36) are fourth, three points off the pace of third-place Manchester City.

[ MORE: Round 21 TV schedule | JPW’s Premier League picks ]

On the injury front, Spurs will likely be without Mousa Dembele once again, as the ankle injury he suffered on Dec. 26 is expected to keep him out of action for one or two more games. Clinton Njie (knee surgery) remains Spurs’ most notable long-term injury. For Leicester, it’s Jamie Vardy (groin surgery) and no one else. Vardy is said to be closing in on his return to action and hopes to be available on Wednesday.

What they’re saying

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino: “It’s important to recognise that this team never gives up, we always fight and we try to go forward believing we can score. I’m happy we did that (on Sunday). We have a lot of games ahead, but I think we’re in a good position to attack all the competitions.”

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri: “Jamie had a problem for a month, more or less, and he continued to play. Now without the problem is much better. I’ll see if he starts from the beginning and if he is ready to come with me on the bench. Every time he wants to play, I know him.”

Prediction

Sunday’s meeting perfectly exemplified just how important the center back pairing of Toby Aldeweireld and Jan Vertonghen has become to Spurs — without Vertonghen playing next to him, Aldeweireld had his worst game of the season and was mostly at fault for both goals conceded; with his compatriot next to him, he’s been arguably the best defender in the PL this season. With the Belgians back together, and Eric Dier sitting just ahead, it’ll be tough sledding for the Leicester attack, even with Vardy and Riyad Mahrez back in the side. Spurs 2-0 Leicester.