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Rodgers not too bothered by VAR as Leicester City back in Top Four

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Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers is keeping his cool about the Foxes’ decent start to the Premier League season.

The Foxes beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Saturday to move back into the Top Four, four points behind leaders Liverpool.

[ MORE: Match recap | Pochettino reacts ]

Leicester has now beaten Spurs, Bournemouth, and Sheffield United, drawn Wolves and Chelsea, and lost away to Manchester United last week (in a match it was arguably superior to the hosts).

Rodgers loved his team’s day, which was challenged by VAR taking away goals from both sides, but knows the big picture is a big challenge.

“A brilliant team performance,” he said. “Very early days, we have had a tough start. We will get into the New Year and see where we are February, March.”

As for VAR, Rodgers saw an early Leicester goal pulled back for offside, but the system also determined that Heung-Min Son was offside by the finest bit of his rotator cuff before Serge Aurier made it 2-0 to Spurs.

Back to 1-0, Leicester equalized within moments through Ricardo Pereira before James Maddison scored a wonder-strike to win it for the hosts.

“It’s what happens with VAR, you have to get your head round it. It works for you and against you. Worked both ways for us today. … We spoke with the players in pre season about VAR. You have to deal with it, sometimes for you and against you. Have to accept it and move on. It was a very important three points.”

Leicester stun Tottenham, seal dramatic comeback win

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Leicester City beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, as Harry Kane‘s moment of magic was cancelled out by Ricardo Pereira and James Maddison amid plenty of VAR drama.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Both teams had goals disallowed by video technology and Spurs’ Heung-Min Son was called off by a millimeter after Serge Aurier thought he had put them 2-0 up. Moments later the equalizer arrived as Leicester battled back well and Maddison delivered a fine late winner to hand Brendan Rodgers‘ men a magnificent win.

As for Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side are without an away win in the Premier League since January as they once again coughed up a lead.

With the win Leicester momentarily move up to second place in the table on 11 points from their opening six games of the Premier League season, while Spurs have eight points.


3 things we learned

1. Kane’s wizardy overshadowed: It was a goal worthy of winning any game, but it didn’t. And that’s a real shame. Harry Kane somehow scored from lying on the floor to put Tottenham 1-0 up. It was a thing of beauty, and Kane’s composure was supreme. He meant to do it. The way he knocked the ball into the ground was deliberate and although it may not be the most beautiful goal he has scored, it was surely the most impressive.

2. VAR momentum swings: Spurs had the stuffing knocked out of them when Aurier’s goal was ruled out by an extremely marginal offside decision. The momentum swings that VAR provides are brutal, and Leicester suffered from it in the first half. Spurs suffered from it badly in the second half, and maybe because Son was so close to being level it hit them harder. That second Spurs goal being disallowed gave Leicester a huge boost and my word did they make the most of it.

3. Tottenham fade, once again: Spurs haven’t won away in the PL since a last-gasp victory at Fulham in January. Let that sink in. Pochettino’s men have problems away from home, but they have issues wherever they play right now as they continue to cough up leads (see the NLD at Arsenal and the UCL draw at Olympiakos) and put in sloppy second half displays. They should have wrapped up the three points fairly easily in this one, but a sloppy defensive display let Leicester back in the game and they were beaten by a moment of magic. As Kane said in midweek, right now Spurs are making the same mistakes they did when Pochettino first took charge. They aren’t learning, and that is a real worry.

Man of the Match: James Maddison – The difference maker in attack for Leicester, as he created several chances and scored a stunning winning goal. The Englishman is coming of age this season and his decision making in the final third is improving all the time.


Spurs took control of the game early on but failed to carve out clear-cut chances, as Leicester were dangerous on the break as Vardy led the way.

Maddison then got going and curled one effort just wide after a wonderful run and moments later he again danced into the box but was denied. From the resulting corner Leicester thought they had taken the lead, as a shot from distance was spilled by Gazzaniga and Wilfried Ndidi eventually bundled the ball home.

However, VAR was used correctly as Ayoze Perez was in an offside position. A huge let-off for Spurs.

Moussa Sissoko was then booked after a lunging tackle on Maddison, while Spurs wanted a penalty kick as Danny Rose went down in the box but nothing was given.

Soon after Spurs went ahead in incredible fashion, as Heung-min Son played in Kane with a wonderful flick but then the Spurs captain somehow scored after being pushed in the box and falling flat on his face, as he improvized to chop the ball past Kasper Schmeichel.

An amazing moment of genius from Kane gave Tottenham the lead.

Gazzaniga beat away a deflected shot from Perez as Leicester pushed hard to try and go in level at the break, but Spurs had the advantage thanks to Kane’s wizardry.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Spurs sat back and were happy to possess the ball, while Leicester looked for Vardy as early and often as possible on the break.

Gazzaniga denied Vardy after the Leicester star raced free of Jan Vertonghen but the Spurs defender did enough to get a nick on the ball which allowed his goalkeeper to keep Vardy out. Son was then played in but dragged his shot wide of the target as the game opened up in the closing stages.

But just as Tottenham thought they had sealed the win as Aurier’s low drive hit the back of the net, VAR decided Son was offside by the finest of margins. Moments later Leicester were level as Vardy played the ball to the back post and Pereira arrived to slot home the equalizer.

Buoyed by that leveller, Leicester looked more likely to grab a winner as Vardy smashed just wide and then Maddison struck from outside the box to seal all three points for the Foxes to send them second in the table.

Watch Live: Leicester v. Tottenham

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Leicester City host Tottenham Hotspur at the King Power Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a tasty clash between two teams aiming to kick on after decent starts to the season.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Brendan Rodgers‘ Foxes are tipped by many to break into the top six this season and a marquee win against Spurs would go a long way to cementing their status as ‘the best of the rest’ in the PL.

Spurs are looking to bounce back from a midweek collapse in the UEFA Champions League, but Mauricio Pochettino‘s side last won away from home in the Premier League in January. He knows this will not be easy.

In team news Leicester bring Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes into the lineup.

Tottenham start Gazzaniga in goal, with Hugo Lloris welcoming his new child overnight.


LINEUPS

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell, Ndidi, Perez, Tielemans, Maddison, Barnes, Vardy

Premier League Preview: Leicester City v. Tottenham

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  • Leicester City has won 25 points since Brendan Rodgers‘ first match in charge in March (W7 D4 L4). Only Liverpool (43), Man City (37) and Chelsea (27) have picked up more in that period
  • Tottenham Hotspur has won four of their last five Premier League matches against Leicester City, including the last three in a row. Spurs have never won four consecutive top-flight matches against the Foxes. 
  • Jamie Vardy has scored in his last three Premier League matches against Spurs, netting four goals during this run. Meanwhile, Harry Kane has scored 13 goals in 12 matches against Leicester City. 

Matchweek 7 of the 2019-20 Premier League season continues on Saturday morning with a terrific matchup between Leicester City and Tottenham. (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com)

Leicester City lost its first game of the season last week at Man United, with manager Brendan Rodgers criticized post game for setting his side up too defensively when they were almost the favorite coming into the match. Tottenham meanwhile has recovered from a shaky start, won last week, 4-0 over Crystal Palace and is unbeaten in three matches in all competitions.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy both have great goal records against the opponents clubs, which makes this game a must-watch for those who are hoping for a bonanza of goals. With both teams tied on eight points and right in the mix for a top four position, there’s plenty on the line for Saturday’s game at the King Power Stadium.

Injuries/suspensions

Leicester City: OUT – Matthew James (Achilles)

Tottenham: OUT – Giovani Lo Celso (hip), Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE – Juan Foyth (ankle)


Projected lineups

Leicester City: Schmeichel – Pereira, Evans, Söyüncü, Chilwell – Tielemens, Ndidi, Maddison – Perez, Vardy, Gray

Tottenham: Lloris – Aurier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose – Eriksen, Ndombele, Alli – Son, Kane, Lamela


What they’re saying

Brendan Rodgers, on facing Tottenham after a trip to Greece: “It can help (us), but you have to make it happen, that’s important. Hopefully it happens to us here in future, that we have midweek games in Europe, and then Premier League games. It’s not easy, with all the travelling and the games, but they will bring a very, very top team. They have robust players, a good squad, where they can interchange and swap players, but we’ve had a great week’s training. We’ll finish our preparation off tomorrow and we’ll be ready.”

Mauricio Pochettino, on facing Leicester City: “They are a very good team. After winning the Premier League, they have rebuilt the team. Today’s it’s a different squad, new mentality, new manager and a great manager like Brendan. That is why it’s going to be tough.

“At the moment it’s so early to talk about which teams are going to be (in the top four). But of course, the Leicester squad is so good with a great manager, for sure they will be in a good position at the end of the season. But at the moment it’s so early to talk about being a contender for top four or top six.”


Prediction

This is one that you could really see going either way. Leicester City seems to be very strong under Brendan Rodgers and may even battle for the top six this season, while Tottenham’s attack seems on point right now. Defensively however, it’s been another story. We think both sides will share the spoils in a back and forth tactical battle.

Leicester City 2-2 Tottenham

Premier League most underrated XI

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On Twitter, we asked Premier League fans to submit their choice for most underrated player in the English top flight right now. There were a host of fascinating answers, with plenty of different teams represented.

Tottenham and Liverpool players appeared a lot, not surprising given they reached the Champions League final but have just a handful of true superstars on the roster, with Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino preferring to put together a squad that plays as a greater whole than the sum of its parts.

So, with that in mind, we thought we should take it one step further and put together a full-blown starting XI of underrated Premier League players.

While putting these together, obviously being just five matches, prior seasons are of course taken into account, but this season’s early performances are also heavily weighed. Behold, our most underrated players all together in one squad. How well would these lineups perform in the league?

Our Premier League Underrated XI’s

Kyle Bonn: [ ]

Kasper Schmeichel

Ricardo PereiraJoel MatipWilly BolyLucas Digne

Declan Rice — Ruben Neves —

— Emiliano Buendia — James MaddisonHeung-Min Son

Roberto Firmino —

Nicholas Mendola: [ ]

Bernd Leno

Aaron Wan-Bissaka — Willy Boly — Tyrone Mings — Ricardo Pereira —

Harry WinksFabinho

— Heung-Min Son — James Maddison — Felipe Anderson

Callum Wilson

Daniel Karell: [ ]

Angus Gunn

Matt DohertyMaya YoshidaYerry MinaPatrick Van Aanholt

Todd CantwellManuel LanziniJack GrealishRyan Fraser

— Callum Wilson — Raul Jimenez —

The highlights

Heung-Min Son was probably the most often mentioned name in our Twitter question, and so he earns a spot on two of the lineups. A number of Liverpool players also cropped up, and Bonn responded with the inclusion of do-it-all striker Roberto Firmino and defender Joel Matip, who often finds himself in Virgil Van Dijk‘s shadow but has risen from injury substitute to regular starter.

Also appearing twice are Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson, Wolves center-back Willy Boly, Leicester City midfielder James Maddison, and Foxes full-back Ricardo Peirera. Otherwise, the writers all went in their own directions!

Jack Grealish is mentioned on Karrell’s list, and he has already proven a divisive topic amongst our writers. Mendola included Reds midfielder Fabinho while also singing the praises of West Ham attacker Felipe Anderson who is doing his best to make up for the departure of Marko Arnautovic. The Hammers also appear on Karrell’s lineup with Manuel Lanzini, who owns two assists on the young season. Many folks may still be learning Emiliano Buendia’s name, but the young Argentine has been the brains behind Teemu Pukki‘s breakout season at the head of the Norwich attack.

Manchester United full-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka is mentioned, although is he really underrated after moving for $60 million this summer? Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves could lay claim to the label as the best player outside the Premier League top six clubs, although Declan Rice might claim he’s not even the best midfielder. Who is a bang-on starter for your most underrated Premier League squad?