Football: Spurs' superior squad strength tells in cup win

Tottenham's Harry Kane applauding fans after the game against Leicester City.
Tottenham's Harry Kane applauding fans after the game against Leicester City. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • The FA Cup is not top of either manager's list of priorities this season, but when it came down to it on Wednesday, Mauricio Pochettino was willing and able to stake more than Claudio Ranieri.

The contrast was shown by two England forwards: Harry Kane was sent on to try to make the game safe for Tottenham Hotspur at 1-0 up, whereas Jamie Vardy was kept in reserve until Leicester City were 0-2 down.

Ultimately, Spurs' strength in depth helped them to finally overcome Leicester 2-0 in their third meeting in 11 days.

South Korea forward Son Heung Min scored the first goal late in the first half and created the second for Nacer Chadli to set up a fourth-round tie away to Colchester United.

"This was a good opportunity for Nacer and Son to show that they can score so we are very pleased," said Pochettino, who insisted he is in no rush to buy players in the current transfer window.

"We can improve, yes, and if we find the right player, then okay. But if not, I am very happy with the squad that we have."

Ranieri will hope his Leicester team have bigger fish to fry as they continue their extraordinary Premier League campaign, but it is now one win in seven matches in all competitions.

His team selection on Wednesday was designed to help with the tiredness that has begun to take hold after the congested Christmas fixture programme, but here was a harsh reminder of the greater squad strength of the bigger, richer clubs.

For Ranieri and Leicester, it was nine changes to the starting XI from Saturday's 1-1 draw away to Aston Villa, with Wes Morgan, N'Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and Vardy among those dropping to the bench. For Pochettino and Tottenham, it was eight changes to the line-up for their 4-1 victory over Sunderland, with Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Dele Alli and Kane among the substitutes.

There were plenty of familiar faces on display, but also some newer ones.

There was a third appearance for Ben Chilwell, the 19-year-old left back, and likewise for Demarai Gray, the winger who recently joined from Birmingham City.

Gokhan Inler, formerly of Udinese, Inter Milan and Napoli, made a rare appearance in central midfield, having found first-team opportunities unexpectedly scarce since his arrival in the east Midlands last summer.

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2016, with the headline 'Spurs' superior squad strength tells in cup win'. Print Edition | Subscribe