Yet to lose but outside top 4 amid tight race

Eric Dier is still smarting over losing out to Leicester in last season's title race and knows that beating the champions is important for Spurs to maintain another challenge.
Eric Dier is still smarting over losing out to Leicester in last season's title race and knows that beating the champions is important for Spurs to maintain another challenge.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Tottenham will kick off at home to champions Leicester today as the Premier League's only remaining unbeaten team and just a single point behind leaders Manchester City.

Yet they will do so outside the Champions League qualification slots in fifth place and without a victory in their last four fixtures.

Those statistics support claims that this season's race for the title could end up being one of the tightest in living memory, after surprise packages Leicester ended up winning it by 10 points last term.

Tottenham were the team who chased the Foxes the hardest but Mauricio Pochettino's men fell away sharply in the last four games and had to settle for third place.

Leicester always seemed to have their noses in front and that was the case when the two sides met at White Hart Lane, with Robert Huth's header enough for a 1-0 win.

Claudio Ranieri's players have found life much tougher now they are champions but enjoyed the luxury of no midweek match, as a much-changed Spurs were eliminated from the League Cup 2-1 at Liverpool on Tuesday.

Defensive midfielder Eric Dier, who captained the north London club at Anfield, is likely to be played in central defence should Toby Alderweireld require extra time to recover from a leg injury.

"We've now got a massive game against Leicester, which will mean a lot to everyone for different reasons so everyone is now fully focused on that," the England international said.

"I feel like we were in a title race with them last season... It's an important game for us."

Dier has now racked up 98 appearances for Tottenham since joining from Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon in August 2014.

"I didn't know until now that I was getting so close to 100 appearances for Tottenham so that'll be another big moment for me," he said. "I couldn't have imagined two years ago that I'd be in this position.

"It's fantastic for me but I want to build on that and I want to keep improving my appearances and maybe get the armband a couple more times as well."

Spurs forward Harry Kane has had a week of training as he steps up his rehabilitation from an ankle injury but is unlikely to feature today.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2016, with the headline 'Yet to lose but outside top 4 amid tight race'. Print Edition | Subscribe