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Transfer Rater: Wilfred Ndidi to Arsenal

Football Whispers

Transfer Rater: Vardy to Man United

 By Ben Jacobs

A draw would suit Leicester City at Tottenham

For the second time in four days Leicester City travel to Tottenham Hotspur, but the pair's Premier League encounter will have a totally different feel to it.

Foxes boss Claudio Ranieri and his opposite number Mauricio Pochettino made 15 changes between them for last Sunday's dramatic 2-2 FA Cup third round draw.

Leicester will restore their top scorer Jamie Vardy, if fit, and Riyad Mahrez for Wednesday's encounter, while Tottenham should welcome back Dele Alli -- fresh from penning a new contract -- Harry Kane and Erik Lamela to their starting lineup.

The two clubs' second-string squads put on an enthralling match at the weekend and Leicester will be keen to avenge the contentious late penalty which forced a replay. Nathan Dyer, who conceded it via a dubious handball, is unlikely to start, but could make a cameo off the bench.

The match could well prove pivotal in determining which team qualifies for the Champions League next season. Both finishing in the top four is unlikely but possible.

Leicester currently have a four-point cushion over fourth-placed Spurs and if they can extend that advantage with a victory they will feel confident of finishing above their hosts. Should Leicester do so, they will in all likelihood at worst qualify for the Europa League.

Four days after their thrilling cup clash, Leicester City renew acquaintances with Tottenham.
Four days after their thrilling cup clash, Leicester City renew acquaintances with Tottenham.

Leicester's main aim will simply be to take something from the game. A point would be a superb result. They will also want to end their mini-Premier League scoring drought in a fixture that has an uncanny history of goals.

City haven't scored in the league since their 3-2 victory at Everton on Dec. 19, but they rarely leave North London without finding the back of the net. The last two league meetings between the sides at White Hart Lane have produced 15 goals -- a 4-3 Tottenham win last campaign and a 4-4 draw back in 2004.

Still, considering the offensive shyness in the past three games, Vardy's questionable fitness and the fact that last season's top scorer Leonardo Ulloa has managed just one goal this season, it is a touch surprising to hear Ranieri confirm he won't make any more signings in January.

That means winger Demarai Gray is the only new blood. The 19-year-old has tons of potential, and enjoyed a promising debut at the weekend, but Leicester could still use a target man. QPR's Charlie Austin would be a perfect addition.

One can understand why Ranieri wants to give the current crop of players the chance to see how far they can go this season, but Leicester's best chance of somehow reaching the Champions League is with as much depth as possible. In the absence of another striker it will be interesting to see whether Ranieri sticks to a 4-4-2 formation. This has been Leicester's trademark and has led to a wonderfully reckless brand of counterattacking football.

Yet against Spurs, Ranieri trialed 4-3-3, with Gray and Dyer flanking Ulloa. This may have simply been because Vardy was out injured after minor groin surgery, but perhaps the Italian is intent to start tactically tinkering in the second half of the season.

If Leicester take anything from White Hart Lane they will equal or better equal their points tally from 2014-2015's miracle escape. That would be an astonishing feat -- and one that will warrant more champagne bottles being corked even if the Foxes don't ultimately end up in the top four come May.

Ben Jacobs is ESPN FC's Leicester City blogger. Follow him on Twitter @JacobsBen.


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