Thursday’s 2-1 victory over Brighton and Saturday’s trip to Norwich are the type of games that Tottenham should be winning if they are to atone for their defeat to Chelsea and resurrect their slim Champions League hopes.
Jose Mourinho’s impact so far in North London has been mixed, with Spurs recording more league wins this season in seven games than they had in 12 under Mauricio Pochettino, but Spurs have also floundered in their two most high-profile games under the Special One, against Manchester United and Chelsea respectively.
The Mou’s troops have tended to hit the front early in those games where they have been successful – establishing comfortable leads by the hour mark against West Ham, Bournemouth and Burnley – and they will look to do something similar at Carrow Road on Saturday.
Norwich, meanwhile, have also made a habit of taking early leads recently, but have made an even worse habit of throwing them away. The Canaries led in their three fixtures prior to Christmas but only collected a single point from them, while the 1-0 loss away to Villa on Thursday may have been a fatal blow to their survival hopes against their fellow relegation strugglers.
Norwich’s form has been worrying and a chasm is beginning to grow between themselves and safety. It already looks bleak for the promoted side, but it’s about to get that bit worse before the year’s end.
Leicester’s hopes of reclaiming the Premier League crown they first won in 2016 always appeared faint, but they suffered seemingly irreparable setbacks over the festive period, including Thursday’s 4-0 hammering by Liverpool.
Until they seal Champions League qualification, there will also be an element of worry among the Leicester faithful that one of the chasing pack will reel them in before the season’s end.
Aside from the dropped points, there have been some below-par performances from the surprise packages – notably against Everton and Watford – and there is a sense that their hot early-season form is tapering off.
A potentially tricky away date with a hopelessly unpredictable West Ham outfit could do further damage to the Foxes’ season.
West Ham’s squad is far too good to languish in the bottom half of the Premier League – even if results are proving otherwise, as the 2-1 defeat away to Crystal Palace proves. Manuel Pellegrini’s future surely depends on how well they perform very, very early in the second half of the season as they are now just a point ahead of Aston Villa in the drop zone.
A win against the upstarts from the Midlands could kick-start a revival.
The Hammers are without a home win against Leicester since December 2014. They will be looking to right that particular record on Saturday.
*All odds correct at time of posting