By Claire Bloomfield
LONDON (Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur take on Premier League champions Leicester City at White Hart Lane on Saturday as genuine title contenders, says the London club’s former captain Ledley King.
Having gone toe-to-toe with the Foxes last season before finishing third, Spurs are unbeaten in the league this term and sit fifth, just one point behind leaders Manchester City.
“Everyone wanted to see how Spurs would bounce back after the end of last season and I think they’ve shown they are a team that have to be taken seriously as title contenders,” King told Reuters.
“I’ve been very impressed with them so far this season. Even when the team haven’t played to their best they’ve still managed to find a way to get a result and that’s what you need to do if you want to be a team that tries to win the league.”
By contrast, Leicester have struggled to repeat the form that won them the title for the first time in their history, losing four of their nine league games so far, one more than in the entire 2015-16 campaign.
Former England international King, whose career was interrupted and eventually finished by recurring knee injuries, expects Spurs to ignore any temptation to see Saturday’s match as a chance to settle a score.
“The team won’t be looking at this game as an opportunity to get one over on them, said the 36-year-old, who is now an ambassador for the club.
“They’ll be very focussed on the agenda and that is winning games no matter who they are playing against. “It’s going to be a difficult game. Leicester don’t need much of the ball but they’re dangerous on the counter so it’s not a game we can take lightly.”
King does not believe either side will be affected by their respective Champions League matches which follow next week.
“On Saturday the players will be focussed on the 90 minutes in front of them,” he said. “Obviously involvement in the Champions League is great for both clubs but this is the bread and butter.
“If you want the opportunity to play in those big games then you’ve got to do well in the league so it’s important their focus is on this game.”
King, who retired from football in July 2012 having made 268 appearances for the London club, admitted watching Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham team leaves him envious at times.
“This is a Spurs side I would have loved to play in, for sure. They’re very defensively solid but this team has a great work ethic,” he said.
“When you’re a defender and you see the players in front of you working hard to make sure you don’t concede, it makes everyone’s job easier.”
(Reporting by Claire Bloomfield, editing by Simon Cambers)