|COMPETITION||FA Cup Fourth Round|
|DATE||Friday 27th January 2012|
Having been drawn against another side form the Football League, it will most probably be a shadow side out against Watford form the Championship, as Harry Redknapp enjoys some respite from his court case and gets back into his "office".
Sean Dyche has had a tough time since taking over after Malky Mackay left to manage Cardiff City. Players leaving and little money to replace them, has seen him have to rely on loan players, youngsters and cheap purchases. But he ahs done alright being helped by the young talents of Marvin Sordell, the England Under-21 striker,
Keeping them above the drop zone has been Dyche's priority and at the moment they are a few places off that, but the side has been prone to defensive mistakes and with only 28 goals in 27 games, the defence cannot afford to be that generous. Losing Danny Graham to Swansea City in the summer stung the Hornets hard and Chris Iwelumo has not set the league alight with his goal-scoring. In fact, loanee Michael Kightly, who played against Spurs recently on his return to Wolves, was one of the top scorers, along with former Spurs, Mark Yeates. Yeates' move from Middlesbrough has proved a good one for club and player, as he leads the assists this season for Watford and his play was always based around his quick feet and quick thought. Let's hope he has a good match, but not too much of a good one !! The Horns could play Joe Garner up front, but his physical presence would be counterbalanced by a lack of pace, but he might shake Daws and Bassong up a bit in aerial battles.
Goalkeeper Scott Loach was once an England Under-21 regular and was tipped for a move to the Premier League, including interest from Spurs, but he seems to have lost a bit of confidence and has been sent off this season, interrupting his run in the team. The defence contains experience in former Birmingham City central defender Martin Taylor and Lloyd Doyley, along with recent signing Nyron Nosworthy from Sunderland. However, there is a lack of pace there and I expect Aaron Lennon to feature and he could enjoy himself on the right wing. Adrian Mariappa is attracting interest from Newcastle United, but Watford want to hold onto him, so it will be interesting to see who he copes with a Premier League attack, with Pav and JD expected to start up front for Tottenham.
In midfield, the experienced battler John Eustace can pop up witha goal from in the box or from distance, while Troy Deeney is an attacking midfielder or forward, who started off at Aston Villa, but dropped down to play with Walsall before joining Watford. Joining from Dundee in the summer Craig Forsyth is an energetic midfielder who likes to get forward too.
Many of the other players in and around the squad are youngsters whose names are new to me, so it will be a test for them, but with nothing to lose, they will give it a go and being an unknown quantity, they might surprise Spurs, but I think Tottenham will have enough quality in the side to go through to the Fifth round.
|PREDICTION||Watford 1 Tottenham Hotspur 3|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
WATFORD TEAM NEWS :
Watford have no injury problems approaching the tie with Spurs.
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs have doubts over Scott Parker (hamstring), Younes Kaboul (groin) and Gareth Bale (thigh).
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
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Watford 0 (0)
FA Cup Fourth Round
Friday 27th January 2012
Venue : Vicarage Road
Tottenham Hotspur 1 (1)
Kick off 19:30
|None||van der Vaart 42|
Hodson (foul) 89
|Crowd : 15,384||Weather : Chilly, dry|
|Referee : Chris Foy (Lancashire)||Assistant Referees : Mr. S. Beck; Mr. J. Collin|
|Fourth Official : Peter Walton|
|Watford kicked off and played towards the Vicarage Road end in the first half.|
|Watford :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
11 van der Vaart
|Manager : Sean Dyche||Manager : Harry Redknapp|
|Sponsor : Burrda Sports||Shirt sponsor : Investec|
|Kit Supplier : Burrda Sports||Kit Supplier : Puma|
For all the hoo-ha surrounding the Manchester City game last week, this match saw a stronger than expected Spurs side take to the field and put in a less than satisfactory performance in gaining a slim and somewhat lucky 1-0 win over a feisty Watford team ay Vicarage Road.
Despite having a huge amount of possession more than Watford for large portions of this match and having passed the ball what seemed like a thousand times, there was uncharacteristic sloppiness in the team's play and individuals failed to put in the performance that was required. Scott Parker got caught in possession too often, Luka Modric's passing was way off his usual accuracy and Emmanuel Adebayor put in a disinterested effort, which I hope is not going to typify the rest of his loan spell with us. It seemed as though it was a mere formality for the team that Harry selected to roll over the Championship side, but they played very well and could have won, had it not been for a lack of a quality finisher ... and a bit of luck.
Spurs had that and went through, but there will not be such a forgiving outcome in the Premier League if they turn in more showings like this. While looking the part in stroking the ball about in the early stages, Watford's effort in denying space and time hurried Tottenham into mistakes. The pitch had been watered and with rugby club Saracens playing on it too, it was not the greatest playing surface, but Spurs didn't seem to have much trouble passing the ball around, with the effort being put in contributing to the pressure on their own goal. Young winger Sean Murray got a low shot in from the right hand corner of the penalty area and Cudicini got down to it, but did not gather it in, allowing Marvin Sordell, the England Under-21 striker a sniff of the rebound and luckily for Spurs he could only stab it wide.
Even before this, Watford had got through the left side of the Tottenham defence, with Sean Dyche seemingly having decided that was the weak link, by getting his side to pump high balls down that channel to expose Danny Rose's lack of height and defensive nous. Sordell had cut inside in the sixth minute to hit a soft shot straight at Cudicini as he got to the edge of the box. The playing surface didn't help the Spurs players, who seemed to have trouble keeping their footing, especially Kaboul, which resulted in a couple of breaks for Watford, with Deeney hitting a low ball into the near post from the right wing that Sordell beat Dawson to, but could not get enough of his foot around to get a shot on target. Then, centrally placed, Prince Buaben hit a first time shot from behind a defender that Cudicini was probably unsighted for and was probably grateful that it fizzed wide of his post by about a foot.
Watford were dictating the game and it was in midfield where they were winning the tactical battle, as Modric failed to break through and Scott Parker was not being allowed time on the ball. Without Bale and Lennon, there was no width to the team and with two up front and van der Vaart just behind them, it left the midfield three with a lot to do. And they were finding it tough, with play condensed down the middle of the pitch, resulting in little room to manoeuvre. When Spurs did pass the ball around, they looked comfortable, but Watford did their best to make things uncomfortable, with some late challenges after the ball had gone (particularly on Rose), some tugging and puling back on Modric and a lot of pushing ... all which brought great applause from Watford boss Dyche. Another case of the team reflecting the manager.
However, it was no excuse, as Spurs should be used to this now and should be able to cope, but Watford's effort was giving them problems and they failed to hit the target with a Hodson volley, Garner mis-kicked in the box and then from a Dawson defensive header, Eustace hit a thunderous volley about four yards wide.
It took nearly thirty minutes for Tottenham to get a shot on target, when VDV set up Jermain Defoe to hit a shot straight at Scott Loach that was easily saved. But at the other end, Dawson was throwing himself in the way of shots, Buaben shot weakly wide when in on goal and Kaboul was a strong presence that kept Watford at bay. Walker was using his pace to try and add some width to the play and when a Watford move broke down, he brought the ball out to the half-way lien, before cutting inside and knocking the ball to Rafael van der Vaart, who had advanced just beyond the centre circle. With the Watford defence backing off, Rafa went forward and getting the ball onto his favoured left foot, he let go a shot from about 28 yards out. He took it early, but Loach would have had a clear sight of it and when the ball bounced in front of him, he looked to have had it covered. But somehow, his hands went under the ball's bounce and it ended up in the net as it skidded off the surface.
It was an unlikely goal, given the way the game had gone, but getting shots on target often pay dividends. It was Loach's error that allowed it to get past him, but without taking on the shot and getting it on target. Thus the chants of "One Shot, We've only had one shot" chants from the Vicarage Road end where the Spurs fans were.
Having looked unbalanced in midfield, Luka Modric was substituted and replaced by Aaron Lennon. It turned out that Modric had been ill during the week, but nobody had told Harry Redknapp. With the change offering a bit more width, it looked a good move, but it didn't really pan out that way. Spurs still failed to move the ball quickly enough nor with enough invention on the final ball. This left Watford the opportunity to push forward and put pressure on the Spurs goal again.
For some reason, Spurs seemed intent on trying to give the game away. Conceding possession again, when Cudicini put Dawson under pressure from a short goal-kick and Livermore was then robbed of the ball, Murray got in on the left side of the box and curled a shot that Cudicini just about got a fingernail to and touched the ball onto the post, with Troy Deeney shooting wide from the rebound with the goal in front of him. Danny Rose did a good job of putting him off.
After a few shots from the home side that went off target, Rafa had a soft shot from a free-kick saved and then Walker tested Loach, who saved his header at the far post. Spurs created a good opportunity when Lennon got down the left and pulled the ball back to van der Vaart, who hit s first time shot that rattled the crossbar and bounced back into play. Deeney had another shot wide, when he should really have hit the goal, then Cudicini had to turn a looping centre from Hodson over the bar for a corner and from it, former Spur (and on as a substitute) Mark Yeates played the ball into the danger area and with Garner dragging Cudicini over, Eustace rose at the far post to head the ball against the outside of the post. Our friendly ref Chris Foy would have allowed the goal to stand if it had gone in, despite it being as obvious a foul as that when Kaboul was dragged to the floor at Stoke when the same official was in charge. I suppose you could be pleased that at least he is consistent.
Buaben made Cudicini save a shot, while Garner twice missed with shots (one exiting the ground over the stand !)and then Spurs had a real let-off. Yeates' free-kick from the left flew across goal and was headed down, but the ball dropped for Nyron Nosworthy, who poked a shot at goal from six yards out, forcing Carlo to save with his feet. The ball ran to the much hyped Sordell, who shot and his effort was charged down by the Spurs defence. it was a chance that should really have been converted.
With their next forward move, the ball was pulled back low form the right and Yeates hit a first time shot that was unknowingly blocked by Dawson's face. Spurs did try to break the Watford attacks up and broke away with van der Vaart on the left, who played in Scott Parker and his shot brought a block by Loach at his near post.
There was only one more chance for the Hornets in added time, when a 30 yard free-kick was taken by Yeates, but his shot, lacked power and was comfortably saved under the bar by Cudicini.
So, not the greatest win Spurs have recorded, but one which takes them into the draw for the next round and a replay was avoided too, so that will help keep the team fresh. There was a lack of fluidity and maybe that was because there was not the outlet of Bale to run the ball at the opposition, but Tottenham will need to learn how to play without the Welshman if he is injured at some time in the future.
Apparently Watford had 25 shots to Tottenham's six. It is usually the other way round for Spurs, with lots of shots and only a few goals, but they go through to the last 16. Perhaps not in the most convincing or deserving manner, but it was another win, another clean sheet and is not the reaction Harry might have wanted to losing at Manchester City, but a win's a win.
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|What you thought|
|Other scores this round :|
|Bolton Wanderers||2||Swansea City||1||Saturday|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||-||Newcastle United||-||Saturday|
|Derby County||0||Stoke City||2||Saturday|
|Hull City||0||Crawley Town||1||Saturday|
|Leicester City||2||Swindon Town||0||Saturday|
|Queens Park Rangers||0||Chelsea||1||Saturday|
|Sheffield United||0||Birmingham City||4||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||1||Norwich City||2||Saturday|
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