Watford (Away)
Premier League

Saturday 28th October 2006

With a run stretching back six games, the poor start to the season looks a long way away.  In stark contrast, Watford have yet to win a match, but have drawn five as Adie Boothroyd tries to take the next step for the club after getting promotion ... staying in the Premier League.  There are a lot of Watford fans who are hoping that the side will click soon, as they are losing out on two points with every draw they achieve, thus slipping behind the other sides.

But the chance to play against a side who will try and play a bit of football, Watford might fancy themsleves.

In the goalkeeping department, there is the experience of Alec Chamberlain, who has been around for a long time and on loan from Manchester United Ben Foster.  The latter is a good keeper, who benefited from a loan at Vicarage Road last season paid dividends and he wanted to go back this season.  A good shot stopper, the inclusion of Mido (three goals in two games) might give some aerial presence to test the keeper.  Chamberlain is an old school keeper, but with age (he is 42), he lacks the speed of movement to get to shots he used to.

The defence has been fairly tight, with thirteen goals conceded in nine games.  American Jay De Merit made his own way over here by starting off at non-league Northwood and he is a strong central defender, a description that could equally be applied to Clarke Carlisle, Malky Mackay and Danny Shittu.  All have a big size, a defensive mentality and a fair bit of experience.  This leaves former Leicester City man Jordan Stewart, Lloyd Doyley and former Derby County and Charlton Athletic Spurs supporter Chris Powell to contest the full back positions.  Powell is vastly experienced and would probably get picked against Spurs, although Lennon might fancy his chances against Powell.  Stewart is a pacy full-back, but he does get the wrong side of his marker and get caught tackling across them, rather than side on.  Doyley has been at Watford since a kid and is a favourite, but has failed to score for the club in all the games he has played in and sometimes makes gaffes which cost the club.  French youngster  Toumani Diagouraga has been on the fringes of the side, but is not expected to play.

Wigan Athletic let Damien Francis go after he failed to make the impact they thought he would, so the Addicks loss is the Hornets gain.  He is a strong presence in midfield and also is good in the air from set-pieces.  Anthony MacNamee has been at the club since a youngster and he has been in the side since 2000, but has not moved forward as the club might have wished.  Captain Gavin Mahon has come on well under Boothroyd and is a ball-winner in midfield, who has added a few different skills to his repertoire.  He likes to break forward and to pass up to the forwards, so he has become a bit more of an all-round player.  Rising star Alhassan Bangura has stolen some headlines over the last year with some pacy displays and Matthew Spring is a former Luton midfielder, who has a good range of passing and an eye for setting players up, but he also has a fine shot from long range and set-pieces.   Former Norwich and Wigan wide man Albert Jarrett was signed to beef up the squad, but has been sparsely used, although he is a strong runner with the ball if he does play.

As Watford will be without their star striker Marlon King, the goal threat is lessened a bit, but Darius Henderson can be a powerful forward on his day.  Unfortunately, he seems to have been finding the Premiership a bit harder than the Championship and is finding that the defenders will only need an inch to nick the ball away from him.  The other shining light in the Hornets side is young Ashley Young, who is a tricky, wriggly runner who can come from deep and has scored a couple of goals, as well as has set up a couple of goals.  He will be the key man, with former Spurs reserve Claude Seanla and young Slovakian Tamas Priskin being ones for the future rather than thrust into the Premiership spotlight.  The return of Tommy Smith from Derby County was hailed as a good signing, but he has not scored yet.  However, he has the ability to create a goal out of nothing, as he will twist and turn his marker and knows where the goal is.  The other option the home side will have up front is  Hameur Bouazza, a 21 year old Frenchmanm who has one Premiership goal to his name.

With the team trying to play some football, unless you listen to West Ham, who claimed that Watford tried to shut them out from the start, the Hornets might be there for the taking.  As Spurs are just starting to hit their stride, with the goals starting to go in, it could be a game that has come at the right time for Tottenham.  I expect Mido and Keane to start, with Huddlestone continuing in midfield to anchor the side and to spring attacks from passes from him.  Lennon might get a bit more of a run-out and he will create some chances, which we need to put away.  Ledley will probably not be risked again, with Brugge waiting in midweek, so Davenport and Dawson are most likely to start, as Gardner has only just come back from injury, but will be on the bench. 

I think Watford will try and keep things tight after being taken apart by Arsenal the other week, but Spurs should have enough about them to come out of the game with a win, albeit a narrow one.

PREDICTION : -  Watford   0     Tottenham Hotspur   1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


WATFORD :  Marlon King (knee); Clark Carlisle (thigh); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Teemu Tainio (hernia); Steed Malbranque (hernia); Didier Zokora (malaria); Young-Pyo Lee (ankle); - (-); Paul Stalteri (knee); - (-)


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Internet :
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Watford   0   Tottenham Hotspur    0      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : -  Vicarage Road
Saturday 28th October 2006
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   19,660
Referee :  Uriah Rennie (Sheffield)
Weather :  -  Dry, mild
Teams : - 
Watford :



Mahon (c)


Unused subs

Tottenham Hotspur :


King (c)

Ghaly (Murphy 68)

Keane (Defoe 77)

Unused subs


Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  


Tottenham Hotspur


Cards : -  

Demerit (foul) 48
Bouazza (foul) 49
Mahon (foul) 87


Tottenham Hotspur 

Jenas (foul) 82
Ghaly (foul)


Match Report : -  
For a 0-0 draw, this match certainly did not lack goalmouth action, but once more Tottenham failed to take advantage away from home and failed to hit the net again.

From 15 seconds in, when Michael Dawson had to stretch up a leg to clear as Darius Henderson closed in to score from Tommy Smith's cross and then managed to divert Ashley Young's corner away from the danger area.  The frenetic Watford start almost lead to a goal when Damien Francis struck a shot that Pascal Chimbonda deflected for a corner.  From it Danny Shittu headed goalwards from Demerit's knock back and luckily for Spurs, it was straight at Paul Robinson.

The string of corners was finally broken when Tottenham broke up the other end to earn one of their own, when Tom Huddlestone moved forward to hit a shot that was blocked by Francis.  Jermaine Jenas' corner was missed by both King and Berbatov.

The scoring should have been opened in the eighth minute when Shittu hooked a ball that looked like it was going wide across the six yard box and Tommy Smith met it on the volley six yards out with the goal yawning in front of him, but he skied it over the bar to nearly everyone's disbelief.  With the game being an open one, with the play switching from end to end, Spurs soon had an opening, when Huddlestone picked out Lennon on the left and he cut inside, beating two players, to hit a low shot that Ben Foster kept out with his feet.  It was the first of four stops that denied Lennon; one two minutes later in the same way; another, in the 35th minute was pushed over the bar and with fifteen minutes to go, Foster knocked a shot down into the ground and it bounced over the top for a corner.

With another cluster of corners, Watford pressured the Tottenham goal and Francis had a shot from outside the box that made Robbo dive to stop and with just five minutes left before the break, Watford scored a goal through Ashley Young, but he was pulled up by a linesman's flag.  On later viewing, it looked as though he had been onside on TV.

The second half started with a couple of bookings for Watford as their players tried to stop Spurs opening the half with some pressure.  However, when Ghaly flighted a delicate chip through to Keane, having gone round the keeper, his dink towards goal was somehow knocked over his own bar by the heel of Jay Demerit.  It was another heel that almost saw Francis' shot creep past Robinson, but the ball went just the right side of the post as far as the England Number One was concerned.

The speed of Tottenham's breaks was troubling Watford and when a home corner was cleared, Berbatov passed on to Ghaly, who played in Keane.  The Irishman's shot was curling in, but Foster beat it out.  Murphy came on for Ghaly and Lennon moved out right, where he looked more at ease, while Berbatov was lacking any leeway by the referee, who gave almost every free-kick against him when he challenged Shittu.

Defoe replaced the disappointing Keane just before Jenas and Mahon got added tot he referee's book.   Jenas' free-kick picked out Ledley King, who stole in for a free header, but he only glanced it without getting a proper contact on the ball and the chance went wide.

A final shot by Defoe from very long range went wide and Robbo had to sprint from his line to beat Henderson to a through ball.  the final whistle blew soon after, leaving both sides with one point, but thinking of the other two they could have had.

For Watford, it was a sixth draw and for Tottenham another two dropped against a team down at the bottom fo the table and it is games like this one that they need to step up their performances for.  Playing as we are, it is unlikely that we will not be beating many of the top half of the table, so points against the lower table sides must not be passed up.

With Chelsea up next in the league, it will be fascinating to see how Spurs perform against a side who expect three points against us.




Reaction : -



With Watford there for the taking, Spurs dropped two points, which could have shifted us further up the table.  We had to weather the early storm, as the home side went for the jugular to try and get a goal ahead, but their attack looked weak and when the chances did come, they looked less likely than Tottenham to hit the net.

Spurs played slightly within themselves and this I find a bit worrying for a team who want to push on up the table.  Yes, there have been a lot of games recently, but there have also been a lot of players playing, so it could be argued that the team rotation is not working if fresh players are unable to step up to the plate to take on the responsibility of taking the team up the league.

Our lack of urgency, away from home especially, is another thing that concerns me.  Teams like Watford will lap up the odd point or three we hand them, as they are unlikely to find anyone else who will sit back and try and soak up the pressure, without making any attacking threat other than the counter-attack.  Yes, this can be effective, but with Lennon just back from injury and Berbatov surely not the right choice to play in this match against Danny Shittu, the chances of a goal from our forwards was minimal, as Keano is woefully out of touch.

Mido and Defoe would have been a better combination for this game and Berbatov and Keane for the European tie, but the midfield still need to support the forwards better; both in terms of supply and of getting numbers up with them.

I am not sure what the game-plan was for this match, but it failed to bring home three points and having had a poor start, that is what is needed away from home.




Other scores this weekend :
Arsenal 1 Everton 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 0 Manchester United 4 Saturday
Fulham 0 Wigan Athletic 1 Saturday
Liverpool 3 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 0 Charlton Athletic 0 Saturday
Portsmouth 3 Reading 1 Saturday
Sheffield United 0 Chelsea 2 Saturday
West Ham United 2 Blackburn Rovers 1 Sunday
Manchester City 1 Middlesbrough 0 Monday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 10 8 1 1 23 5 25 +18
2 Chelsea 10 8 1 1 17 5 25 +12
3 Bolton Wanderers 10 6 2 2 10 8 20 +2
4 Portsmouth 10 6 1 3 16 6 19 +10
5 Arsenal 9 5 3 1 16 5 18 +11
6 Everton 10 4 5 1 16 9 17 +7
7 Aston Villa 10 3 6 1 12 9 15 +3
8 Liverpool 10 4 2 4 12 12 14 0
9 Fulham 10 3 4 3 11 15 13 -4
10 Reading 10 4 1 5 10 15 13 -5
11 Blackburn Rovers 10 3 3 4 10 13 12 -3
12 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 10 3 3 4 6 10 12 -4
13 Manchester City 10 3 3 4 7 13 12 -6
14 Wigan Athletic 9 3 2 4 12 12 11 0
15 Middlesbrough 10 3 2 5 9 14 11 -5
16 West Ham United 10 2 2 6 8 14 8 -6
17 Newcastle United 10 2 2 6 7 13 8 -6
18 Watford 10 0 6 4 7 13 6 -6
19 Sheffield United 10 1 3 6 4 14 6 -10
20 Charlton Athletic 10 1 2 7 6 15 5 -9


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