Watford (Away)
League Cup Round 5

Wednesday 3rd December 2008


With two Championship sides already through to the semi-finals, Tottenham need to make sure they do not take Watford too lightly in this quarter-final at Vicarage Road. 

The Hornets are currently a club in crisis, but the opportunity to break free of the travails of the bottom of the Championship and the financial issues that beleaguer them will ensure that their players are up for the challenge.

There is a new gaffer in place in the shape of former Chelsea reserve manager and have draw two and won one of their last three matches after a poor run.  The side lies in the relegation zone of the Championship and with money problems off the pitch, with a take-over perhaps in the pipeline for next week, it is the League Cup which will take centre stage tomorrow and the lure of a place in the semi-final up for grabs.  Mimicking the FA Cup last season when a number of Championship clubs got to the semis, Watford will be hoping to reprise old glories by getting to the last four.

For Spurs, having been there last season, they will be hoping to repeat the successes of the last campaign.  But they will face home-grown keeper Scott Loach, who is being given his chance under the new manager ahead of Richard Lee, who is a good shot stopper, but his decision making is sometimes flawed.

With Adrian Marriapa and Jon Harley facing late fitness tests, Jay DeMerit will be the familiar face in the back four.  Darren Ward, who was on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, has returned to his home club after suffering a fractured cheekbone.  This leaves Lloyd Doyley and Leigh Bromby as the only other recognised defenders with much experience at the club.  Doyley is error-prone, while Bromby is a strong central defender who is dangerous at set-pieces and has a bit of pace.  Cedric Avenil is a big old unit and a strong tackler, but may lack pace.  The only other defenders are untried.

In midfield, John Joe O'Toole, John Eustace, Liam Bridcutt and Tommy Smith are the likely four in midfield.  O'Toole has developed a reputation of a dynamic midfielder who shuttles between the boxes and gets his share of goals by popping up in the right penalty area, while Eustace will be forever remembered as the man who was the scorer of "the goal that never came close" in Watford's game against Reading earlier this season.  He is the ball winner and his instructions will be to get in the face of the Tottenham midfield, but his temper sometimes gets the better of him and his distribution is not all it could be.  Smith is a striker who has dropped back in the team structure, now operating as a player who creates and joins in with the attack when Watford are going forward, while I don't know much about Bridcutt other than he is on loan from Chelsea and the manager will know what he is capable of.  Jobi McAnuff, the former Wimbledon and Crystal Palace winger can also operate in midfield with a bit of trickery in his armoury to get wide and put in dangerous crosses for the forwards.  Lee Williamson, a signing from Rotherham United eighteen months ago, is now coming into his own, with some good link-up play and a goal or two to add to his game.

Those forwards will include Grzegorz Rasiak, who is on loan from SCBC and was at Tottenham for a few months before being moved onto the Championship side.  The Pole never really got the opportunity to show if he could replicate the scoring feats he achieved at Derby County, but he is a good header of the ball and has been good enough to play for his country, so should not be taken for granted.  With Ledley King not included, Michael Dawson needs to be aware that he will be relied upon to win the first header.  The other choices up front will be Tamas Priskin and Will Hoskins.  Priskin is a Czech youth international and is a predator in the box, but his work outside the area needs to be stepped up a bit, while Hoskins was the partner of Williamson when Watford bought them from Rotherham, but has had his chances limited since coming to Hertfordshire.  One other player at the club is Ashley Young's brother Lewis, who is hoping to emulate the former Hornet's success.

Spurs will make some changes to rest players and give others a chance to show what they can do, but with tonight's results, it may be suitable to take the game seriously.  King and Woodgate might both be kept back and Jenas and Modric are unlikely to come back into the side after injury.  This means that the defence will be reshuffled again, but they need to put in a cohesive performance and the midfield need to work hard, as Championship teams are used to hard running in this area of the pitch.

I think that Spurs will be given a tough game, but will come through the tie with a good showing ...

PREDICTION : -  Watford  1   Tottenham Hotspur   3

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


WATFORD :  -  - (-); - (-); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Giovani Dos Santos (ankle); Alan Hutton (foot); - (-); 


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Watford   1   Tottenham Hotspur    2      (Half-time score : 0-1)

League Cup Fifth Round
Venue : -  Vicarage Road
Wednesday 3rd December 2008
Kick Off :  7.45 p.m.
Crowd :   16,501
Referee :  Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
Watford kicked off and played towards the Vicarage Road end in the first half.
Weather :  -   Very cold, dry
Teams : - 
Watford :

13  Loach

15  Harley
  5  Bromby
  6  DeMerit (c)  (12  Doyley 58)
23  Mariappa

14  Williamson
35  Jenkins  (26  O'Toole 78)
  7  Bridcutt
11  McAnuff       (22  Hoskins 83)
21  T. Smith

  9  Priskin        

Unused subs: 
16  Lee
20  Bangura
22  Robinson
33  Henderson


Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

32  Assou-Ekotto      
39  Woodgate  (c)
20   Dawson
22  Corluka

  4  Zokora
  8  Jenas
24  O'Hara
  7  Lennon

18  Campbell   (10  Bent  65  )
  9  Pavlyuchenko  

Unused subs: 
21 Sanchez
16  Gunter
  6  Huddlestone
  3  Bale
  5  Bentley
23  Boateng 

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

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  

Priskin 13

Tottenham Hotspur

Pavlyuchenko (p) 45
Bent 76

Cards : -  

McAnuff (foul) 9
Priskin (handball) 46  


Tottenham Hotspur 

Assou-Ekotto (foul)  67


Match Report : -  
This League Cup tie against Watford was one of those games which you are pleased to get out of the way, with the pitch bumpy, the night cold and the team not playing at the top of their form.  Despite creating a lot of chances, the team restricted the scoring to just two of them, but it was enough.

Although Watford started the game the better of the two teams and took advantage of the lack-lustre Tottenham opening, the goal by Tamas Priskin failed to upset Spurs too much.  Having lost possession, Spurs allowed Tommy Smith to take on Michael Dawson on the left wing and pull a ball back into the penalty area, where Priskin received it with his back to goal and two Tottenham players around him.  Jermaine Jenas drifted past him as the Czech turned and Jonathan Woodgate failed to get close to him, allowing him the space to hit a shot with his good foot low inside Gomes post, with the keeper's dive not near enough to stop it going in.

Even before the goal in the 13th minute, Priskin had tested Gomes, who grabbed a low shot to his chest, as the bobbly pitch made passing the ball on the ground difficult.  Straight from the kick off, Watford passed the ball back to a defender and it bounced up even though the ball had been rolling along the floor.  With parts of the pitch turning white before kick-off, the hardening surface made it difficult for players to keep their footing.  Jermaine Jenas lost his feet when McAnuff took them from under him and got a yellow card for the cynical foul.

Tottenham's first chance had come in the 10th minute with Pavlyuchenko lazily prodding a shot way over as a corner dropped in the box to him, but then Spurs were soon a goal behind and Watford had put themselves about by getting in shots on goal and getting in Tottenham's players' faces.  The response by Tottenham would mark out how they might approach the rest of the game.

Zokora fed Lennon on the right and faced by Jon Harley, the winger cut inside him and from inside the penalty box, hit an early shot with the outside of his right foot.  The ball seemed to be arcing into the far corner of the goal, but Scott Loach dived to push the ball wide for a corner with a very good save.  Jenas put in a burst of pace into the box, leaving Watford's defenders unable to tackle him for fear of conceding a penalty, then dinked a cross that Fraizer Campbell headed over.  A couple of times Aaron Lennon had got into similar positions, but his balls in carried too much pace for the forwards to get on the end of.

Loan midfielder Leon Bridcutt from Chelsea had a good start to the game and tried his luck from way out, but a half-block took the sting out of the effort and left Gomes a routine stop to execute.  At the other end, Gomes' opposite number Loach was keeping Tottenham out and Lennon in particular.  His save from Lennon's drive as he raced past Harley, went up in the air and as it came down the keeper got back to grab the ball as Campbell went in for it.  Bromby was with the Spurs striker and it looked as though he might have had a hand or two on him to stop him tapping the ball over the line as it was coming down.

Roman Pavyluchenko almost got Tottenham level in the 44th minute, when the ball zipped off the turf past Bromby and the Russian striker set himself and hit a shot that beat the goalie, but not the crossbar.  As Watford launched the ball upfield, Priskin stopped a promising move by handballing a pass to him, which put him in the clear.  His caution by the ref and the resulting free-kick saw Spurs take the game up the other end and while they worked the ball well on the left, when it came into the area, Jermaine Jenas took charge of possession and as he shifted the ball between his feet, Ross Jenkins's attempt to take it off him resulted in contact with the Tottenham midfielder's leg.  With Phil Dowd nearby, there was only one decision for him to make and he pointed to the spot.  Into injury time at the end of the first half, this would be the last chance of the half.

Up stepped Roman Pavlyuchenko to stroke the ball to Loach's left and although the keeper guessed right, he could not reach the shot along the ground and the ball hit the net to put Spurs level at the break.  While they had a rough start, the score-line was probably a fair reflection of the number of chances in the half.

The second half was lower on thrills, as the home team failed to get forward as regularly and failed to trouble Heurelho Gomes.  They were also hampered when muscle-bound central defender Jay DeMerit pulled something in his groin and they replaced him with Lloyd Doyley, possibly an even worse player.  This made the task of the Tottenham forwards a bit easier,

They made better runs and had as many chances in the second period, with the first 20 minutes being a bit scrappy.  Shots came in and corners were won, but the keepers were not seriously troubled.  It was after 20 minutes that Campbell made way for Darren Bent.  Woodgate got in the way of a Priskin effort and left little power in the shot for Gomes to save and then when Tottenham won a corner, Dawson was alone in moving for the ball as it entered the six-yard box.  He was only accompanied by Mariappa, as other players were all near or far post and his run looked to have been impeded by the Hornets defender's tug on Michael's shirt.

Tottenham were now testing Loach and Jenas (twice) and O'Hara tried their luck from outside the area, but failed to get sufficient power in their shots, then from a corner, Jonathan Woodgate rose highest at a corner and Williamson headed the ball away from the goal-line with 15 minutes left.  It looked as though the goal was coming and so it proved.  Pav held the ball up and as Bridcutt moved in to dispossess him, he only succeeded in diverting the ball right to Bent on the corner of the area.  He took an early shot and the ball was suddenly in the back of the net, as it skidded past Loach at his near post.  It was a goal out of nothing and the sort of goal Spurs could do with more often to turn games in their favour.

Watford's new manager Brendon Rodgers decided to bring on John Joe O'Toole, who is a chunky midfielder with an eye for a shot at goal.  And he did just that after coming on, with a long range shot that Gomes moved smartly to stop.  Lennon fizzed a low cross along the six yard box with no Spurs player on hand to get a touch that would have taken it in and then set up Bent, but his volley lacked venom.  With two minutes left, Bromby threw a long throw in and as the ball was half-cleared, it was Hoskins who was first to the ball and his shot came through a number of players, but Gomes collected safely.  And that was the last serious chance of the match.

It finished with the Spurs fans pre-empting the semi-final draw on Saturday by claiming they were going to Wembley.  Hold on lads !!  We have to beat Manchester United in the semi first !!  With Derby County and Burnley both in there, it will be an interesting last four draw, but there is no reason why it couldn't be our opportunity to go to Wembley again, but if we do draw United, we will have to play better than this over the two legs.  It was a performance that contained enough quality to beat Watford, but we know not all the teams left will be of the same level as Watford.

But for the moment, it is a third semi-final in three years in what is becoming our new favourite competition.





Reaction : -



Not the greatest performance, but one that sees us through to the last four.

Woodgate was palpably at fault for the first goal, but the captain picked up to hold the back four together.  Lennon showed his pace is a potent weapon, but there is still the final ball to improve on, while Pavlyuchenko showed Berbatov type coolness in converting the penalty on the stroke of half-time after just missing a very good chance.

Jenas didn't look fit at the start of the game,  but he picked up the pace of the match and got stronger as the game went on, with O'Hara busy alongside him and Zokora quietly doing an effective job.

It is a shame that we haven't been able to give the youngsters a chance in this competition, but it looks as though this is being taken seriously to be our best route into Europe for 2009-2010.

With only a possible three games to achieve that aim, I just hope that if it does happen, then the team pick up their performances after that, otherwise we could be in Europe, but outside the Premier League.


Winning against Watford is something that Championship teams are finding commonplace.

For Spurs to only win 2-1 was a bit of a poor display.  It was a performance that was reminiscent of the end of last season, when the team didn't look like they were really that interested in putting too much effort in to win the match.

With the cold conditions and the down-at-heel surroundings (a whole stand closed apart from a few dignitaries sitting in it ... what's that all about), the team might not have fancied it, but a professional effort might have won this game before the last quarter of an hour.

There will be colder days and better teams to put away before this particular Spurs team make a name for themselves in the record books.  It may not be fully formed just yet, but they need to begin with the sort of attitude that will make winning a habit and taking on every team with the confidence that our own game will be enough to give them problems.

I am glad we are through, but foresee not much further progress in this Cup if they play like that again.






Other scores this round :
Burnley 2 Arsenal 0 Tuesday
Stoke City 0 Derby County 1 Tuesday
Manchester United 5 Blackburn Rovers 3 Wednesday


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