COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Monday 28th December 2015
VENUE Vicarage Road
Preview not prepared.
PREDICTION Watford    1         Tottenham Hotspur    1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.

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South Africa 
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Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

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BBC London - click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.

Watford  1 (1)                                                                       
Premier League
Monday 28th December 2015
Vicarage Road
Tottenham Hotspur  2 (1)

Kick off 15:00
Ighalo 40m 56s Lamela 16m 48s
Son  88m 56s
Britos (foul on Tripper) 52
Jurado (foul on Alli)  58
Deeney (dissent)  63
Ighalo (arm in face)  65

Ake (foul on Lamela)  62

Alli (foul on Capoue)  6 
Alderweireld (foul on Capoue) 81




Crowd :   20,730 Weather :  Mild
Referee :  Anthony Taylor (Greater Manchester) Assistant Referees :  Mr. J. Brooks; Mr. S. Burt
Fourth Official :  Craig Pawson -
Watford kicked off and played towards the Vicarage Road end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 5 minutes.
Watford : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  Heurelho GOMES

21  Ikechi ANYA  (  8  Valon BEHRAMI  46)
  Etienne CAPOUE
  3  Miguel BRITOS       (  5  Sebastian PRODL 60)

  7  Jose Manuel JURADO       (  2  Allan NYOM 68)
23  Ben WATSON
  Nathan AKE      
22  Almen ABDI  (  8  Valon BEHRAMI  46)

24  Odian IGHALO      
  9  Troy DEENEY (c)     

Unused subs: 
34  Giedrius ARLAUSKIS
25  Jose HOLEBAS
17  Adlene GUEDIOURA
32  Alessandro DIAMANTI

    1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

15  Eric DIER
  4  Toby ALDERWEIRELD     

16  Kieran TRIPPIER
19  Mousa DEMBELE  (23  Christian ERIKSEN  45)
28  Tom CARROLL  (  7  Heung-Min SON  68  )
  3  Danny ROSE

11  Erik LAMELA 
20  Dele ALLI       (22  Nacer CHADLI  81)

10  Harry KANE

Unused subs: 
13  Michel VORM
33  Ben DAVIES
  8  Ryan MASON

Manager :  Quique Sanchez Flores Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor : Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  Puma Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

Mauricio Pochettino rang the Christmas changes, but still put out a team that saw off the ten men of Watford with a late late goal by substitute Heung-Min Son to give Spurs three points and third place in the Premier League.

Mousa Dembele started to give Spurs a boost in midfield, but Tom Carroll began with Christian Eriksen on the bench, as Kyle Walker was replaced by Kieran Trippier and on the other side of the back four Danny Rose was back to take the place of Ben Davies.  The one thing that shone through was the team's confidence in their ability since the defeat by Newcastle United.  There was a marked assurance on the ball, with Dele Alli putting in a good shift and Carroll moving the ball well, as Lamela again showed his increasing self-belief and importance to the side.  The major change was that Eric Dier was dropped deep to play alongside the two central defenders to add to the defence and to cope with Deeney and Ighalo, who have struck up a valuable goal-scoring partnership.  It was unusual for Poch to switch his tactics, but, apart from the goal, it was of use in thwarting the twin strikers and moving Rose and Trippier a bit further forward paid off ... especially at the end of the match.

There were a few talking points in the match, most of which came in the second half, but the referee got them all correct, despite protestations to the contrary.  The first half was virtually straight forward for all concerned.

Tottenham's goal certainly was, with Dele Alli winning the ball on halfway and being fouled in the process, much like last week at Southampton.  The ball ricocheted sideways to Erik Lamela in the centre circle and with the pitch opening up in front of him, he ran the ball to the edge of the penalty box.  There were options for him to pass, but as Britos faced him, he shaped to drag the ball, but passed it through the defender's legs and past a static Gomes in goal to find the bottom left corner of the keeper's net.  It was a well finished effort by a player surging with confidence.  The pressing won the ball and Erik looked assured in taking the ball on and netting it with good technique.

Lamela almost got a second soon after when Kane won the ball on halfway as Alli played it forward, showing great strength on the ball to take on Cathcart on the left wing and then the presence of mind to pull the ball back square for the Argentine winger, who got a shot at goal, but did not catch it right and the ball squirted wide of Gomes' left hand post.  Prior to this Watford's only threat had been a couple of long range speculative shots from Etienne Capoue, which ended up well wide of the target.  On 25 minutes, the top scorer Ighalo had a chance on the half-turn, when he volleyed Nathan Ake's low cross two yards wide at the near post.  Alli and Kane went wide with shots before Hugo was called into action with a low save to Jurado's 30 yarder, which went low to his left, but his dive did not involve a great degree of difficulty.

With Trippier given free rein to go forward, his runs up the right wing were producing a string of crosses into the box, which were troubling Watford.  None immediately amounted to shots on goal, but Gomes had to be alert and in his desire to do well against his old team, he tended to come too readily for corners, almost landing his team with some of the problems of his early tenure at the Lane.

With four minutes of normal playing time in the first half, Watford bull-dozed their way through for an equaliser, which looked unlikely for most of the half.  A deep ball from the right was headed back across the box to the penalty spot by Deeney, with his strike partner Ighalo waiting for it.  As Dier jumped to head it the Hornets forward was all arms and legs, as the ball dropped, squeezed under the Spurs man's feet and allowed Ighalo to move onto it just on the edge of the six yard box.  Lloris was a little rooted to his line, which gave the opportunity for the striker to poke the ball under him to level things up at 1-1.  It was a strong piece of play and demonstrated how he has got 30 goals in 2015.

As the half ended, Spurs had a Lamela corner  cleared straight to Kieran Tripper, who took it down and struck a shot that dipped just wide from 25 yards out.  The half-time interval would be an important part of the game, with both managers giving their team instructions about how the second half should be played, but it did not pan out the way either of them probably expected.  Flores took off Anya and brought on former West Ham midfielder Valon Berhami, a player who was consistently linked with Tottenham, but Watford snapped him up.  Luckily for us !

Britos became the first Watford player to go into the book five minutes into the second half when he cleared out Trippier from behind and protested his innocence like he didn't know what had happened.  Spurs were soon in the Watford box again, with Eriksen's pass to Kane being hit at goal from the right side of goal, but Gomes flopped on it to save.  Jurado saw yellow for fouling Dele Alli before Trippier's cross from the right bounced in the area and Kane got to it ahead of Cathcart at the near post, but he was too far ahead of the goal to get it on target.

A Spurs throw in front of the benches seemed innocuous enough, but as it bounced in front of Lamela, Ake crunched into his thigh with his studs and took him with his other leg too.  Deeney later protested that the response of the Spurs players pressured the referee in his decision to pull out the red card, but he took his time before doing so to Ake's bemusement and to the Watford crowd's anger.  There was little doubt that anyone going in like that would make the referee's mind up and the dismissal looked to have put the game in Tottenham's hands.  However, it didn't entirely turn out like that, as Spurs played the ball around using the extra man to change their formation (Dier pushing into midfield more), but Watford worked hard and looked to hit on the break.  In the wake of the sending off, Deeney had been booked for his protests and soon after Ighalo broke away, but when chased by Tom Carroll, he threw and arm in the Tottenham man's face and was lucky not to follow Ake into the early bath.

Gomes was keeping Spurs out at the Watford end, with a rush out to stop Son getting on the end of a through ball from Christian Eriksen and then punching away a cross, but later he went for a cross and missed it completely.  Missing it completely was what Toby Alderweireld did to the ball when he tackled Capoue and ended up picking up his first booking of the season.

Watford were looking for set pieces to profit from and a Ben Watson corner caused a bit of panic in front of the Spurs goal, with a shot blocked before being cleared and then Nyom got away on the right to put a cross in, but Hugo double-fisted it away, having to do the same from another Watson corner soon after.  When the home team got a corner in the last two minutes, it was once again swung in low and found its way through to the middle of the goal, where Lloris did well to beat it out.  Goal-line technology did not buzz the referee and therefore, it couldn't have crossed the line.  TV evidence showed that was the case, but by only the smallest margin.

When play continued, Lloris took a back pass and went on a run as he was closed by Watford's forwards, making it out of the area, before passing to the right wing, but straight to Berhami.  The Swiss midfielder's poor control allowed Chadli to take the ball off him and play it left.  It was then worked across to the right where Trippier was in space.  His first cross was punched out by Gomes, who hit the ground and didn't hurry to get up, while Kieran put the ball back in on the volley towards the near post and Son was alert enough to flick the ball between his legs at goal and it went between Gomes' legs and prompted wild celebrations by the players in front of the Tottenham supporters behind that goal.  Our Korean striker might have been offside when the first ball came in, but he was onside for the second, being behind the ball Trippier played in and his instinctive finish won the three points for Spurs in the last minute. 

Seconds earlier, Spurs could have lost to the ten men, but their belief in their own style paid dividends and left Watford floored with only added time remaining.  Deeney and Ighalo tried to muscle in on the Spurs goal, but strong defending and a good block by Dier held firm to take temporarily into third place in the table.  It was a controlled performance, with the side dealing with the new formation and doing so well.  It certainly allowed freedom for Alli and Lamela, with Trippier and Rose enjoying the ability to attack in wide positions more often.  Eriksen had been quiet, but his passing, as well as Carroll's when he came on, helped Spurs keep the ball, while the three centre-halves kept the Watford striking duo quiet for most of the afternoon.

There is the Spurs motto of "To Dare Is To Do", but after this performance, maybe it should be "Do We Dare To Dream ?"

Gary Sampson




Watford were the second club in Hertfordshire to be nicknamed after an annoying insect after Hitchin Town took the nickname "The Gnats".


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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Arsenal 2 Bournemouth 0 Monday
Crystal Palace 0 Swansea City 0 Monday
Everton 3 Stoke City 4 Monday
Manchester United 0 Chelsea 0 Monday
Norwich City 2 Aston Villa 0 Monday
West Bromwich Albion 1 Newcastle United 0 Monday
West Ham United 2 Southampton 1 Monday
Leicester City 0 Manchester City 0 Tuesday
Sunderland 0 Liverpool 1 Wednesday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 19 12 4 4 33 18 39 +15
2 Leicester City 19 12 6 2 37 24 39 +13
3 Manchester City 19 12 3 5 37 20 36 +17
4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 19 9 8 2 33 15 35 +18
5 Crystal Palace 19 9 4 6 23 16 31 +7
6 Manchester United 19 8 6 4 22 16 30 +6
7 Liverpool 19 8 6 5 21 20 30 +1
8 West Ham United 19 7 8 4 28 23 29 +5
9 Watford 19 8 5 6 24 20 29 +5
10 Stoke City 19 8 5 6 20 19 29 +1
11 Everton 19 6 9 4 35 28 26 +7
12 Southampton 19 6 6 7 26 23 24 +3
13 West Bromwich Albion 19 6 5 8 17 24 23 -7
14 Chelsea 19 5 5 9 23 29 20 -6
15 Norwich City 19 5 5 9 22 32 20 -10
16 Bournemouth 19 5 5 9 22 34 20 -12
17 Swansea City 19 4 7 8 16 24 19 -8
18 Newcastle United 19 4 5 10 19 34 17 -15
19 Sunderland 19 3 3 13 19 38 12 -19
20 Aston Villa 19 1 5 13 15 34 8 -19

Position before match :  4th
Position after match :  3rd
Position after the weekend :  4th


* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.


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