OPPONENTS Watford at Wembley 
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Wednesday 30th January 2019
PREVIEW Not quite a London derby, but a short journey down the Metropolitan line for the Hornets to face Spurs at Wembley and having had the luxury of a weekend off, playing Newcastle United in the FA Cup, they will be refreshed and ready to face a jaded Tottenham team.  Having suffered two Cup knockouts in the space of four days and the players self-selecting because of injuries and a thin squad, the only ray of hope will be the return of prodigal Son Heung-Min.

Watford play a certain way and against a leggy side like Spurs, it might pay off.  It did earlier in the season when we were relatively fresh and the addition of Roberto Pereyra and Gerard Deulofeu, they have two creative players who get in and around the penalty area.  Added to the muscular approach that out-spoken Troy Deeney brings, it can be effective in testing the opposition back line. 

Watford are a funny side, as they don't look that strong a proposition on paper, but the sum of the parts is greater than the individuals, as manager Javi Gracia has moulded them into a decent unit.  But even then, they have the propensity to lose to sides they should beat, which leaves them bumbling around the mid-table positions, when there might be a possibility to go further up the table.  They move the ball well and can use the physical attributes up top, with Success adding to that of Gray to accompany Deeney in knocking a few players out of the way.

Gracia has got their defensive unit sorted out too.  At one time Cathcart, Janmaat, Holebas and Kabasele were not joined up, but they have been drilled into a tight back four now, mainly helped out by having some hard-workers in midfield to provide some cover.  We know Capoue is languid in thought and deed, but Doucoure (who is eyed by a number of teams here and abroad), Chalobah and Hughes put in a shift to stop their opposite numbers playing.

There are some weaknesses and we will need our fit players to exploit that.  Winks can pressure the passers when they are on the ball and we need to put the back four under pressure when they are on the ball, thus not letting them play out.  Eriksen will be key to opening up the visitors defence and with Son back, it will hopefully see him capitalising on some perceptive passes.  I think that the three attacking players in midfield might be Eriksen, Moura and Sissoko, if he is fit to start.  This is a good mix with Son up front, as I think Llorente's presence might play into Watford's hands.  We need to get more effort son target, as, when Ben Foster isn't wasting time, he has a mistake in his locker.  We need to stop opposing goalkeepers winning the man of the match award and regain the knack of putting the ball past them.

Trippier wasn't on top form on Sunday at Palace, so I expect Pochettino to go with the more muscular Aurier, with Danny Rose returning on the other side.  This would give us the option of pushing on with the full backs, although Watford will try and counter that by doing the same to nullify their progress.

Use of dead balls could be decisive at both ends, with Watford set up for set-pieces and having conceded twice at Vicarage Road to dead ball routines, Tottenham will be looking to ensure that doesn't happen again. 

On what threatens to be a chilly night, we can hope that Spurs turn on a performance that will warm the cockerels of our hearts and I don't think this will be a classic.  Getting past them 2-0 last season was a tough assignment and keeping close to Manchester city, who dropped points against Newcastle on Tuesday as well as away from Chelsea and Arsenal means the pressure is on us to win the game.

I don't really want to hint it, but we might drop a couple of points and although we haven't drawn this season, this could be the one, as we are not as fluent as we are normally and we can only hope that the Eriksen-Son link-up pays dividends.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    1        Watford   1
Spurs will welcome back Heung-Min Son, after his South Korea team were knocked out of the Asian Cup in midweek.  Harry Kane (ankle0, Dele Alli (hamstring), Ben Davies (groin) and Moussa SIssoko (ankle) are all out of the game with Watford. 
The Hornets will be at full strength after being able to rest their first choice starting eleven for their FA Cup tie at Newcastle United. 

Match of the Day 2  (BBC 1) - Wednesday 24.45 (highlights)  Also available online.

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Premier League Kick off 20:00
Tottenham Hotspur  2 (0) Watford  1 (1)


Son  79m 25s
Llorente  86m 41s


Cathcart  37m 19s




Mariappa (foul on Moura)  46
Holebas (foul on Son)  90+1
Capoue (foul on Mours)  75
Success (knocking ball out of ball boy's hands)  90+3  


Crowd :   29,164 Weather :  Dry; very cold
Referee :  Graham Scott (Oxfordshire) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Stuart Burt; Mr. Constantine Hatzidakis
Fourth Official :  Kevin Friend  
Spurs kicked off and played towards the East end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 7 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Watford : kit
  1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

  6  Davinson SANCHEZ
  5  Jan VERTONGHEN  (11  Erik LAMELA  79)

24  Serge AURIER  (27  Lucas MOURA  46)
17  Moussa SISSOKO  (  2  Kieran TRIPPIER  69)
  8  Harry WINKS
  3  Danny ROSE

23  Christian ERIKSEN
18  Fernando LLORENTE 
Heung-Min SON 

Unused subs: 

52  Oliver SKIPP
15  Eric DIER


  26  Ben FOSTER

  2  Jan JANMAAT
15  Craig CATHCART 
  6  Adrian MARIAPPA    
25  Jose HOLEBAS    

29  Will HUGHES
  8  Tom CLEVERLEY  (24  Ben WILMOT  66)
29  Etienne CAPOUE    
37  Roberto PEREYRA

  9  Troy DEENEY  (c)
  7  Gerard DEULOFEU  (10  Isaac SUCCESS      61)

Unused subs: 
  1  Heurelho GOMES
  3  Miguel BRITOS
11  Adam MASINA
20  Domingos QUINA
12  Ken SEMA

Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino Manager :  Javi Gracia
Sponsor :   AIA Shirt sponsor :  FxPro
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   adidas
Match report

With two goal sin the last ten minutes, Tottenham saw off a drearily unambitious Watford side, who started wasting time two minutes into the match.  The blatant attempted to run down time before it had almost started were allowed to carry on by the weak referee Graham Scott, who spoke to Watford players three times, but failed to take any decisive action to put a stop to it, so the late winner was sweeter than it would normally have been.  When Isaac Success decided to bully a ball boy by knocking the ball out of his hand (with Danny Rose telling him not to be too quick about throwing the ball to him) to hurry up the game in the last two minutes of added time, it brought about the first instance of a player being booked for not wasting time (with his team-mates having ironically avoided the same fate for the exact opposite).  Not only did he get booked but looked like someone taking it out on a child.  I am sure that the Watford player's parents must be very proud of him, with his actions not being a resounding success.

Pochettino's changes brought returns for Eriksen, Sissoko, Son, Alderweireld, Winks and Aurier, with Son's inclusion a welcome surprise after only coming back from the Asian Cup on Saturday.  With the cup defeats of last week, this match took on new importance, as Manchester City had lost the night before and Chelsea and Liverpool were playing at the same time.

Tottenham seemed to set out with a purpose, keeping possession and camping in the Watford half,  after an early Deulofeu cross went across the Spurs box, but the closest they came was when Son crossed in front of Llorente.  This is when Foster came into his own.  Taking the ball to the opposite side of the six yard box and taking an eternity to kick the ball, he seemed to have turned the clearance into some sort of performance art-form, with Scott and obvious admirer.  Looking sharp going forward, we were also alert at the back, with Toby just getting a touch onto Janmaat's cross with his head to take the ball away from Deeney, who was poised behind him.  Holebas was in on Foster's act too; shoving the ball up his shirt for each throw-in he was asked to take and then stealing a few yards, so that he could be sent back.  Christian Eriksen had a shot blocked before Son got the ball on the right, turned inside and then curled a beautiful effort that just missed the far post, with Foster just watching it (more of which later). 

Jan Vertonghen's cross caused a bit of panic in the box, with Eriksen's shot at the end of it half-blocked by Mariappa, sending Foster diving to his left to save.  Janmaat fired a shot over from 25 yards and a high ball into the box created a scramble with Alderweireld and Sanchez doing well to defend it.  Although he was doing a lot of his work outside the box, Llorente was looking OK, producing a ball to Vertonghen of all people running through the middle from the right 50 yards out, but Foster only just got there first.  Son put one straight at the keeper after embarrassing Capoue, who he left on the floor trying to untangle his legs, while Deulofeu put a shot across the face of goal before Holebas tried a go from 25 yards out.  The ball flew over the goal and the referee pointed for a corner.  Having scored twice from set-pieces in the game earlier this season, it was going to be a tester and it was one that Lloris failed.  Coming for it, getting half way and then going back, Deeney and Cathcart went for it and the ball dribbled into the bottom right hand corner of the net in the 39th minute.  it was a little bit predictable and a soft goal to concede, almost against the run of play.

Spurs were getting into god wide positions, but the ball in was either to nobody in particular or was blocked before it got into the heart of the area.  With a minute of added time, it looked like the referee was having a good laugh.

A host of players who played under Bill Nicholson (John Pratt, Cliff Jones, Martin Chivers) braved the cold to pay tribute to the man who made Tottenham Hotspur, who would have been 100 last Saturday.  Oh for a half time team talk form the great man to turn this game around.  But maybe, just maybe, we have a worthy successor to the great man in Mauricio Pochettino.  Replacing Aurier with Moura to add a more direct pacy threat, Spurs began the second half at such a lick that Mariappa could only foul Moura, not getting in the same postcode as the ball.  Hughes did the same, leaving Lucas in a heap, but didn't see yellow as the Watford centre-half had a minute earlier.

Winks was driving Spurs forward and seemed to be all over the pitch, working in tandem with Sissoko, who put in a great cross, low to the near post in the 51st minute.  Llorente got there first and met it with a volley that Foster was close to and blocked, but the ball popped up and Fernando couldn't keen it down as it hit his knee and went over the bar from a couple of yards out.  Lucas found himself in the wars after making his entrance into the game.  Apart from getting kicked as he drifted past opponents, Cleverley cleared the ball straight into the Brazilian's face, laying him out.  When play continued, Son was away after the ref had momentarily played an advantage, but then pulled play back as it looked like our South Korean international was away.  Another free-kick almost brought a goal, when Alderwiereld made a move to the near post and the ball was played in low.  I'm not sure if Toby touched it, but Deeney did, causing his keeper to stretch out a leg to prevent it creeping in at the near post.  Toby was alert to dink it back into the goalmouth, with Llorente rising at the near post to head at goal, but putting it wide. 

Spurs were keeping their game going and putting Watford under pressure in their own box, so when Rose found himself coming in onto a ball out to the left just inside the box, he crashed a shot at goal that substitute Wilmot blocked with almost his first touch.  .Lloris had to be strong at his near post as Deeney came in on a tight angle and looked to power one in past him, but he palmed it wide.  Former Spurs midfielder Etienne Capoue picked up a caution when he tripped Moura, when he had sped past him, with the free-kick leading to the first of string of corners Spurs had, but failed to get efforts on target.    It was looking like it wouldn't be our night and Watford will have got away with a smash-and-grab and a sack full of time-wasting.

Winks came closest, with a cross in from 35 yards out that almost dropped under the angle of post and crossbar, forcing Foster to hurriedly (the first time he hurried for anything) push the ball over the bar.  The Hornets should have been 2-0 ahead when a free0kick into the Spurs box was knocked out to Success, on for Deulofeu, had a clear shot at goal, but managed to make the ball swerve away from the target and miss by about five yards, when a straight shot may have brought more reward.  It was another substitution that looked to have changed the game, as Vertonghen was taken off and Lamela brought on to add to the attacking options.  Whether that had any bearing on anything, but a minute after he got on the pitch, Spurs were level instead of two goals behind.  Moura did well running with the ball and Capoue did think about fouling him, but must have remembered he had just been booked.  Lucas played a ball into the box that Llorente ran onto and came inside form the right, having the ball taken off him by Son, who turned and drilled a fierce shot from 15 yards out past a helpless Foster.  It was a crisp finish on a crisp night and one that left the team rushing back to the halfway line for the restart, thinking they could get more out of the game. 

There was ten minutes left and with Trippier on as right wing back, the ball was coming into the box more often, with his delivery better than on Sunday.  Lamela had a shot blocked and Rose had a shot deflected wide, before Llorente finally got a ball that he enjoys. 

When a ball was played into the box and Foster came flying over hid defenders to punch clear, it looked as though the danger had passed.  However, Winks recycled the ball, playing to Rose out on the left.  His ball in and rising at the far post, Fernando Llorente powered a header back across Foster, who stood watching the ball, thinking it was going wide and only diving to try and get it after the ball had gone in off his right hand post.  It was the sort of ball the Spaniard thrives on and he got his just desserts for plugging away, as did Spurs, who left the Watford players slumped on the turf, until they realised they needed to get back into the game and promptly started rushing around, luckily for us, like headless chickens. 

They did win a late corner, which Holebas swung straight out of play and then he was booked for a foul on Rose and when Danny told a ball boy to calm it down, Success started on a child and we had the phone ready to call Social Services.

At the end, Deeney was moaning at the referee, so there's something you wouldn't expect to see !  It was a triumph for football over the tedium that Watford tried to stultify the game with.  Having beaten us already this season, it was a little surprising that they didn't realise who to win again or perhaps they thought this was the way to win..  Whatever, they were a pale shadow of the team that beat us earlier this campaign and resorted to petty fouling to try to stop Tottenham's momentum.  Many players had outstanding performances tonight.  Excluding the goal, Jan and Toby were strong at the bal and with Davinson alongside them kept Deeney quiet (well, when he was playing and not gobbing off at the referee).  Winks is fast becoming an integral part of the Spurs midfield and Moura's quick feet caused them lots of problems.  Danny Rose kept making the runs up the left and eventually produced the cross for the winner.

Three important points and a good win that will help confidence when Newcastle arrive on Saturday, brimming with energy from their win over Manchester City.  Other results went our way with Liverpool drawing and Chelsea getting hammered at Bournemouth, so we just need to keep plodding on getting results, while the media concentrate on their darlings Liverpool United, City, Arsenal and Chelsea.  It's like we don't exist and frankly, that's the way I like it !

Jeff Blakeley

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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Arsenal 2 Cardiff City 1 Tuesday
Bournemouth 4 Chelsea 0 Wednesday
Fulham 4 Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Tuesday
Huddersfield Town 0 Everton 1 Tuesday
Liverpool 1 Leicester City 1 Wednesday
Manchester United 2 Burnley 2 Tuesday
Newcastle United 2 Manchester City 1 Tuesday
Southampton 1 Crystal Palace 1 Wednesday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3 West Ham United London 0 Tuesday


League Table  2018-19
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 24 19 4 1 55 14 61 +41
2 Manchester City 24 18 2 4 63 19 56 +44
3 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 24 18 0 6 50 24 54 +26
4 Arsenal 24 14 5 5 50 33 47 +17
5 Chelsea 24 14 5 5 40 23 47 +17
6 Manchester United 24 13 6 5 48 35 45 +13
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 24 10 5 9 30 31 35 -1
8 Watford 24 9 6 9 33 34 33 -1
9 Leicester City 24 9 5 10 30 30 32 0
10 West Ham United London 24 9 4 11 30 37 31 -7
11 Everton 24 9 6 9 35 33 33 +2
12 Bournemouth 24 10 3 11 37 42 33 -5
13 Brighton & Hove Albion 24 7 5 12 27 36 26 -9
14 Newcastle United 24 6 6 12 21 32 24 -11
15 Crystal Palace 24 6 5 13 24 33 23 -9
16 Southampton 24 5 8 11 26 41 23 -15
17 Burnley 24 6 5 13 25 45 23 -20
18 Cardiff City 24 5 4 15 20 46 19 -26
19 Fulham 24 4 5 15 25 53 17 -28
20 Huddersfield Town 24 2 5 17 13 41 11 -28


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


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