OPPONENTS Watford at Vicarage Road
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Saturday 18th January 2019
PREVIEW With Watford hitting a bit of form under new manager Nigel Pearson, who has been brought in to save them from relegation, it is an intriguing meeting at Vicarage Road, with Spurs still finding their feet amid the arrival of Jose Mourinho and with injuries to key players affecting team selection.  How the two teams fare against each other, with Spurs looking comfortable, but struggling to get past Middlesbrough in the FA Cup and Watford spared a slog through the mud at Tranmere by a postponement giving them a free week to prepare.

Pearson has  turned around the fortunes of the Hertfordshire club since he took over and it has come from good old fashioned organisation and restoring some of the regulars to the team.  Some have been forced on him as a result of injuries within the squad, but with relatively new signing Ismaila Saar teaming up with Deulofeu and Troy Deeney up front, they have added a scoring threat that had been missing and has resulted with the Hornets only having scored 20 goals in 22 games.

With the back four of Watford have been tight since Pearson's take-over, but when you look at them on paper, there should be nothing to worry the Spurs forwards.  Mariappa, Cathcart, Dawson and Masina would not shout clean sheets at you, but the manager's work with them and the midfield in front of them has formed a well-drilled defence to make them hard to get past.  Chalobah and Capoue are both leggy, but effective in breaking up play.  Doucoure has been freed from an anchor-man role to take up positions further forward and it has seen him create and take goals now.

Such has been the buy-in to the manager's tactics that Uruguayan Roberto Pereyra and former regular Jose Holebas have been stuck on the bench, along with forwards Andre Gray and Isaac Success.  Injuries within the squad have robber Pearson of some of the more experienced players and with a potential of four games in nine days, it will be interesting to see how the team utilises rotation ,although he has said that the FA Cup is not a priority.

For Spurs, they need to take the momentum of the win over Boro into this match and to realise that the key to it was the way they set about going at the opposition form the start at a quick tempo.  Fizzing passes about and moving well of the ball would give Watford some problems they might not have faced lately.  They have beaten Manchester United at Vicarage Road and last time out, they took the points 3-0 at Bournemouth.

They are not to be under-estimated and the wide men Saar and Deulofeu need to be contained to prevent the ball coming in for Deeney, who will make his presence felt in the middle.  Using Lo Celso and Lamela, Spurs can stretch Watford by running at them with the ball on the floor.  There is no point humping the ball forward in the air, as Mariappa and Cathcart will eat that up all afternoon.  Keep it on the turf and make sure there is an option to lay the ball off to, while moving to receive the next pass.  It's not rocket science and Spurs have been doing it through the Rowe, Nicholson and Pochettino eras.  So, if Spurs can build up a bit of pass and move in their play, while not losing sight of the ability Watford have to attack them, then they cold come out of the day with a smile on their faces.

PREDICTION Watford     1        Tottenham Hotspur    2
Spurs have injury victims Hugo Lloris (elbow), Ben Davies (ankle), Moussa Sissoko (knee), Harry Kane (hamstring) and Tanguy Ndombele (hip) still unavailable.  Midfielder Gedson Fernandes could be available for selection after signing on an 18 month loan deal from Benfica.

The Hornets will be without Danny Welbeck (thigh), Daryl Janmaat (knee), Tom Cleverley (calf), Will Hughes (groin), Kiko Femenia (thigh) and Sebastian Prodl (calf) for their home game against Spurs on Saturday.  New signing Igancio Pussetto could make his debut in midfield.


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Premier League Kick off 12:30
Watford  0 (0)  
Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0)




Crowd :   21,366 Weather :  Sunny, cold
Referee :  Michael Oliver (Northumberland) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Simon Bennett; Mr. Stuart Burt
Fourth Official :  Tim Robinson  
Video Assistant Referee :  Kevin Friend Video Assistant Referee Assistant :  Stephen Child
Watford kicked off and played towards the Rookery stand end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 8 minutes.
Capoue (foul on Lo Celso)  35
Doucoure  (handbags with Winks)  61


Tanganga  (foul on Sarr)  19
Winks (handbags with Doucoure) 61
Vertonghen  (handball)  69


Watford : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit

26  Ben FOSTER

  Craig DAWSON
  Craig CATHCART  (c)

  Nathaniel CHALOBAH  (37  Roberto PEREYRA  79)
29  Etienne CAPOUE      

  Ismaila SARR  (33  Ignacio PUSSETTO  89)
  Abdoulaye DOUCOURE    


Unused subs: 
  Heurelho GOMES
  Christian KABASELE
20  Domingos QUINA
18  Andre GRAY



24  Serge AURIER
  5  Jan VERTONGHEN  (c)    
  Japhet TANGANGA    

  8  Harry WINKS    
20  DELE Alli  (23  Christian ERIKSEN  73)

11  Erik LAMELA
  Heung-Min SON

18  Giovani LO CELSO  (30  Gedson FERNANDES  80)

27  Lucas MOURA

Unused subs: 
2  Michel VORM
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ
  Oliver SKIPP

Manager :  Nigel Pearson Manager :  Jose Mourinho
Sponsor : Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  adidas Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

The visit to Vicarage Road on a sunny, but chilly January lunch-time should have brought more than the one point we returned home with, but without a recognised forward leading the line, the finishing was as off-target as the use of VAR in this goal-less draw.  And that was with Watford being handed a penalty by Vertonghen's flailing arm, but even that was spurned on a day when shooting boots were well and truly left at home by both sides.

Capoue started as he meant to go on by hauling back Lucas Moura in the first minute as he dragged the ball away from him. An early dinked ball into the Watford area saw claims for a handball, but Deulofeu broke away to the Spurs penalty area and shot wide as no penalty had been given at the other end despite the ball clearly hitting Cathcart’s outstretched arm (a la Sissoko in the Champions League final). Son hit a weak shot to Foster as Spurs played their football in the Watford half in the first five minutes, as Aurier won a corner and then won the ball when it was punched out, allowing Lamela to have a run from right to left, but he pulled his shot across goal and wide.

Watford were sitting deep and were probably looking to use Deulofeu’s pace on the break. While Spurs were comfortably controlling possession, Watford were  getting lots of people back to stop Tottenham coning through the middle and the crosses that came in were more likely to be won by the home players. It took 17 minutes for Watford to break out and Winks had the ball taken off him on their left wing and it came into the middle, but Sarr could only fire it high and wide. It gave them a little boost and Deeney won a free-kick, very central and 35 yards out, but they couldn’t make anything of it. A minute later and they had one on the edge of the box on the Watford right when Tanganga pulled down Sarr and got a yellow card for the foul. Chalobah tried to- beat Gazzaniga at his near post but put the ball into the Hornets’ fans behind the goal, missing it by a long way.

Watford started to get back into the game and were further forward than in the first quarter of an  hour. Both sides went through a phase of giving the ball away, before some neat close footwork saw Son and Dele set up a shot for Moura, but Dawson blocked it at close range. Capoue raised his studs and caught Tanganga on the knee, but surprisingly, VAR deemed that it was nothing. The inconsistency shouldn’t be surprising when you know referees are judging this in a studio, but they are supposed to be getting these decisions right. It then brought about a long break in play while the referee had to have his mic changed, which took over three minutes.

When played restarted with a Spurs free-kick, they worked the ball forward to Dele, who passed to Son. His shot on goal was deflected and Foster had to dive to grab the ball to his right. Sarr beat Japhet and put in a low ball that Deeney couldn’t make a connection with and when it went to the far post Deulofeu took on Aurier, but Serge blocked it out for a corner. Gazzaniga had to palm away a deep cross and then, the be-tighted Deulofeu won a free-kick, but Tanganga headed it well clear. Capoue finally got his booking when he cynically brought own Giovani Lo Celso when he broke away and when Aurier cleared a long throw, Dele took the ball with a back-hell that put the ball in front of him to run into the Watford half. He laid it out to Lucas on his right in the area and his shot was blocked as Foster came out to meet him. Dele was making some good moves but was also letting the ball run out of his reach when running with it and making loose short passes. It was a long pass that almost opened up Watford, when Winks played a diagonal ball left from halfway to pick out Son’s run and he chose to strike it first time on the volley, but he couldn’t keep it down.

A few minutes before half-time, Chalobah dinked a cross in to Deeney on the penalty spot, but his header was plucked out of the air by Paulo. Watford were pressing Spurs a bit more when the ball was in possession of our defenders, especially Tanganga, who was getting taken on being on a yellow card. Sarr put in another cross from their right and Spurs defended it well, when Aurier won the header and then bodies blocked Capoue from having a shot, before Deeney tried to flick in another cross, but it went off target.

In the first minute of the second half, Tanganga was left unprotected with Sarr running at him, and he put the ball to Doucoure who go a favourable bounce in the box, but he could only shoot into the side-netting. A long ball into the spurs box was headed up in the air by Deeney and Lo Celso’s presence put Sarr off as he totally missed his kick when it looked likely that he might score. Sarr took on Japhet again, who looked uncomfortable at left back, but Dele covered and blocked the cross at the cost of a corner. From that, Tottenham broke away and Son’s cross in was just too high for Dele to get over to head on target.

Deeney managed a shot that was deflected by off Toby Alderweireld after the Hornets captain got the bounce of the ball. Deeney then conned the referee into giving him a free-kick when he went down so softly, with Toby behind him but not holding onto him. The lack of control by the referee caused a ruck when he failed to spot a foul by Doucoure on Winks and a lot of players were involved, leaving VAR to sort it out and no red card ensued, but yellows for both players. . When it was sorted out, Spurs broke away and Lamela’s ball to Dele was left, as he was well offside and Son chased it down, as the Watford defence hesitated and flashed a shot just over the bar from a tight angle on the right. Lucas turned away from three men in a tight position and ran forward before laying it off to Lamela, whose right foot shot was scuffed, but went off a defender for a corner.

When the ball was pulled back from the right wing, Doucoure shot after Winks slipped and as Vertonghen and Lo Celso slid it, it hit Jan’s arm that was away from his body but with his back to the shot. VAR looked at it and confirmed the spot-kick, with Deeney stepping up to take it. He struck it to Gazzaniga’s right but it was too close to him and a couple of feet off the floor that saw Paulo dive the right way and push it well away from goal. It was quite a surprise that VAR didn’t order a re-take for encroachment, but play went on, with Watford putting pressure on the Spurs defence. Jose brought Eriksen on for Dele and his first action was a shot at goal that came off a defender for a corner that he took, but put straight into Foster’s hands. With just over 10 minutes left, Gedson Fernandes came on for his debut as a sub for Lo Celso. The referee did play a good advantage, when Deulofeu almost kicked Alderweireld in the head and  then Masina brought down Lamela, but the game was allowed to continue. The ball got played out left to Gedson, who pulled it across the six-yard box to cut out the keeper, but there was no Spurs shirt in support to get on the end of it.

Tanganga made a good interception on the edge of his own box when Deeney tried to move the ball on and played it forward, with Moura getting the bounce of the ball. It was worked across the field to the left and Aurier put in a fierce low ball to the near post, where Lamela got a touch and Foster was down to block it. Erik then fired a shot over the bar from 20 yards out, then in added time, he nudged the ball on for Aurier to have a shot blocked and then got the ball across for Lamela to squirt the ball past Foster, but having just come on, Watford sub Pussetto kicked the ball away millimetres before the whole of the ball crossed the line. It was so close to a goal. And that was the last chance.

A point was a disappointing outcome, but with the penalty against us and Sarr dangerous on their right wing, it was a little margin between us and three points.  However, it was one more point than we got there last season,  so something to be pleased about and there were a few other plusses.
Gedson looks wiry, but showed good physical strength and looked to get forward, with some decent passing and movement and although Watford targeted Tanganga, he stuck to his task and never gave up.  We created chances, but our finishing was poor and we should really have tested Foster more than we did.  Even without Kane, we need to get our players getting their efforts on target.

It bring on another important match on Wednesday against Norwich.  Not a must win, but a victory will give the team confidence ahead of the FA Cup tie at Southampton and then the home match with Manchester City.  We will need it !

Ted Maul

Match facts

Tottenham's first 0-0 Premier League draw after 93 games.

This was the first away clean sheet Spurs had kept for 382 days (Cardiff City 01.01.2019).

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How the players did
Paulo Gazzaniga Little work to do apart from save a penalty !  A long awaited clean sheet had been well earned with the save from Deeney.
Serge Aurier Did well and looked to get into attacking positions, although the majority of his crosses failed to find a Spurs man.
Toby Alderweireld Tough afternoon with Deeney giving him a roughing up, but managed to win the ball fairly most times.
Jan Vertonghen Looked a little rattled in the middle of the defence but unfortunate to give away the penalty.  Got involve din the face-off with Doucoure, as a captain should do.
Japhet Tanganga Given a torrid afternoon by the pacy Sarr.  Got an early yellow card and kept going, even though he was played out of his usual right back position.
Harry Winks Battled away and tried to kick start some forward moves, but most notably got booked for a row with Doucoure.
Dele Alli Ran to close down energetically and moved well into space, but some passing was off-target and .
Giovani Lo Celso Looked good again despite Capoue taking out a contract on him.  Faded in the second half, but looks like he will be a capable replacement for Eriksen.
Erik Lamela Tried to open up the massed Watford defence with runs and passes.  Only just failed (by 10mm) to force the ball over the line at the end.
Heung-Min Son Looked Tottenham's most likely to score, but his best chance - a volley from Winks' long pass - was flashed over the bar.
Lucas Moura Worked hard to battle through on runs with the ball and closing down defenders.
Gedson Fernandes Had ten minutes and showed that he could be a useful player.  Confident on the ball and showing good movement off it, Gedson might be a shrewd signing.
Christian Eriksen Looked a bit more engaged than the Middlesbrough game, but little time to make too much of a difference in the match.
Michel Vorm Unused.
Davinson Sanchez Unused.
Eric Dier Unused.
Oliver Skipp Unused.
Ryan Sessegnon Unused.


What you thought
Patrick O'Hanrahanrahanrahan VAR is becoming a little bit of a joke. A studs up challenge was judged as nothing to worry about when other players seemingly get sent off for less, while between four officials and some more in NW London, they couldn’t even get a factual issue like the amount of time taken to change the referee’s equipment right.

Why bother with it, as it seems to cause even more controversy trying to get decisions “right” than
when the referee on the field used to have to make the decisions.
- -.


Other scores during this week :
Woolwich Wanderers 1 Sheffield United 1 Saturday
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Manchester City 2 Crystal Palace 2 Saturday
Norwich City 1 AFC Bournemouth 0 Saturday
South Coast Big Club 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 3 Saturday
West Ham United London 1 Everton 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 1 Frank Lampard's Chelsea 0 Saturday
Burnley 2 Leicester City 1 Sunday
Liverpool 2 Manchester United 0 Sunday


League Table  2019-20
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 22 21 1 0 52 14 64 +38
2 Manchester City 23 15 3 5 64 27 48 +37
3 Leicester City 23 14 3 6 48 23 45 +25
4 Frank Lampard's Chelsea 23 12 3 9 39 30 39 +9
5 Manchester United 23 9 7 7 36 27 34 +9
6 Wolverhampton Wanderers 23 8 10 5 34 30 34 +4
7 Sheffield United 23 8 9 6 25 22 33 +3
8 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 23 8 7 8 36 31 31 +5
9 Crystal Palace 23 7 9 7 22 25 30 -4
10 Woolwich Wanderers 23 6 11 6 30 32 29 -1
11 Everton 23 8 5 10 26 33 29 -7
12 Newcastle United 23 8 5 10 22 34 29 -12
13 South Coast Big Club 23 8 4 11 29 42 28 -13
14 Burnley 23 8 3 12 26 38 27 -12
15 Brighton & Hove Albion 23 6 7 10 26 31 25 -5
16 West Ham United London 22 6 5 11 26 34 23 -8
17 Watford 23 5 8 10 20 34 23 -14
18 Aston Villa 23 6 4 13 27 42 22 -15
19 AFC Bournemouth 23 5 5 13 20 36 20 -16
20 Norwich City 23 4 5 14 23 45 17 -22

Position before match :  8th
Position after match :  8th
Position after the weekend :  8th


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