BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 6TH FEBRUARY, 2016
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0) WATFORD 0(0)
Referee:- Roger East
Assistants:- D. Eaton & M. Scholes
Fourth official:- J. Linington
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Trippier, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Davis; Dier, Dembele; Chadli (sub Alli, 61), Eriksen (sub Carroll, 90), Lamela (sub Son, 72); Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Walker, Rose; Mason
Watford (4-2-3-1):- Gomes; Nyom, Cathcart, Britos ( sub Prodl, 54), Ake; Suarez (sub Behrami, 46), Watson; Abdi (sub Deeney, 46), Capoue, Jurado; Ighalo
Subs not used:- Pantilimon; Amrabat, Anya; Holebas
Booked:- Capoue (foul on Trippier)
Tripp(ier)ing the light fantastic!
Spurs hit new heights today with a 1-0 win over Watford which took them to second place in the Premier League after 25 games. I certainly cannot remember us being in second place after 25 games in the Premier League era.
That placing was achieved thanks to Leicester's quite astounding 3-1 win at The Etihad stadium over Man City, and thanks to Kieran Trippier's first goal for Spurs laid on by substitute Dele Alli's excellent low cross. Spurs could and should have won by more.
I was somewhat mystified by Watford manager Quique Flores' strategy. He left club captain Troy Deeney on the bench for the first half, and clearly sought to get ten men behind the ball to frustrate Spurs, who did dominate possession. Then at the start of the second half Flores made a double substitution, which included Deeney for Abdi, and played 4-4-2. Flores must have fancied his chances of winning, but he simply opened up the game, and Spurs opened the second half with gusto.
Once we did score, we fans had to twitch for the remainder of the game during which Watford did create a couple of chances. However, Heurelho Gomes, given a great reception by the home crowd, had plenty of work to do and made several saves, together with plenty of crosses held. Gomes had a good game.
Mauricio Pochettino changed his full backs, both of whom had excellent games, and one really wonders who is our best player in either position. Pochettino also switched two of the midfield three supporting Kane, with Chadli and Lamela getting the nod in preference to Son and Dele Alli. Alli, who suffered some dizziness on Tuesday night at Norwich had a great impact as substitute.
A band of heavy rain has been crossing the country in many regions, but White Hart Lane was dry, but very windy. There was a minute's applause for Spurs Double team legend Peter Baker, who recently passed away. His team-mate Cliff Jones was interviewed at half-time.
Flores included new signing Mario Suarez beside Ben Watson in front of the defence, but apart from Ighalo, all of the Watford team were behind the ball, and spent most of the time in their own half. In fact, I had under observation firstly one, then two pigeons that were able to spend most of the first half happily pecking away either in Hugo Loris's area, or outside to his left.
For all their possession, it took Spurs a while to truly put Gomes under threat. Eriksen had an early shot blocked, whilst Dembele won first a corner, then a free kick, with nothing resulting from either situation.
The ever reliable Toby Alderweireld hit a long pass to Harry Kane who tried to lob Gomes, but the keeper held the ball in front of his own fans. Dembele sent Davies away with a good ball and the left back, who hit a number of good crosses, hit one to the back post which was well defended against Kane, and ultimately cleared by Gomes.
A Spurs corner from the right side was met by Chadli's header, but easy for Gomes. Lamela won another corner, and I noted the pigeon enjoying peace and quiet in our goalmouth! Eriksen hit a pass with power to Trippier advancing down the right, and his cross was headed out for another corner. Dembele fired wide following a subsequent corner won by Lamela.
Spurs weren't getting much out of referee Roger East, and a big cheer went around the ground when he finally awarded us a free kick outside the Watford area. The ball was fed to Davies, who had space on the left and hit a good shot, which was deflected into the side netting for another corner.
Davies had another chance following good work by Eriksen, then Chadli. Davies hit a shot which Gomes managed to parry in the centre of his goalmouth before the ball was cleared. Now I was even seeing three pigeons in our area!
Watford finally did have a pop at goal, which fell to Abdi on the edge of the Spurs area on the right. It was a high effort which passed over Lloris's goal.
Chadli fielded another good Alderweireld pass, feeding Davies again, who was in space, but saw Gomes save again to concede a corner. Lamela fired over soon after that following Dier's deep cross.
Spurs started the second half very much on the front foot. The home crowd were after a penalty when Gomes appeared to tap Harry Kane's ankles after Lamela's corner. Needless to say Mr. East was not interested. More Spurs pressure followed with Alderweireld and Kane involved before Eriksen hit a shot held by that man Gomes.
Spurs had a break from their own half started by Alderweireld. Lamela hit a good touch to Kane whose shot was not held by Gomes. Eriksen was challenging but Watford managed to clear. Kane wanted another penalty when he went down in the box, trying to do something with Trippier's cross, but had no joy.
Former Spur Etienne Capoue, who had also been fondly received when announced, got the only yellow card of the match after stopping Trippier in his tracks. Capoue was lucky not to see yellow a second time later in the game. Lamela took the resulting free kick, and Gomes held it.
On the hour, Chadli was replaced by Dele Alli who got a big cheer and had an immediate impact combining well with Kane down the left before the ball was fed to Lamela, who tried to chip Gomes, but the keeper held.
Soon after that, Alli got ahead of Harry Kane down the left and almost to the byeline, crossing hard and low for Trippier to convert at the back post for a well deserved goal. That is to say the goal was deserved by both the player and the team. Dembele had been instrumental with a good run down the left channel, before feeding the ball to Alli for his final assist.
Lamela fired wide, having been out in by Eriksen, and then Capoue fouled Trippier again (this time in the Spurs half), but was subject only to "words" from the referee.
Lamela was replaced by the lively Son Heung-min. Spurs were having trouble getting the ball to sit still in the quadrant when taking corners, and this probably led to more short corners in the closing period. Kevin Wimmer (looking as skid as Alderweireld at the back) had a shot saved after Eriksen's cross.
After 74 minutes, Son received the ball from Trippier and hit an excellent shot, which was well saved by Gomes for another corner. Subsequently, Son lost a ball in the Watford half, but had it gifted back passing it to Eriksen, whose cross/shot passed just in front of Dele Alli.
Our fears of Watford perhaps scraping a draw came closest to materialising in the latter stages of the game. Deeney and Ighalo made a break after 81 minutes, with Deeney feeding his partner, who won a corner.
Gomes saved again from Eriksen with Son involve in the build-up. In added time Deeney headed the ball to Ighalo, but his shot was easy for Lloris.
In the end, 1-0 was good enough for Spurs, who deserved more. It's a great result, putting us one point ahead of Man City into second place. However, Leicester's win does leave them five points in front. Next week's game at The Etihad takes on massive proportions. With Vincent Kompany still injured, who is to say that Spurs cannot emulate Leicester? It will be hard though! Hush my lips, but I think we need Arsenal to at least draw against "The Foxes" next week.
Our good friend "Hotspur Sam" Fisher has pointed out the fact that on the day we remembered a fantastic right back (Peter Baker) our current right back Kieran Trippier scored the goal that could yet send Spurs onto the path to glory.
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