BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
MONDAY 28TH DECEMBER, 2015
WATFORD 1 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)
Referee:- Anthony Taylor
Assistants:- J Brooks, S Burt
Fourth Official:- C Pawson
Watford (4-4-2):- Gomes; Anya, Cathcart, Britos (sub Prodl,60) , Ake; Abdi (sub Behrami, 46), Capoue, Watson, Jurado (sub Nyom, 68); Deeney (Capt.), Ighalo
Subs not used:- Arlauskis; Holebas; Guedioura; Diamanti
Booked:- Britos (foul on Trippier), Jurado (foul on Alli), Deeney (Dissent), Ighalo (foul on Carroll)
Sent off (63):- Ake (high challenge/foul on Lamela)
Spurs (4-2-3-1/3-4-2-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Dembele (sub Eriksen, 45); Lamela, Carroll (sub Son, 68), Alli (sub Chadli, 81); Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Walker, Davies; Mason
Booked:- Alli (foul on Capoue), Alderweireld (foul on Capoue)
Son’s magic touch completes a great Spurs Christmas!
It's been another great day for Spurs, as Heung-min Son's lovely late back-heel flick gave us a dramatic 2-1 win against a 10-man team who actually put us under a good deal of pressure in the late stages. That makes three wins on the trot, and gives us third place overnight, until Man City play Leicester tomorrow.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Christmas rotation consisted of changing his full-backs, and his thinking soon became evident as he very quickly switched his usual 4-2-3-1 formation to a 3-4-2-1. Eriksen had been left on the bench, with Tom Carroll starting between Lamela on the right and Dele Alli on the left, but that early tactical switch pushed Carroll back to play next to Mousa Dembele, with Trippier and Rose providing Spurs’ width going forward. Eric Dier was pulled back to play between Alderweireld and Vertonghen, and having taken a 17th minute lead, it looked as if Spurs would retain control until Dier made one mistake against Odion Ighalo who scored his 14th league goal of the season and for the sixth consecutive game.
Kieran Trippier had an excellent game for Spurs and provided the assist for a magical moment when Son Heung-min beat goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes at his near post with a clever back-heel flick with only one minute of ordinary time remaining. By then, Watford had been playing with 10 men for almost half an hour after Chelsea loanee Nathan Ake got his marching orders for chopping down Erik Lamela with a studs first tackle. This action fired up the home crowd and the home team, who did put Spurs under no little pressure with only 10 men.
It was another mild day, and a full house, with Spurs fans in high spirits. The visiting fans gave Gomes a very warm welcome when his name was announced, and Gomes responded with generous applause and affection to his former fans. He also got a great reception when he kept goal at The Vicarage Road End in the second half in front of the Spurs fans. He even got a rendition or two of his old Spurs song, and loved that too. There was less love towards Etienne Capoue, who, when he missed a shooting chance was greeted with “That’s why we sold you!”
Watford are a powerful and quite physical team, who sought to close Spurs down in the midfield. As a result one or two early passes from Trippier and Carroll went astray as they felt a “Hornet” or two breathing down their necks. I should mention that one of the tunes played in the build-up to the game fitted perfectly our “Mousa Dembele” chant, and he had his name called several times in the game.
An early pass by Dele Alli to Harry Kane gave the Spurs striker the chance to get into the box. He went down under a challenge, but there was no foul. Unfortunately, Alli then took a very early booking for a foul on Capoue, which meant that Alli had to be very careful for the rest of the game. To his credit, Alli, who has now had six league bookings this season, not only maintained his discipline, but still had a great impact on the game, with plenty of creative skills.
Harry Kane did well to control and take on a ball from a throw-in winning a couple of corners. After 12 minutes, Carroll collected a Gomes clearance and hit a good ball to Alli, who chipped the ball over the defence for Kane, who rightly decided he could not go for the ball, as he was offside. Watford won a corner after an unconvincing clearance by Lloris, and Eric Dier cleared the ball under pressure. It was from this corner that Capoue was ridiculed by the visiting fans for his wide attempt on goal.
Spurs took the lead after Alli intercepted a ball inside the Watford half and quickly spread the play to Kane towards the centre. Lamela was following up behind and to the left of Kane, who obliged him with a quick pass. Erik was away and beat the defence giving himself time and room to fire low to the left of Gomes for the opening goal. Spurs were dominating possession and in control. We just needed that second goal!
Kane did well to win a header from a Spurs break, feeding the ball to Lamela again on his left. Lamela’s cross passed wide across goal. There was a bit of a spat between Ighalo and Vertonghen, before Ake crossed from the left, but Ighalo fired wide of the near post. Vertonghen found Alli with a good long ball, and Dele hit a shot from the left which also passed wide of the far post. Harry Kane received a ball with his back to goal, turned but hit his shot over the target.
Hugo Lloris was down to a shot by Jurado, after Carroll had been caught in possession in midfield. Trippier was available for a good Alderweireld ball, but Gomes held the cross. Carroll again found Trippier with a nice pass, but again the cross was cleared. Spurs then got caught out on the edge of the area, as Ighalo was very closely challenging Dier. With no space, Dier struggled to clear, and the ball fell between the two players with Ighalo coming out of the situation with the ball, and with no-one other than Lloris to beat.
A Spurs corner won by Rose and taken by Lamela was cleared as far as Trippier, who hit a good shot just outside Gomes’ right post. Dembele had to go off before the break, and was replaced by Eriksen. Alli fell back to play beside Carroll in the middle of the four in front of our back three. This strategy had nullified the threat of Deeney and Ighalo to a large degree, but Ighalo only needed that one chance.
After 54 minutes, Lamela and Eriksen combined to give Kane a chance, but the shot was easy for Gomes. Eriksen found Trippier with a good ball, and the right back crossed successfully again, but Harry Kane put his header wide.
Watford coach Flores had replaced the booked Britos with Prodl, but then found himself a player short as Lamela went down under a crunching challenge by Ake, who was sent off after some hesitation by referee Anthony Taylor. I understand it was a studs-up challenge, and therefore considered dangerous. Deeney was booked for arguing the Watford case too strongly, and after that the Watford tails were up. Ighalo had a go at Carroll chasing a ball down the touchline, and also got booked. Carroll was replaced by Son Heung-min with 22 minutes to go. Son was the intended recipient of another Eriksen ball, but Gomes got to it first.
Toby Alderweireld got his first booking of the season for another foul on Capoue. Alderweireld had been put under pressure by some uncertain Spurs defending, also involving Lloris. Watford won several corners, and their fans sniffed a goal. There was a scramble after 81 minutes, when Spurs managed to block and clear a couple of shots.
Lloris was also called into action with a vital save. Less than a minute before Son's winning goal Watson took a corner from the left. Lloris saved the kick right on the goal-line. The goal line technology was invoked and the ball had not fully crossed the line but was very close.
All three points were seized by Spurs in the 89th minute. Gomes had punched one Trippier cross which fell back to the feet of the full back, who hit a low cross to the near post, where Son flicked the ball through Gomes’ legs into the net in front of the ecstatic Spurs fans. There were great scenes of joint player/fan jubilation. The three points put us third overnight, with Man City playing Leicester tomorrow. That makes it three wins on the trot, putting us four points clear of Palace, who drew today, and five clear of Man Utd, who also drew at home to 14th placed Chelsea.
We will hear the Z cars theme again on Sunday when we visit Goodison Park. Everton will be sore after a dramatic 4-3 home defeat today by Stoke.
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