SUNDAY 1ST JANUARY, 2017
WATFORD 1(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4(3)
Kaboul, 90 (+1)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: S Burt, S Bennett
Fourth official: R East
Watford (3-4-3):- Gomes; Cathcart, Prodl, Kaboul; Amrabat (sub Sinclair, 75), Capoue (sub Kasabele, 79), Guedioura, Holebas (sub Mason, 68); Doucoure, Ighalo, Deeney (Capt.)
Subs not used:- Pantilimon; Stewart, Rolan, Folivi
Booked:- Holebas (foul on Eriksen), Prodl (foul on Son), Cathcart (foul on Janssen)
Spurs (3-4-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Dier, Alderweireld, Wimmer; Trippier, Eriksen, Wanyama, Rose (sub Davies, 68); Son, Kane (sub Janssen, 77), Alli (sub Winks, 61)
Subs not used:- Vorm; Carter-Vickers; Sissoko, Dembele
New Year Fizz with double bubble for Harry and Dele!
There was plenty of New Year’s Day fizz for Spurs today at Vicarage Road, as Spurs won their second consecutive away game 4-1, with both Harry Kane and Dele Alli getting “double bubble”. Spurs were three up at half-time, which is the first time in an away league game since March 1997 at Roker Park when we beat Sunderland 4-0. It was 4-0 today within a minute of the second half starting, but former Spur Younes Kaboul finally got a consolation goal in added time.
This was also the first time since the Double Season (October 1960) that Spurs had scored four or more goals in two consecutive matches away from home. Those were 4-0 at Nottingham Forest and 4-3 at Newcastle. In addition, those matches had been preceded by a 4-0 win at Wolves, but a home draw against Manchester City followed the Wolves win. Something else happened that season too!
Spurs were in great form and played some fine football, but they were playing against a side which had won only one of their previous six games, and which is struggling with injuries (and one suspension) which has decimated Head Coach Walter Mazzarri’s options. Watford even had to make a late change to their intended line-up with substitute Ighalo starting instead of Zuniga.
There was no need for any pitch-watering today with plenty of rain falling before and throughout the game. The Vicarage Road Stadium seems to be fully developed now with “The Sir Elton John Stand” finished. Watford have some hospitality in two corners including a “Sensory Room” near the away support, and boxes along the top of the Graham Taylor Stand. Before kick-off the Rookery Stand had two banners unfurled which read:- “We’ll never forget the fallen” and “We can forget FIFA”, commenting upon the recent fining of Home Nation teams over our Remembrance commemorations in November.
Mauricio Pochettino opted for a 3-4-3 today, with Dier, Alderweireld and Kevin Wimmer across the back, and Kieran Trippier, Eriksen, Wanyama and Danny Rose in front of them. Son, Kane and Alli formed the attacking three. Wimmer and Trippier were required because of the one match suspensions of Kyle Walker and Jan Vertonghen. By the end of the game, Pochettino was able to replace Alli, Rose and Kane (in that order), and with Sissoko and Dembele un-used, Spurs are in good shape for Wednesday night’s clash with Chelsea!
Watford also tried a 3-4-3 shape, but spent most of the game pegged back by the Spurs high press, and the overwhelming superiority of their visitors. I had met a Watford fan before the game who had predicted a walk-over for Spurs, and so it turned out. However, whilst we were in total control from the outset, it took a while before the scoreline reflected the true nature of the game.
Watford kicked off and played towards the away fans in The Vicarage Road Stand. Within a minute, Spurs had a free kick, taken by Eriksen and parried away by Gomes, but the officials had spotted a Spurs player offside. A while later, referee Michael Oliver showed leniency towards Guedioura after he brought down Danny Rose. Spurs had a nice move down the left after 10 minutes, which had been started with a good ball by Alderweireld to Danny Rose. The move was finished with a good shot by Eriksen, which was deflected by Capoue for a corner. Spurs’ appeals for a handball were turned down.
Both Danny Rose and Kieran Trippier were getting forward to really good effect, and Kieran Trippier (making his first Premier League start of the season) had a great game, with involvement in our first two goals in particular. Kieran made a bid for man of the match, but two goals apiece for Kane and Alli put paid to that idea! Kevin Wimmer hit a good ball from the back to Harry Kane who exchanged passes with Rose before hitting a shot just outside the far post with his right foot. Another Wimmer ball to Kane led to a final pass by Eriksen to Danny Rose who was in a central position and hit his shot just over the bar. Eriksen himself had a left foot attempt also go over the bar.
After 26 minutes, and a pass from Son, Dele Alli beat Gomes with his shot, but saw the ball rebound off the bar. All was well though, as in the following play and a move from the right, Trippier threaded a pass to Harry Kane who was at a tight angle on the right of goal, but still beat Gomes with his shot inside the post.
Spurs’ second goal was my favourite. Son’s determination in the middle led to the ball rebounding to Dele Alli. Dele hit a pass first time to Trippier on the right. The full back hit a great early powerful cross which was met with power by Harry Kane for his second goal of the game and his 10th Premier League goal of the season. That puts “one of our own” level third in the Premier league score chart. Dele Alli is only two behind him now too!
Son’s involvement in that second goal was arguably his best moment. He saw a lot of the ball today, but was frustrating sometimes in his inability to fully capitalise. He did work ever so hard though, like all Pochettino’s men. Son had a shot blocked after receiving from Eriksen’s free kick. Spurs went 3-0 up in the 41st minute after a move down the left-hand side. It was Harry Kane who passed inside and Younes Kaboul's poor clearance fell to the feet of Dele Alli, who placed his shot nicely to the left of Gomes.
When Gomes came to our end at the start of the second half, he was warmly greeted with “his song”, and acknowledged the fans. He might well have still been a little distracted by the affection when Spurs went 4-0 up following a Watford throw on their left. Kane moved the ball to the left of the defence and Alli delightfully beat Gomes with a low shot to his right.
Whilst Spurs did still dominate the play, they did naturally ease up somewhat, and after all, some on the pitch needed to save themselves for Wednesday. Kane gave Son a chance which he put wide. Watford finally had an attempt on goal, after Deeney fed Ighalo, but the shot went wide across the goalmouth. At the other end, Danny Rose was fouled just outside the box after taking on Eriksen’s pass. Kane took the free kick which Gomes pushed round for a corner.
Dele Alli was the first player replaced and Harry Winks joined Wanyama in being involved in the 14th consecutive Spurs game. Trippier was down and needed treatment to his arm, or shoulder, but recovered to play out the game. Son had another chance on goal, but lost control just before pulling the trigger with substitute Mason (making his debut) doing enough to put him off. Amrabat was down twice for treatment after a challenge with Wanyama, and had to be replaced to add to Watford’s woes.
Son had another chance after Harry Kane picked up a loose ball, and Eriksen fed Son the ball. The right footed shot was hit over.
Younes Kaboul seemed to show a lot of determination at the back to prevent his former colleagues increasing the score, and there seemed to be no love lost between him and Eriksen in one tussle. Kaboul had firstly brought a necessary save from Hugo Lloris diving to his left before he had the last laugh with a consolation goal in added time after a Watford free kick on the left seemed to ricochet around the area and Kaboul got the final touch.
The win took Spurs up to third place for a couple of hours, until Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 2-0. Spurs do remain above Man City though, on goal difference, and will be keen to get a result against Chelsea on Wednesday to stay in that top four. Let’s hope it is an excellent night!
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