SATURDAY 8th APRIL, 2017
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4(3) WATFORD 0(0)
Son, 44, 54
Referee:- Anthony Taylor
Assistants:- S. Bennett & H. Lennard
Fourth official:- L. Mason
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele (sub Sissoko, 75); Eriksen, Alli, Son (sub Onomah, 88); Janssen (sub Kane, 61)
Subs not used:- Pau Lopez; Walker, Wimmer; Nkoudou
Watford (4-2-3-1):- Gomes (Capt.); Janmaat, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas; Doucoure (sub Zuniga, 59), Cleverley; Success, Amrabat (sub Deeney, 70), Niang; Okaka (sub Kabasele, 84)
Subs not used:- Pantilimon; Capoue, Mason, Eleftheriou
Booked:- Doucoure (foul on Dembele)
Son humming - Hornets stung!
It was another great day at The Lane in this 12.30 kick-off game. Spurs ran out more than comfortable 4-0 winners, with two goals from Son Heung-min and goals from Dele Alli and another from Eric Dier.
The stats keep rolling off the tongue. This was Spurs' sixth consecutive league win, and their 11th consecutive home win, matching their best ever tally in one league season. Dele Alli opened the scoring with an immaculate goal and as an under-21 player he has had a hand in as many goals (40) as Lampard, Gerrard and Beckham combined. That is an incredible statistic. Dele has now scored 16 league goals this season. He is nothing short of a dream player, and he is playing for a team that today put Chelsea under a degree of pressure before their tea-time kick-off.
This is a dream time to be a Spurs fan, and whilst the Premier League title is still a hope and not a likelihood, we fans need to suck in the experiences we are being given by this magnificent set of players led by a simply magnificent manager - Mauricio Pochettino.
I haven't even mentioned two-goal Son Heung-min yet, and he did score two terrific goals himself; should have had a third when substitute Harry Kane teed him up, and hit the bar with another fine effort. No wonder "Sonny" got a standing ovation when he was replaced late in the game.
Yes, I did say "substitute Kane", and Harry himself also hit the bar in added time with a terrific free kick. He will be looking over his shoulder at 16-goal Dele Alli on the run-in now, and Conte’s Chelsea will be looking over their shoulders at us.
Think too of the players we were missing today. Walker was on the bench, and his replacement Kieran Trippier will not only be eyeing an FA Cup semi-final place, but on this performance will be giving Pochettino interesting thoughts. Trippier's delivery today was quick and lethal, not just when goals were scored.
There is Danny Rose, who we hope to see before the end of this month; Victor Wanyama, who I am sure was announced pre-match as being on the bench, but whose place was taken by Onomah. There is Lamela and Winks who we will not see before next season, and Harry Kane did start on the bench.
Watford were said to be suffering a defensive injury crisis with Kaboul, and Prodl injured and Britos suspended, but in Mariappa and Cathcart they did have recognised players. Perhaps Walter Mazzurri's strategy was to use attack as the best form of defence, because Watford certainly did look lively in the opening exchanges, and exchanges they were, with an entertaining end to end game in prospect. With 37 points in the bag, no doubt the "Hornets" felt quite relaxed about the game.
Former Spur Heurelho Gomes captained the visitors, in the absence of Troy Deeney who was on the bench. Mysteriously, another ex-Spur, Etienne Capoue, was also on the bench, and never even got on the pitch today.
The game was played in bright and warm sunshine. Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane End. In the first minute, Dele Alli advanced down the right flank and won a corner, taken by Eriksen. Eriksen's kick was picked up by Jan Vertonghen just outside the box. Jan hit a shot which was blocked.
Watford responded and after crossing from the right, put Spurs under a little pressure winning a free kick about 25 yards out. The kick was taken by dead ball specialist for the day Jose Holebas, but Hugo Lloris held the kick. Yes, Hugo made the line-up despite his illness in midweek, but Michel Vorm was not fit and his place on the bench was taken by Pau Lopez.
An early effort by Son, who started from the left side, was held by Gomes, who of course had a great welcome from the Spurs crowd. Another shot by Son, this one with his left foot, won a corner. Watford also had another attempt of sorts, but Hugo was its equal.
After 8 minutes, short passes by Dembele and Eriksen just outside the box gave Janssen a chance but his right footed shot was held by Gomes. Niang was fouled at the other end, and Holebas's free kick gave the Spurs defence some bother but was cleared. Lloris then held a Niang shot from the left side. Niang had last week scored an impressive goal for Watford.
A good ball by Son led to a right footed shot by Eriksen, held by Gomes. A great cross by Trippier gave Janssen a chance at close range, and he tried to chest it in, but couldn't get enough strength on the ball, with Watford clearing. Trippier picked up another ball and sent in a decent cross, which passed just in front of Janssen.
Dembele passed to Son on the left flank, and he passed inside to Alli, who lofted a ball to Eriksen, who seemed to be impeded, firing wide and getting no support from referee Anthony Taylor for his appeal for a free kick.
A Dier ball for Janssen was headed out for a Spurs corner, from which Ben Davies' shot was blocked. Son won another corner on the left and received the ball passing into the centre, but Watford cleared. The next attempt on goal counts as a shot on target, but it was weak by Eriksen and easy for Gomes. Eric Dier and Janssen had been the creators of the opportunity.
The much-awaited and anticipated first goal for Spurs came in the 33rd minute. Dembele was having his shirt tugged by Doucoure, but referee Anthony Taylor waved a good "play-on", with Dembele managing to push the ball to Alli out on the left. Dele exchanged passes with Son before he came inside; made his own space, and hit a sublime right footed shot around Gomes' left hand. Doucoure was shown the only yellow card of the game whilst Spurs celebrated. I noticed another good "play-on" decision from the referee later in the game in favour of Spurs, and thought Mr. Taylor had a good game.
Before half-time it was 3-0 as Watford simply crumbled, and were also out-smarted by an excellent Spurs team. Firstly, Son made ground on the left flank, hitting a powerful cross, which was only half-cleared to the feet of Eric Dier, who hammered home a shot for his second goal in a week. Playing in front of the back line clearly suits him!
A minute before the break, Son scored his first goal receiving a ball from the right by Eriksen, and hitting a great left-footed shot past the right hand of Gomes. There was no way back for Watford.
Shortly after the break, more good play by Son and Eriksen led to Dembele having half a chance, but his shot was blocked. Dembele did win a corner with another shot soon after that, after which Trippier crossed and Janssen headed wide.
After a Watford corner, Eriksen showed skill in his own half to retain possession, kicking over an opponent, before sending a ball forward to the on-rushing Jan Vertonghen. Probably quite desperate for a first Premier League goal in some considerable time, Jan took the ball forward, but had the ball taken off his feet before he could get a meaningful effort on goal. Soon after that, Jan was struggling with a knock, but clearly managed to run that off.
Janmaat went on a run and had a shot on the Spurs goal which was blocked, and soon after that Son made it 4-0. Eriksen had fed the ball to Trippier on the right, and Son met his deep cross beyond the back post hitting a rasping shot on the half-volley.
Watford didn't give up, and Alderweireld was up against Okaka in the Spurs box. Jan Vertonghen and Dembele swept up and cleared any danger, with Dembele seeing the ball out for a goal kick.
Harry Kane replaced Janssen to great cheers. Dembele chased Isaac Success (there's a gag here, right?), and did enough to ensure the attempt on the Spurs goal went wide.
The referee had "words" with Dele Alli and Holebas, as Watford threatened the left channel in the Spurs half. After a Spurs free kick at the other end, Trippier fed the ball to Kane who hit a shot, but not at full strength and Watford were able to clear.
Watford fans were reduced to extolling the virtues of their former manager Graham Taylor, who sadly died recently and is understandably much revered by the Watford fans, who experienced their best days with Taylor at the helm. In fact Taylor was in charge when "The Hornets" last beat Spurs in a league game in May 1987, and that was when we had an FA Cup Final on our minds.
Troy Deeney came on for Amrabat, but did not take his captain's armband off Gomes. Deeney had a chance after a cross by Holebas, but hit it high over the Spurs goal.
Dembele was replaced by Sissoko, who had some decent touches soon after coming on. Firstly, he started a move on the right which ended with another Trippier cross and an attempt by Kane to reach the ball. Soon after that Sissoko passed to Eriksen who sent Kane away. Harry teed up Son for what should have been his hat-trick goal, but Son pushed his effort wide of Gomes' left post.
Another Son opportunity was a well taken shot after Trippier's cross. The right footed shot hit the top of the bar. Son was finally replaced by Onomah. In added time, Harry Kane was up-ended by Cathcart, and took the free kick himself. He too hit the top of the bar! 4-0 could have been 6-0 - at least!
As I write, Man City and Liverpool have recorded wins today, but they remain behind us. We await the Chelsea result at Bournemouth and hope that a team including a couple of ex-Spurs lads (Charlie Daniels and Adam Smith) can take something off the league leaders. (Stop press:- Chelsea won 3-1, so the situation with the top four after this week-end's games is "as you were")
Watford today became the second team this season (the other was Stoke) to concede four goals to Spurs at home and away. Our goal difference at the time of writing is the best in the league (42). I cannot remember such a positive difference. This was the tenth game in 44 games this season in which we have scored four or more goals.
Let the good times keep rolling for Spurs!
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