SATURDAY 2ND DECEMBER, 2017
WATFORD 1(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(1)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistants: Lee Betts, Stephen Child
Fourth official: Darren England
Watford (3-4-2-1):- Gomes; Mariappa, Prodl, Kabasele (sub Capoue, 64); Femenia, Cleverley (sub Gray, 88), Doucoure, Zeegelaar; Pereyra (sub Carrillo, 67), Richarlison; Deeney (Capt.)
Subs not used:- Karnezis; Janmaat, Wague; Watson
Booked:- Cleverley (foul on Dele), Kabasele (foul on Kane), Zeegelaar (foul on Son), Richarlison (Dissent)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Dembele, Dier; Eriksen (sub Sissoko, 64), Dele (sub Winks, 86), Son (sub Lamela, 77); Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Rose, Aurier; Llorente
Booked:- Vertonghen (foul on Capoue)
Sent off (52):- Sanchez (elbow on Richarlison)
The 10 men battled bravely for a draw
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the sending off of Davinson Sanchez early in the second half, referee Martin Atkinson will make many of the match headlines after a performance with which both sets of fans will find fault. Watford will claim a good penalty shout before Spurs’ equaliser, and then in added time their fans do not understand how they didn’t get a penalty for handball. But maybe that was more ball to hand. Spurs fans (this one included) were absolutely livid at the fact Mr. Atkinson was soft on Watford, who targeted Harry Kane and any attacking Spurs player relentlessly. Players who had been booked such as goalscorer Kabasele should have had a second yellow card, and one or two others were given “words” in the presence of their captain Troy Deeney. Presumably this was partly because of language difficulties. Spurs had a good penalty shout too when Harry Kane seemed to be pulled down by not one but two Watford players, but the claims of players and fans alike were to no avail.
Mauricio Pochettino switched his formation to a 4-2-3-1 with Trippier and Davies either side of Sanchez and Vertonghen. Eric Dier joined Dembele behind Eriksen, Dele and Son, with Kane up front. Marco Silva stuck to 3-4-2-1. Club captain Troy Deeney made only his fourth start of the season in the Premier League.
Son had a half chance after only a minute, receiving Davies’ ball. Son hit his shot well off target, but was offside anyway. He would be caught out too often in the game, sometimes when he should have been able to see across the line for himself where he stood. Dier played a good diagonal ball to Kieran Trippier on the right and his low cross looked a threat, with Harry Kane the one closest to the ball, which passed across goal.
It had been all Spurs, and Dier had run a ball to the edge of the Watford box where the attack broke down and Richarlison won a corner on the left on the counter attack. The corner was on the cheap side, but when taken by Cleverley it was headed in across Lloris to his left by Kabasele who rose to meet the ball unchallenged.
Harry Kane tried to set up Dele with a forward ball to his right, but it was just too far in front of his fellow England International. Spurs did draw level when Eriksen sent a low cross from the right and Son was able to meet the ball and finish from close range. The next chance came after good work by Dele at the back, passing forward to Dier who sent another long ball to Trippier. Trippier crossed, but Eriksen was offside. Another Trippier cross was held by Gomes.
Cleverley got the first yellow card of the game after chopping Dele, who had earlier been targeted By Doucoure, without sanction from the referee. Two players ran over the free kick which was taken by Eriksen, but hit straight into the arms of Gomes. After 36 minutes Femenia cut the ball back from the right to Doucoure who hit a shot wide across the goal. Doucoure was next getting some of those “words” from the referee, chaperoned by his captain. Next up was Zeegelaar fouling Dele and not getting a deserved card. After the free kick Ben Davies had a chance, but that went wide. In added time, Spurs had another free kick within range. This one was taken by Kane, but fired way too high.
Heurelho Gomes (who has been standing in as Captain when Deeney does not start) got a tremendous welcome from the Spurs fans at the start of the second half. It wasn’t long before Kabasele got his yellow card for cynically stopping Harry Kane as he was beating him on the run and ready to run for goal just inside the Watford half. Sadly, soon after that Sanchez got a red card (his first card of any colour for Spurs) for allegedly hitting Richarlison with his elbow as the Brazilian player threatened to make a similar break to that of Kane moments earlier. Spurs reverted to 4-3-2 with Dier falling back; Eriksen, Dembele and Dele across the middle, and Son and Kane up front. It was a bold plan as Pochettino clearly wanted all three points.
Zeegelaar (who had yet to be booked at this stage) also escaped sanction – apart from the free kick – for another cynical challenge upon Kane. Kabasele deserved a second yellow for a similar challenge, but Mr Atkinson was being soft. Apart from the lenience of the referee towards the home side, another major source of irritation was Hugo Lloris’s insistence on short clearances, which always put us under pressure and after conceding a needless corner Doucoure had a piledriver shot rebound off the inside of Lloris’s left post and fortunately for Spurs out across the goalmouth.
Kabasele was replaced (by former Spur Capoue) – no doubt to prevent him getting a second yellow. Eriksen was replaced by Sissoko, and I have to say he was again disappointing with his touch. He did have one run at goal, from which another player might have scored, but Sissoko failed against Gomes’ challenge. Gomes needed treatment after taking a heavy blow when parrying a dangerous cross by Trippier, which ran to a defender, rather than a Spurs man. In truth, despite plenty of effort, this was the closest we came to scoring again.
Zeegelaar did get booked a for a foul on Son on an occasion when Mr Atkinson allowed the Spurs attack to continue. Spurs won a corner, taken by Trippier and headed down by Dier for Dele, but sadly he was offside. I think it was Trippier at the other end, who got in the way of Richarlison’s effort on goal, heading over for a corner. Capoue also had a shot on goal, held by Lloris. Richarlison got booked for dissent, arguing a decision, and I felt Zeegelaar also should have had a second yellow for yet another challenge. Lamela had replaced Son, and when Dele took his time trooping off it was clear we were settling for a draw. Kane had an effort blocked after a foul on Trippier, and Watford also had that added time penalty shout.
It was a most frustrating afternoon. Now we face three league games without two of our best central defenders – Sanchez and Alderweireld. Sanchez will be able to play Wednesday night’s dead rubber game against APOEL, when he might otherwise have been having a deserved rest. Now that rest comes when we don’t need it. Maybe it is time for Juan Foyth to step up – to step forth even.
The point gained does get us back above Burnley on goal difference. Both Burnley (away v Leicester) and Arsenal (home to Man Utd) lost today.
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