SUNDAY 2ND SEPTEMBER, 2018
WATFORD 2(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0)
Doucoure (o.g.), 53
Referee:- Andre Marriner
Assistants:- Scott Ledger, Dan Cook
Fourth official:- Martin Atkinson
Watford (4-2-2-2):- Foster; Janmaat, Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas; Doucoure, Capoue; Hughes (sub Chalobah, 86), Pereyra (sub Mariappa, 90); Gray (sub Success, 70), Deeney (Capt.)
Subs not used:- Gomes; Masina, Sema, Femenia
Booked:- Capoue (foul on Vertonghen), Success (preventing Spurs throw-in)
Spurs (3-1-4-2):- Vorm; Alderweireld (sub Llorente, 81), Sanchez, Vertonghen; Dembele (sub Winks, 86); Trippier, Eriksen, Dele, Davies (sub Rose, 89); Kane (Capt.), Lucas Moura
Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Walker-Peters; Dier, Wanyama
Booked:- Dembele (foul on Hughes)
Direct football 2 Pensive Spurs 1
I congratulate Watford on winning their first four games in the Premier League for the first time, and indeed for beating Tottenham for the first time at this level, at the eleventh attempt. Watford thus join Liverpool and Chelsea with 100% records at the top of the table, whilst Spurs have slipped up for the first time this season.
Spurs had been the better team and had taken the lead albeit through a perhaps fortunate own goal. Until then apart from a few threatening moves by Captain Deeney, Andre Gray and Will Hughes, Watford had been vigorously getting men behind the ball, playing like the away team, successfully frustrating Spurs, who gave Ben Foster little difficulty.
Having taken the lead, Spurs folded, as Troy Deeney (well named, methinks) led his men to a determined fightback, sufficient to give them the lead through headed goals from set pieces, which you would think Spurs would defend better with three very capable centre-backs playing. Those defenders had each displayed their skill and confidence at the back against the likes of Deeney, Gray and Hughes.
Hindsight is easy, of course, but I am not sure about Mauricio Pochettino’s team selection with Dier left on the bench and Dembele a lone soldier in defensive midfield. Neither Trippier or Davies got round the back of the Watford defence enough, particularly Davies, and I felt that the “Hornets” were given a good degree of licence by referee Andre Marriner. That said, the home fans were also irritated by the officials and felt they were not getting the rub of the green with decisions.
Spurs kicked off playing away from their fans and towards the Rookery End, where before kick-off the fans unfurled a massive flag which seemed to depict Graham Taylor with the name of “Gino” upon the flag. I don’t know the significance of the name. Spurs fans were soon chanting “Son is coming home” in celebration of the South Korean Asian Games win, thus exempting Son from the threat of National Service.
There wasn’t too much to excite in the early stages in what was a toe to toe physical battle, but Dele came closest when he met a Toby Alderweireld ball with a looped header which passed over the goal. At the other end, Deeney headed over from Janmaat’s cross. There was comedy from the goal kick which Vorm kicked directly out for a corner, in his failed attempt to pass short to Trippier. At times like this, I much prefer the traditional boot down the field, where Lucas Moura won his fair share of headers, as much as did Kane.
Lucas impressed more than did Kane with his effort, sprints, determination and not a little skill, and was even regaled by the away fans with a version of the former Gomes song. Dele had threaded a short diagonal pass to Lucas, whose shot was half blocked then picked up by Ben Foster in the Watford goal, who did plenty of his traditional time wasting, especially after his side had the lead.
After a Spurs corner on 29 minutes, taken by Trippier the ball was cleared as far as Eriksen, whose shot caused danger in the Watford area, and itself was cleared to the feet of Moura, who fired wide. Lucas was fouled and Trippier took the free kick hot to Eriksen who fired in a low ball to the back post which Dele just missed, but the offside flag was up anyway. After another corner, Ben Davies hit a shot well off the target.
Trippier took a free kick some 35 yards out, which was headed down by Davinson Sanchez. Dele tried an overhead kick, but Watford cleared. After another corner. With Sanchez still in the area, he headed over a cross by Jan Vertonghen.
After 50 minutes, Davies passed inside to Eriksen, who hot a low shot, but it was an easy pick-up for Foster. Spurs took the lead when Lucas Moura crossed from the right and it looked as if Doucoure had handled the ball. Perhaps it was his shoulder, but the ball beat Foster at his left post, as Eriksen tried to get the finishing touch.
Now Watford had to come out and they did exactly that. Gray snatched a shot which passed just wide. Dele released Kane with a sharp ball, and Kane was trying to be unselfish and set up Lucas, but the ball simply rebounded off a defender. Watford nearly equalised through an own goal themselves. Deeney hit a cross which was deflected by Alderweireld’s header which rebounded off both the corner of the bar and the post. Mr Marriner checked his watch to confirm it was “no goal”! It wasn’t long before the equaliser did come after Deeney headed home from a free kick taken on the right.
Seven minutes later it was 2-1 as Cathcart was allowed to head home from a corner.
It was desperation now for Tottenham as Toby Alderweireld was sacrificed to bring on Fernando Llorente. Spurs huffed and puffed but could not break down the “Hornets”’ defence. Dele gave Eriksen a shooting chance, but the ball was aimed straight at Foster. After a corner Jan Vertonghen fed the ball inside the box to Llorente, but he could get no strength on the ball. Kane headed over a Trippier cross, and despite 5 minutes of added time Spurs could not repair the damage.
Now we have to lick our wounds before we face Liverpool at Wembley after the first International break of the season.
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