First Team 19/10/2019

Match Report: Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Watford

By Kevin Affleck

This game can be so, so cruel sometimes.

The Hornets were four minutes away from a stunning win that would have done wonders for the whole place, from the fan on the street to the tea lady, when Dele Alli scored to break Watford hearts. Plenty would have bitten your hand off had you offered them a point pre-match, but to draw having been so agonisingly close to a first win of the season was a real kick in the teeth.

In the cold light of day, when the pain of the late goal and its soft concession subsides, Quique Sánchez Flores might, just might, look back at this as a point gained, another small step towards getting out of trouble, but right now it was a bitter result to swallow. This one hurt more than the missed opportunities against Arsenal and Sheffield United, that's for sure. You just had to see the way the Head Coach booted a water bottle to see that.

A win here, their first in these parts in more than 35 years, would have done wonders for confidence and injected real belief in what the Head Coach is trying to achieve in his second spell. You could mount a fair case for the Hornets deserving all three points, too. A goal from Abdoulaye Doucouré and a defensive performance Sánchez Flores has been dreaming off since he rode back into town combined to put them within touching distance of that all-important three points. The team did so much right, playing with such structure and commitment, so it was just a shame a mix-up between Ben Foster and Kiko Femenía handed Spurs an equaliser that looked like it wasn't going to come. 

Foster was inconsolable at full-time, unusually heading straight down the tunnel to the sanctuary of the changing room. He won't need anybody to tell him about the significance of the mis-communication between him and the Spanish substitute. He wanted to come and clean everything out but tangled with Femenía in the process. It was such a shame as this was comfortably the team's best performance of the season and they are now clearly playing with a distinct game plan that is repeatable and can be rolled out week after week. There is hope, real hope.

They just need a bit of a break, something to go their way and there wasn't much knocking about this afternoon. Not when it came to VAR, that's for sure. The good fortune was in short supply early on when Danny Welbeck limped off inside two minutes with what looked like a strained right hamstring.

Gerard Deulofeu was just getting used to his role in attack and deciding whether him or the magnificent Roberto Pereyra was going to be the target man when the Hornets took a shock lead. Craig Cathcart clipped one over the head of Danny Rose with a lovely nine iron from left to right. Daryl Janmaat took the ball in his stride, slide it across the face of goal for Doucouré to tuck in at the far post. The Frenchman missed a gilt-edged chance against Arsenal a few weeks back but he was not going to make the same mistake against the side from the white half of North London. 

The Hornets took the lead in this same fixture last season and saw it wiped out, so everybody knew the task that lay ahead, but everybody rolled their sleeves up. Craig Dawson stuck his head in the way of a shot from Lucas Moura; Tom Cleverley made a brilliant tackle on Harry Winks; Foster saved one from Ali, headed away another and performed a turn in his own box Johan Cruyff would have been proud of. The first-half all-for-one spirit was summed up by Christian Kabasele and Doucouré applauding José Holebas for shepherding the ball out for a goal kick under pressure from Serge Aurier.  

A near-perfect first 45 minutes as far as Sanchez Flores was concerned should have resulted in the chance to make it two from the penalty spot on 38 minutes. Deulofeu eventually drew a foul from one of two trailing legs from Jan Vertonghen after a corkscrewing run into the box but not only did Christopher Kavanagh wave away the zealous appeals, VAR failed to overturn it either. The team could really have done with a break right then. They had earned it.

Mauricio Pochettino sent for Heung-Min Son, the man who turned around the game at Wembley last season, at the break and he almost had an immediate impact, thrashing one against the bar via Foster's fingertips. The expected avalanche did not materialise and, in fact, it was the visitors who nearly doubled their lead. Deulofeu and Pereyra combined on the break in a fashion similar to the way they did at West Ham in December. You thought for all money that Deulofeu was going to have a crack himself but he chose instead to square it for Pereyra and Aurier got back to take the sting out of his shot.

Still the hard work continued, with Pereyra and Deulofeu both sprinting back deep into their own half to snuff out Son and then the effervescent Cleverley popping on either flank in the space of a few minutes to put out a fire. 

Dawson and, in particular, Christian Kabasele were towering as the Hornets sought to hold on as Spurs sought to up the ante, throwing on Erik Lamela to add to their already potent attacking options. The two centre-halves headed and kicked away everything that moved and looked for all money to be playing a key role in a significant 1-0 win until Alli struck at the death. Kabasele felt he could have won the initial header but was impeded by Harry Kane. He had a fair case. He had stuck his head on just about everything else that came his way.

You feared Spurs might really kick the Hornets when they were down and net a winner but the team regained their composure in a fraught finale to at least leave here with a point. It might prove to be a significant point and it was certainly a further step in the right direction.


HORNETS: Foster; Janmaat (Femenía 70), Dawson, Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas; Doucouré, Chalobah, Cleverley; Pereyra (Hughes 84), Welbeck (Deulofeu 2).

Subs not used: Gomes, Masina, Gray and Sarr

First Team 18/10/2019

Match Pack: Tottenham Hotspur v Watford

As the Hornets prepare to make their first visit to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to face Spurs in the Premier League, here is everything you need to know about the fixture...


INFO

Tottenham Hotspur v Watford
Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Saturday October 19, 3pm BST

OFFICIALS

Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Assistants: Daniel Cook, Sian Massey-Ellis
Fourth Official: Gavin Ward
VAR: John Brooks
Assistant VAR: Lee Betts


TEAM NEWS

The Hornets will be without Sebastian Prödl, Étienne Capoue and Isaac Success, according to Quique Sánchez Flores, as well as captain Troy Deeney who continues to recover from knee surgery.

Spurs will assess Christian Eriksen, who suffered a dead leg on international duty, ahead of the fixture. Giovani Lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon have both returned to full training, while Son Heung-min may be rested after returning from international duty later than his teammates. Hugo Lloris, who injured his elbow against Brighton and Hove Albion, is unavailable.


OPPOSITION FORM

Spurs lost 3-0 away at Brighton last time out in the Premier League, and their most recent fixture at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was a disappointing 7-2 loss against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. The side currently sit in ninth position in the league, having won three matches and lost three, but Mauricio Pochettino remains calm, saying “this type of situation happens at all clubs sooner or later”.


HEAD TO HEAD

Overall:

Won 8, Drawn 9, Lost 31

Last Six:

Jan 2019: Spurs 2-1 Watford (Cathcart) (Premier League)
Sep 2018: Spurs* 2-2 Watford [4-2 on pens] (Success, Capoue) (Carabao Cup)
Sep 2018: Watford 2-1 Spurs (Cathcart, Deeney) (Premier League)
Apr 2018: Spurs 2-0 Watford (Premier League)
Dec 2017: Watford 1-1 Spurs (Kabasele) (Premier League)
Apr 2017: Spurs 4-0 Watford (Premier League)


GOLDEN FLASHBACK

May 11, 1985 – Spurs 1-5 Watford: The Hornets recorded their biggest ever victory against Tottenham Hotspur at the tail end of the 1984/85 season in the old First Division. John Barnes, Nigel Callaghan, Colin West and Luther Blissett scored to put Graham Taylor’s side 4-0 up before Glen Hoddle pulled one back for the hosts from the spot. However, a Danny Thomas own-goal restored the Hornets’ four-goal lead against the side which would finish the season in third place. Watford followed up this impressive win with another 5-1 thrashing just two days later, against Manchester United.


PLAYED FOR BOTH

Younès Kaboul

The French international centre-half plied most of his trade at Tottenham Hotspur, making over 100 appearances for the club during two spells. He won the League Cup in 2007/08 during his first season at White Hart Lane and, after spending two years at Portsmouth, he was made club captain for a period during his second spell at the club. Following a stint at Sunderland, Kaboul joined Watford in 2016 and spent two years at the Vicarage Road, most notably scoring in a 2-1 win away at Arsenal in 2017.

Pat Jennings

One of the game’s greatest goalkeepers is best known for his time at Tottenham Hotspur and then Arsenal, but Jennings’ first steps in the Football League were with Watford. The Northern Ireland international made over 50 appearances for the Hornets but soon switched the third division for the first as he moved to White Hart Lane.

Gerry Armstrong

It was a proud moment for Hornets fans to see their centre-forward on the biggest stage in football in 1982. Armstrong turned out for Northern Ireland at the World Cup in Spain and impressed, scoring three goals for his country. There was another proud moment when the forward returned to Watford, as he scored the club’s first ever goal in the top flight in the season in which the Hornets would go on to finish runners up. Before arriving at Vicarage Road though, Armstrong began his journey in English football with Spurs, making over 50 appearances for the side.


WHAT ARE THEY SAYING?

Quique Sánchez Flores:

“This is a big problem in football, that people think the season finishes in September. It finishes in May and it is impossible to think what will happen.

“We have to think about the finish and how it could be a good end to the season, how we can improve and how proud and happy we will be if we are able to do this. In football we think about what will happen tomorrow. It's more than that.

“We are not worried as it’s not a good word to represent how we feel. We need to be responsible about the situation. We know what the situation is of the team. The work is tough, but we know how we are working, and we are working hard.”

Mauricio Pochettino:

“Yes, I know [Quique], it's going to be a tough game. For us, we are going to fight against us, play against us. Our worst enemy is going to be ourselves, then after it's going to be the opponent.

“I think we were talking a lot, individually and collectively. I was talking with the staff in a very honest conversation as always in these situations, trying to find the best way because in the end our interest is Tottenham.

“Our objective is to put Tottenham in the place that Tottenham deserve to be. In the last five years and a half it has been all about praise for Tottenham, our stadium and facilities as well. It was nice to hear about us.

“When that turns a bit negative you have to listen and work hard to turn things to positive again. We work for that club, our fans want to be happy and they want to enjoy the team winning.”


If you are travelling to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the match, please read all the important information you need to know HERE.