Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Watford
Saturdays early kick off saw the visit of Watford to White Hart Lane on a beautiful sunny afternoon in the Capital. Following on the back of the, let’s face it, outrageous victory over Swansea in midweek where Tottenham managed to score 3 goals in a 7-minute window to win a game they were losing 1-0 until the 88th minute, one might reasonably expect that the result today would be a given. But that would be to ignore the ‘Spursy’ way. Their habit of crumbling when the final hurdles approach, as they certainly did in the previous season, and have done far too often in the past.
Watford arrived having won their previous two matches, both at home, and have enjoyed a topsy-turvy season as their table position would suggest. Tottenham would have been delighted to welcome back Hugo Lloris in goal – particularly given the sudden injury to Michael Vorm – and to see Harry Kane back in training and on the bench, especially considering there were fears his season was over when he turned his ankle 4 weeks ago.
The unwelcome news was that Victor Wanyama, also returning from an (albeit fairly short) injury, managed to hurt himself in the warm up. Joshua Onomah, 19, took his place on the bench.
The setup of Watford, with Deeney surprisingly on the bench, suggested that Watford were looking to play a game of containment, however, from minute one this was shown to be incorrect. Watford were having a real push at Spurs, and indeed the opening minutes gave us end to end action with both teams having chances to open the scoring: Tottenham’s Vertonghen with a blocked shot following an Eriksen corner, and Watford’s Holebas with a half decent free kick that unfortunately was directed straight at Lloris.
We then saw the two sides of the, shall we generously say, unlucky Jansen. Firstly, after a feed from Eriksen, Jansen turned his marker cleverly before having his shot saved by the legs of Gomes. Shortly after, however, we saw a potential for ‘miss of the season’. The outstanding Kieran Trippier played a fantastic ball across the goal which bounced up perhaps a little higher than Jansen expected. In the end it seemed that he could not quite decide on whether to thigh it in, or head it in, and it agonisingly bounced off his thigh onto the bar and away…..from all of two yards.
The Spurs fans love this man, and are behind him all the way, but one gets the feeling that, after his 1 goal in 22 games, he is just another Soldado. Hard working, and a great target man, but a poor finisher.
Kane must have been positively licking his lips in readiness to come on from the side-lines watching the chances that were falling to his stand-in. The first half thereafter saw mainly Spurs in the ascendency, just lacking in their finishing. The game was turned on its head though in the 33rd minute, with the first of 3 goals within an 11-minute passage of play.
Firstly, some neat play down the centre from Dembele, who was fouled on his run, saw the ball worked left to Ben Davies who then only had to make a 2-yard pass to Alli by the corner of the penalty area. With seemingly nothing much on Alli opened himself up and hit a curling shot into the top-left corner of the goal. The shot was top drawer, giving Gomes in goal no chance whatsoever, and a special mention should go to the referee, Anthony Taylor, for allowing play to go on and coming back to book Doucoure after the goal for the foul on Dembele.
Six minutes later it was Eric Dier’s turn to score a wonderful controlled half volley from just outside the box. Dier, who had not scored this season until last week, now has two in two, and here he showed great control to hit a deflected ball that pinged to him off the back of a Watford defender.
And finally, on 44 minutes, we saw the third from Spurs, and undoubtedly the goal that put this game to bed. After a poor headed clearance fell to Eriksen, of all people, he passed neatly to Son who, with potentially a better option outside of him, decided to go for goal. In this form who can blame him, as he nonchalantly picked out the bottom corner, again from outside the box.
To suggest the second half was decidedly one-sided would be to do Spurs a disservice. At times players were queuing up outside the Watford area to have a shot, as if taking part in some suicidal shooting practise Watford had set up for them.
Watford, however, did seem to be weathering the storm until on 54 Minutes Son got his 2nd , Spurs 4th of the day. Another wonderful run and cross from Trippier (It is frankly crazy that one team can have such talent in one position) picked Son out beautifully, motoring in from the corner of the penalty box and hitting a half-volley from just outside the 6-yard box that crashed into Gomes’ net.
Watford were not quite yet done, however, and fashioned a lovely chance for Success, after a wonderful flick from Okaka, who then fired narrowly wide.
Spurs went straight back at Watford though. Trippier first with a delightful pass over the top of the Watford defence towards Kane, who had come on for Jansen, who could only shoot tamely towards goal having rounded the keeper, but not strongly enough to beat the back-tracking defenders.
Then Trippier was on hand again with a top-quality cross that Kane just could not get his head to.
On 81 minutes Son had a golden opportunity to score his hattrick. After a swift break Kane rolled a pass in front of the South Korean, who opened himself up and placed his shot just wide of the goalkeeper’s left-hand post. A real shame as this was probably his easiest chance of the day. Still 3 minutes later Son had another, albeit very tricky, opportunity: Trippier, once more, clipped a wonderful pass over the top of the Watford defence, and on the turn, Son lifted the ball over the keeper and onto the crossbar.
It seemingly was just not to be his day, and on 88 minutes he was substituted off, to justifiable ecstatic applause from the Tottenham fans, and replaced with Josh Onomah. That a striker can go off disappointed having scored 2 wonderful goals for his team, but not getting a hat-trick, speaks volumes of the attitude of this team.
All that remained in the closing minutes, with 3 minutes of added time, was for Kane to line up a free kick which he smashed against the crossbar.
The win was Spurs’ 6th in a row, and while most will be waiting for the Spurs bubble to burst, it does seem that the pressure this season is not yet telling as much as last.
It remains to be seen whether the poor win record Away from home will be their undoing, but, for a few hours at least, they are 4 points behind league leaders Chelsea and waiting for any slip-ups.
Written by John Baker
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