The first ten minutes of Wednesday’s match delivered every apprehension that Spurs fans had heading into the encounter at Southhampton. Toby somehow wasn’t in the lineup, the side capitulated early to that giant of a man Virgil Van Dijk, and the team was being outworked. The confines of St. Mary’s were looking to be as stingy as those oppositional statistics showed and the thought of dropping three points, when everyone else around Spurs had already punched in three, was dreadful to entertain. Then Dele Alli scored, Mike Dean gave his weekly spot kick, and Spurs ran ragged against a ten man Southhampton side for a 4-1 emphatic victory.
With the win, Tottenham retained sole possession of fifth place, three points clear of trailing Manchester United, just one point behind Arsenal, and only four points separated from second-placed Liverpool. Sunday’s opponent is dead center in the middle of the pack of the Premier League table. They have racked-up twenty-two points on the season and are three points, in either direction, of a lot of positions in the Premier League table. Add three points to their standing and they sit above Southhampton in seventh place. Subtract three points from their total and they fall all the way down to fifteenth place behind Burnley.
Watford started the season off with a bit more promise then they are showing now. Victories over United, Leicester, and West Ham, along with a draw against Southhampton are all good results. From November onwards though, their form has been rough. A 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool, with losses to Stoke, Sunderland, West Brom, and a tie to lowly Crystal Palace on Boxing Day aren’t pretty outcomes. Sure they defeated a fledgling Everton side in that period, showing that they can play on their day, but this is undoubtedly a nice time to face Watford if you are Tottenham Hotspur.
Watford are still individually dangerous up top, even if their attack as a whole isn’t too scary. Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney are both atheltic, strong, and excellent in the air. If provided opportunities, they are both proven Premier League goalscorers. Etienne Capoue’s transfer to Watford continues to be a success and he remains their most important cog in midfield, while both Younes Kaboul and Heurelho Gomes are starters in their side. In general, they have been an organized side defensively and shouldn’t be too wasteful in the back, but its their lack of playmakers in the team which has been Watford’s achilles heel.
A win would make it five of six in the Premier League and three for three in the festive period. Spurs have already locked in good results for this manic stretch in the calendar, a win against Watford would make this run an unbridled success.
How to Watch
Date/time: Sunday, January 1st, 2017, 1:30 p.m. (UK), 8:30 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: Vicarage Road, Watford, UK
Official: Michael Oliver
TV: NBCSN, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA), Sky Sports 1/HD (UK), TSN2, (Canada), Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also often at BBC Radio London, BBC Radio 5 Live, and TalkSport
Erik Lamela remains sidelines with a hip injury and no further news as been given towards the timetable on his return. The good news is that Toby is back. Mauricio Pochettino confirmed that his absence from Wednesday’s lineup had nothing to his back injury and everything to do with a virus that has passed, so he should be set to start against the Hornets.
The preferred back four though will be unavailable. Both Jan Vertonghen and Kyle Walker received their fifth yellow cards of the 2016-17 season and will be suspended on Sunday. For this reason, Eric Dier will fill in, yet again, in the center-back spot and partner with Toby Alderweireld. Hugo will start in net, Danny Rose out left, and Kieran Trippier will slide in as a direct replacement for Walker.
By Eric Dier starting in the backline, it relieves any question of who will start in midfield. Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembélé will again be patrolling the center of the park. Even if Poche gets creative and plays three in the back, with Rose and Trippier occupying the wing-back positions, the duo of Wanyama and Dembélé will not change in midfield.
Moussa Sissoko has been on a nice run of form, and even though Sonny scored as a substitute, I think Poche keeps the French international out right in the attacking band. The other three up front are easy to pick. Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli are thoughtless selections for Poche out left and in the hole, while Harry Kane will start at striker again.
In uncharacteristic fashion, Bryan A predicted a 3-1 Tottenham loss and will not move up in the standings. I broke from my astute and unbiased “Spurs will win every single game” strategy and picked Spurs to draw against Southampton. I am an idiot and will never do this again. Joining me with incorrectly predicting a draw were Skipjack and Alex Greenberg. Everyone else guessed the right result, but failed to call a 4-1 scoreline.
Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League Standings
|Earl of Shoop
Dustin Menno: Sonny scores another MIDAIR BACKHEEL GAME WINNING GOAL, Gomes and Capoue cry, Spurs beat the HornetMooses 2-1.
Matthew Pachniuk: The Hornets are satiated on honey and mead in the Holiday season and will be stingless come Sunday. If Eric Dier can avoid getting owned by Odion Ighalo circa last year, then he will avoid Dele Alli taunting, and Spurs will win. 3-1 Tottenham.
Jake Meador: Spurs make it harder than they should, but win 1-0.
Luke Zimmerman: Poor Watford. Even with a hundred thousand dudes suspended on yellows and/or illness, Tottenham's pettiness knows no bounds. 2-0, up the Spurs.
Bryan A: Watford are all sorts of awful right now. Spurs are only a few sorts of awful. 2-0 Spurs.
GN Punk: Watford kind of suck right now. We definitely don't suck, even with the suspensions. 3-1 Spurs.
Alex Greenberg: Troy Deeney gets a goal, Spurs comeback to win 3-1, and I possibly miss the whole thing with a hangover. Happy 2017!
Pardeep Cattry: Spurs will be riding a high after being bad, but still crushing Southampton. Watford have no chance (though Capoue will try to do something). Spurs 3-0.
Earl of Shoop: 2-0 Spurs, and after the clean sheet Hugo punts the ball into the stands where it erupts into a ball of baby spiders. Eat it, hornet mooses.
Ben Daniels: TBD
Salmon Chase: TBD
Brian Mechanick: TBD
Brian Meyers: TBD