It was a blustery day at White Hart Lane as Tottenham hosted Watford in a Premier League match with important ramifications for the title race. Tottenham overcame a stoutly bunkered Watford defense and reserve right back Kieran Trippier scored off of a Dele Alli cross into the box as Spurs hung on to win 1-0, taking them up to second place in the table behind Leicester City.
Spurs started a mildly rotated side, with Dele Alli starting on the bench for Nacer Chadli, and with rotated fullbacks of Trippier and Ben Davies. Kevin Wimmer made his second Premier League start alongside Toby Alderwiereld.
Quique Sanches Flores set Watford up to defend and frustrate, and for much of the match that's exactly what happened. Spurs were absolutely dominant for much of the match, but Watford piled men behind the ball and were content to deny passes into the box. Spurs had the vast majority of possession and numerous corner kicks, but Watford seemed happy enough playing for a scoreless draw. Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies both had lots of opportunities on the flanks, with Tripps in particular putting in cross after cross into the box.
That said, Tottenham did start to figure out Watford's defense and started to pick the lock through passing, leading to some scoring chances late in the half, but nothing got past former Hotspur Heurelho Gomes, who had an excellent match. The first half ended 0-0.
The second half started much like the first half ended, with Spurs getting lots of the ball but not finding a way through Watford's defense. Harry Kane in particular had a frustrating day, having no fewer than three penalty shouts waved away by official Roger East, and it looked like Spurs might be set for an unfair scoreless draw.
That changed midway through the half. Mauricio Pochettino substituted Dele Alli for a mostly ineffective Nacer Chadli, and the entire complexion of the match changed. Within minutes, Alli put a nice ball into the box and found Trippier, who one-touched it past Gomes to put Spurs up.
Spurs were good for additional goals, and nearly had more but for the heroics of Gomes who was primarily the reason Watford didn't lose this match by five. Watford hardly generated any offense but did have a few half chances towards the end that made it a nervy finish. However, Spurs hung on and got their ninth win in 12 matches, winning 1-0.
- The entire match changed the second Dele Alli came on. Suddenly Alli was there, making darting runs into the box that was missing from Spurs' game in the first half. His sub for Chadli instantly made Spurs a much better side. Hopefully his first half benching was precautionary and not an indication that there's something wrong, because he's incredibly important to this team.
- Both of Spurs' fullbacks were outstanding today. Davies generated much of Spurs' shots on target in the first half, and Trippier put in I don't know how many crosses today. Thanks to both of them Tottenham had about a BILLION to one edge on corners. Fan-bloody-tastic.
- Spurs' defense was immense today, though they didn't have do to too much. Wimmer was nearly caught with his pants down on a Deeney counter-attack, but coped well, I thought. Hugo Lloris might as well have been playing with his iPod in goal. Watford didn't generate much offense, but Spurs did well with whatever the Hornets threw at them.
- Roger East had a shocker today. He turned down THREE legitimate penalty shouts against Kane that all should've been called. If Harry Kane were the kind of player who embellished and/or appealed to refs to get calls, he'd have had a PK hatty today.
- Almost everyone played well today. As nervy a win as it was, it was also a dominant performance and a heck of a lot of fun to watch.
- Next weekend's match against City is going to be hella fun and a must-watch. I'm already nervous.
- YOU GUYS, SPURS ARE IN SECOND PLACE. BEHIND LEICESTER. WHAT EVEN IS LIFE.