For the first time in the 2017-18 season Tottenham Hotspur look pedestrian. The team isn’t in crisis, no matter what Spurs Twitter would have one believe, but the squad looks tired and tame. A loss to Arsenal is bad, but a draw to West Brom and a loss to Leicester puts into question the team’s favored status for a top four finish. At this point, though Poch and Hugo alluded to this already, a title challenge looks lost already.
Spurs have dropped to seventh place, just three points ahead of Saturday’s opponent Watford. They are four points behind Arsenal in fourth place, two behind fifth place Liverpool, and five behind third placed Chelsea. This is the lowest Spurs have been in the Premier League table past August for a very long time.
Just one spot behind Spurs, Watford are having a fine season. Their two biggest results have been a win against Arsenal and a draw with Liverpool, yet the Hornets have been clinical in accumulating points against opponents outside the top six. There is a bad loss to Everton and a demolition at the hands of Manchester City, but Watford has taken care of business in matches where they are expected to perform.
Marco Silva has shaped a capable team that has blended new additions with old this season. Watford’s under the radar £11 million pound signing Richarlison has paid immediate and massive dividends. The former Fluminese man has appeared fourteen times already for Watford, is the team’s leading scorer with five tallies, and easily their most dynamic attacking option. Troy Deeney, the recent icon of Watford if there ever was one, just finished a three match ban and will be in contention to play too, but will probably come off the bench. Watford’s largest signing this summer was bringing Andre Gray to Vicarage Road. While the striker has only netted twice this season, he has made 12 appearances and been a mainstay in Watford’s starting eleven.
Ex-Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes still features for Watford and while the backline has been set for most of the season — namely Femenia and Holebas playing on the outside, with a mixture of Kabasele, Britos, and Mariappa in the center-back spots — they have struggled in defense. Twenty-five goals in fourteen Premier League matches isn’t a stat to be proud of and highlights Watford’s ability to give up goals in bunches.
With the last match of the Champions League Group stages midweek and the game with Leicester only four days ago, Pochettino will have to walk the tightrope with selection. Watford are home, but in games against top sides such as Manchester City, Manchester United, and Liverpool, they have let up six, four, and three goals respectively. If there was a game to reinstate the free flowing football that Spurs have the ability to tantalize with, then this is it. Tottenham look to get back on track on Saturday at Vicarage Road.
How to Watch
Date/time: Saturday, 3:00 p.m. (UK), 10:00 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: Vicarage Road, Watford, UK
Official: Martin Atkinson
TV: CNBC (NBC Sports Live Extra), BBC Radio (UK), TSN4, TSNGO (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
Toby and Victor remain sidelined with their hamstring and knee injury respectively, but Poch stated that Harry Winks is back in contention after his midweek illness. This is good. It was also amazing to see Erik Lamela back on the pitch in lilywhite against Lester.
The good news is that the game against APOEL doesn’t matter. In this regard, Tottenham can put out a team as if they don’t have another match until next weekend. Pochettino has indicated that Christian Eriksen is “mentally tired”, so I think its safe that he won’t feature in the starting eleven on Saturday. Its clear that Poch wants to get Lamela involved immediately, but how quickly. The one thing that is certain though is that with Lamela, Winks, and Dembélé all healthy, Moussa Sissoko’s role on the team will shift the most.
Hugo will start in net, with Poch rotating the outside backs once more so that Trippier and Davies get their start. Jan and Davinson will start at the center-back spots with Dier and Dembélé in the double pivot. Dele, Sonny, and Lamela will start in the attacking band, with Harry Kane as the lone striker up top. Its early for Lamela to start here, so I might totally be wrong, but if Eriksen is sat out, then Lamela can provide that creative influence others can’t even if its only for fifty-five to sixty minutes.
With the Leicester game missed out and WBA finding little support among the masthead in their efforts against Tottenham Hotspur, the table remains the same.
Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League Standings 2017-18
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