Tottenham Hotspur went into Vicarage Road for a Premier League match against Watford that wasn’t quite a must-win, but was a huge opportunity against one of the surprise teams of the Premier League. Unfortunately, Spurs once again fell short, conceding an early goal to the Hornets. Son Heung-Min equalized the score, but Davinson Sanchez was given a straight red card and Spurs had to play the bulk of the second half with ten men. Tottenham were only able to get a draw in what will look again less like a point earned and more like two points dropped.
Perhaps having learned a lesson from the past few Premier League games, Mauricio Pochettino abandoned the three at the back formation for a 4-2-3-1 to start against the Hornets. Eric Dier was moved into the midfield to partner with Mousa Dembele, with Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen in the back line. Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies were the fullbacks. Son Heung-Min, Christian Eriksen, and Dele Alli formed the attacking midfield three behind Harry Kane.
The first half started a bit on the slow side, with both teams feeling each other out. Spurs had the first real chance of the match seven minutes in after Kieran Trippier, who has played very well in his recent matches against Watford, fizzed a cross across the face of goal. Harry Kane nearly got on the end of it, but was hacked down in the box and slid hard into the post. Martin Atkinson declined to make a call, and Kane will no doubt be nursing a bruise tomorrow.
The Hornets struck first as Spurs once again conceded an early goal. Watford defender Christian Kabasele got free from Harry Kane on a Watford corner kick and headed the ball past Hugo Lloris on the far post to put the Hornets up 1-0.
Spurs tried to respond quickly by pushing forward, especially on the flanks, and as in their recent matches had the majority of the possession. Midway through the half, Kane and Dele nearly combined for an excellent counterattacking goal with Kane putting in a great cross to a streaking Dele, who couldn’t quite get a boot to the ball.
Their equalizer eventually came in the 25th minute, but not without a touch of controversy. Watford had a claim for a penalty denied after Ben Davies bodied into Troy Deeney in Tottenham’s box, with Martin Atkinson waving play on. In the ensuing Spurs counterattack, Christian Eriksen found himself with space on the left side and put a lovely ball across goal to Son Heung-Min at the far post. Sonny tapped the ball past Gomes easily, and Spurs leveled the score.
Both sides had a couple of chances later in the half. Abdoulaye Doucoure had a long-range blast go close to Spurs’ goal, and Ben Davies dragged a volleyed shot just wide of the right post just before halftime.
The match was very open, with the sense that there were more goals coming, but the first half ended level at 1-1.
Neither manager opted to make any changes as the teams came out for the second half, and the game restarted much as it ended with both teams pushing for a winner, but neither producing a whole lot of chances.
Six minutes into the half, Kabasele picked up a yellow card for Watford after tripping Harry Kane on a Spurs break by the midway line.
Spurs’ challenge got a lot harder midway through the half. Davinson Sanchez put an elbow into the face of Richarlison, and Martin Atkinson had no hesitation in sending the Colombian defender off with a straight red card. Just like that Spurs were down to ten men, making their prospects of picking up a winner that much more difficult.
Spurs had a couple of chances even down a man on the counterattack, but weren’t able to take advantage. Kane had probably the best opportunity, but had a shot deflected and easily saved by Gomes.
Watford tried to press their advantage and nearly got their lead in the 63rd minute after a corner fell to Doucoure. His long-range blast went off the post and Spurs were eventually able to scramble it away.
Midway through the half, both teams opted to make their first changes. Watford took off Kabasele, who earlier nearly picked off his second yellow, for former Spurs man Etienne Capoue. Tottenham withdrew Christian Eriksen for Moussa Sissoko.
Spurs nearly had another defensive disaster in the 70th minute after Jan Vertonghen lost the ball and was yellow carded for dragging down Capoue outside of Spurs’ box. The free kick was easily collected by Lloris.
Pochettino brought Erik Lamela on for his second Premier League cameo of the season for Son Heung-Min in the 77th minute.
The final few minutes were wide open and frantic. Watford had the bulk of the chances as they tried to run through a completely gassed Tottenham. Spurs weren’t able to run out any major attacks in the waning moments, and the match ended with honors even. The final score was 1-1.
- Boy, was that frustrating.
- Trippier had ACRES of space to operate in on the right flank, and he took full advantage. Richarlison didn’t seem to be too concerned with tracking back for much of the game, and Trips turned that into a good performance.
- The play that set up Spurs’ goal was very nice, and reminiscent of Spurs’ offense at its best. Great pass from Eriksen, great run from Sonny. Easy peasy.
- That red card on Sanchez was absolutely the right call. Sanchez elbowed Richarlison in the face, and could miss three games for violent conduct. That’s bad, bad, bad for Spurs.
- Hey, Dele played pretty well today, didn’t he? Much improved from his past performances, and didn’t lose his head despite being hacked for 90 minutes.
- Martin Atkinson was pretty bad today, but at least he was equal-opportunity bad. Still, there were three legitimate penalty calls that he waved off, two for Spurs and one for Watford.
- After another lackluster performance from Ben Davies, I can’t help but wonder if Danny Rose might have made a difference today.
- In a vacuum, a draw against Watford isn’t a bad result, but this comes in the context of an extended streak of poor results that started with the North London Derby. This was a game Spurs really needed to win, and they now probably face a dogfight for top four.
- Burnley’s loss helped Spurs jump up a spot to sixth place, but they’re now four points out of fourth place. Time to turn things around, and stat.