Tottenham Hotspur are a bonafide gritty side, deal with it footballing world. Spurs scored three unanswered goals at the death to secure three points away and shatter any pre-write narratives being conjured by the media. It wasn’t sexy, and there was a whole heck of a lot of frustration throughout, but Spurs got the job done, in dramatic and decisive fashion no-less.
Spurs retain the second spot in the Premier League and distanced themselves, once again, from their competition. Chelsea and Arsenal won, but Tottenham scored fantastic results from their other top four rivals. Manchester United and Liverpool drew, the latter of those two sides folding late at home, while City lost to Chelsea in the matchweek’s biggest encounter. Outside of not gaining ground on Chelsea, the midweek results look magnificent in the league table. Spurs are now five points clear of Liverpool with a game-in-hand, seven points ahead of fourth-placed Manchester City, and eleven points in front of Arsenal and United, though both of those sides have played a game less. Spurs are in an incredible position in the league with just eight matches left.
Tottenham welcome Watford to White Hart Lane on Saturday. The Hornets are in tenth place in the Premier League, but are decidedly in the third tier in terms of points. At thirty-seven points, they are level with ninth-placed Southhampton, but only four points separate them from fifteenth-placed West Ham, and seven from seventeenth-placed Hull City. Are they are in relegation scrap? Naw. Are they absolutely assured of retaining their spot in the Premier League? Probably. Unless something miraculous happens with all three of Palace, Swansea, and Hull City, they are further away from relegation then their point totals might allude to. For this, they are an interesting team to play. Will their energy match Spurs? Do they have as much to play for?
The Hornets are a bit banged up at the moment too, but also have a much different look to them since the last time these two teams met. Odion Ighalo was sent off to China in a £20 million pound move, while Tom Cleverly, Mauro Zarate, and M’Baye Niang have joined the club; the former two on permanent deals. Zarate is out with a knee injury, but Cleverly and Niang have cemented spots in the starting eleven and have transitioned nicely to their new club. The Hornets’ bedrocks of Troy Deeney and Etienne Capoue remain in the side as well. Deeney has a bit more competition up front, but is a reliable and effective servant to the club, while Capoue has simply been a great signing from Spurs. He has his inadequacies, that is for sure, but Capoue has proven himself a solid Premier League midfielder for a mid-table side.
Yet he may not even feature! The potential injury / unavailable list for the Hornets is long. Miguel Britos is suspended from the red he received against West Ham, while Capoue, Kaboul, Gomes, Prodl, Behrami, Pereya, Zarate, and Watson are all either sidelined or doubtful for the match.
Spurs are hosting a banged-up side without too much to play for, but that never seems to matter much for Tottenham down the stretch. It is paramount that Spurs continue to perform and not take any opponents for granted. The match is at home though and it is the first game of matchweek. In other words, its a great opportunity to put pressure on everybody else. Look for Spurs to take care of business at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
How to Watch
Date/time: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. (UK), 7:30 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: White Hart Lane, London, UK
Official: Anthony Taylor
TV: NBCSN (NBC Sports Live Extra), Sky Sports 1/HD UK, BBC Radio, Sky Go UK (UK), TSN2, TSNGO (Canada), Optus Sport, SBS One Australia (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
The massive news this week is that Harry Kane will make the bench and has the potential to feature on Saturday. With both an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea and the North London Derby in the near future, this is wonderful news, even if he doesn’t see the pitch against Watford.
Danny Rose’s injury, unfortunately, is a bit less certain. The club has indicated that he is set to return to training by the end of the month, which is definitely behind schedule. Something must have happened in his recovery that has put him out an extra month from initial projections. Our stalwart left-back has been out since January 31st and sadly won’t be fit for the important fixtures later this month.
The goalkeeping situation is in massive question as well. Michel Vorm is out with a knee and Hugo Lloris is still in recovery from his recent illness, which means that the long, lost Pau Lopéz is suiting up for Tottenham Hotspur. If he plays, its a difficult test, but a massive opportunity for the youngster. Lets see if he can swim.
In other injury news, Victor Wanyama is still very much a game-time decision, while both Harry Winks and Erik Lamela are done for the season.
With four extra days to recover, I think its unlikely that Hugo Lloris will miss another match, even with Pau being called up. I also think its a bit silly to start Kane straight away. Another week should do wonders for his ankle and fitness and the worst thing that could happen would be a premature return that results in an injury at home against Watford. That, and I also feel that Vincent Janssen deserves a spot in the starting eleven. He worked his butt off when he came on, had an incendiary assist for the game-winner, and it was simply was one of, if not the best performance from him this year. He should be handed the center-striker role on Saturday.
For all of the reasons outlined above I think we trot out in a 4-2-3-1 formation again. Everything will be the same, save Lloris for Vorm and Janssen for Sissoko. Hugo will be in net, with Davies and Walker at the outside-back spots, and Toby and Jan manning the center-back positions. Moose and Eric Dier will form the double pivot, while Eriksen, Alli, and Son will comprise the attacking band, with Vincent Janssen getting a start up front.
Nobody picked an exact scoreline, and only Alex Greenberg didn’t predict a win. The allure of Tom Carroll is strong with that one. Everything stays about the same in the Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League.
Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League Standings
|Earl of Shoop||16|
Dustin Menno: Watford are pretty crap, and Spurs are at home. 3-0 Spurs.
Matthew Pachniuk: Its either a trap game or an uncompetitive breeze for Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. Really, really hoping that Watford are apathetic for the match, to complement their incredibly injured side. Harry Kane is always on the bench too if need be. 3-0 Spurs.
Jake Meador: The good news is we should have some momentum coming off the comeback against Swansea. The other good news is that one would think we would either go three at the back with Son playing ahead of Dele and Christian or 4-2-3-1 with Son, Dele, and Christian behind Janssen. In other words: NO SISSOKO.
The bad news: We have still looked pretty crap for most of the Southampton game, half the Burnley game, and 88 minutes of the Swansea game. So... I'm not brimming with optimism going into this one.
Even so, Watford is Not Good and has enough points that they're not really in a relegation fight. So I like us to win, esp. being at home. 2-0 win, but more annoyingly nervy than it ought to be.
Alex Greenberg: Britos is suspended, Prodl has a rib injury, and Kaboul has a hamstring injury. Watford barely have any available defenders. Troy Deeney is a legend and will get a goal, but
GN Punk: Spurs have injuries and while the physio room may be getting use, Watford are a full out M*A*S*H unit right now. After getting six points on the road this week, returning to the lane and beating up on a decimated Watford squad sounds perfect to me. 3-0 Spurs.
Brian Mechanick: Son is firing again and Alli looks good, watch out. Bombs away on Watford. 2-0 Spurs.
Pradeep Cattry: Spurs may have a lot of injuries, but fret not, Trippier is here to kill Watford again! It'll be even easier this time since Watford have no healthy defenders left. Tottenham 2-0.
Earl of Shoop: Poor Watford. They're a mess with injuries and they're going to get demolished by our B+ team. Feels like a good opportunity to keep this momentum going after an unnecessarily nervy but awesome win over the Swans. Spurs 3-1 with a goal from Harry in his return.
Salmon Chase: Dele is in God mode right now. Honestly I think as long as he and Eriksen are out their we could fart three goals in day twelve minutes if needed 3-0 Spurs.