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Watford 2 - 1 Tottenham Hotspur; Second half floundering leads to Spurs’ demise

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Not great, Bob!

Watford FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

A chance to take 12 points in 12 to start the season for the first time since 2010 went up in flames as Tottenham Hotspur fell on the road to a spirited Watford side by the final score of 2-1.

First Half

Spurs controlled most of the opening ten minutes of the match, pressing Watford into turnovers when they didn’t have the ball. The first true chance of the match came in the 12th minute after a turnover in midfield led to Dele getting a high arcing header. It beat everyone, but was just wide of the net.

Watford managed to break the press enough in the 18th minute for a good cross into the box. An unmarked Troy Deeney got his head on the pass but put it over the bar, keeping the match at 0-0.

Spurs responded by piecing together their own attack again in the 22nd minute. A gorgeous pass by Dele found Lucas Moura splitting the Watford defense, but he needed another half-second to pull the trigger. Instead his shot was busted up and saved to end the thread.

Momentum of the match seemed to go Spurs way for most of the first half, yet they couldn’t get the opening goal to be rewarded for their efforts. That should have changed in the 37th minute on a wonderful set piece play set up by Spurs. Ben Davies roped a pass to Christian Eriksen, who played a low curler towards the far post. Dele, point blank range, whiffed. It ended up being called offside, but it showed again that Spurs weren’t just knocking on the door. They were trying to beat it down, but couldn’t do the job in the first half, going into the dressing room still tied 0-0

Second Half

Spurs started the second half like they did the first: Taking control of possession and pushing forward as quickly as they could. Eriksen took the first shot of the second half, teed up by Lucas from 30 yards out, but he couldn’t get enough power on it and his shot was saved rather easily.

The breakthrough finally came just after fifty minutes. Spurs broke on the attack and played a couple of lobbing passes. Lucas fired a low cross into the box that bounced off of the shoulder of Watford defender Abdoulaye Doucoure. It looked like Eriksen might have gotten a piece of the bounce, but he swung and miss. Thankfully for Spurs, Foster did the same thing as the ball bounced into the net, giving Spurs the lead 1-0.

Watford didn’t go away after the goal. In the 66th minute, after Troy Deeney forced a turnover deep in Spurs’s end, he crossed one in to find a streaking Andre Gray. His header was on target, but could only find the woodwork before bouncing out to kill off the chance. It would not be the last for the home side, though.

Two minutes after the close call, Jose Holabas took control of a set piece for Watford and crossed his attempt into the penalty area. Deeney found a yard of space and powered a header far post, leaving Michel Vorm standing. There was nothing he could do as the placement was perfect, giving Watford the equalized they desperately needed.

Watford built off of the momentum as the match pace turned up a notch. A few attacks were stamped out but you can only play with fire for so long. Off of a Watford corner kick, Craig Cathcart rolled off the back side of the mass of players and headed the ball into the top corner of the net, giving the Hornets the lead, 2-1.

Fernando Llorente came into the match in the 80th minute as Spurs moved to a back four. He had a great chance to chip one over Foster to tie the match in the 83rd minute, but much like the first half, it wasn’t meant to be as the Spaniard simply whiffed, allowing Foster to clean up the mess. Winks came on not long after that for Mousa Dembele, though his impact was minimal in the match.

A chance to equalize slipped through Spurs hands again in the 87th minute. Kieran Trippier played a perfect cross into the penalty area to find Harry Kane. It looked as though he timed his jump perfectly but the headed effort was just over the crossbar.

The 90th minute brought another moment where Spurs could have equalized, but Andre Marriner opted to call a foul on either Kane or Llorente, though we didn’t really get a clear indication who because he ran off immediately after making the call in the penalty area.

The last gasp four Spurs were a couple of set pieces in the dying minute, with all attempts either being cleared or sent into the stands. The ensuing goal kick brought the match to an end with Watford managing to hang on for the victory.

Thoughts on the Match

  • Stating the obvious, Spurs were poor today. There’s just no other way to put it.
  • I thought Lucas’ first half was very good and he was responsible for the goal to go ahead early in the second.
  • Dembele, especially, was not great. Several poor passes at key moments ended attacks or fed Watford into their own attack. Very uncharacteristic of Moose.
  • Subs. Subs. Subs. Yes, we lacked attacking options with Lamela out and Sonny still in Asia, but waiting as long as Poch did for subs is really frustrating.
  • Now that Bobby Madley has retired as a referee, I’ve asked myself who the worst referee is. Andre Marriner certainly made a case for it today with his lack of calls in the first half to let things get out of hand, then trying to make up for it in the last twenty by calling nearly everything. That’s a bad way to referee.
  • Kane was mostly anonymous today, only getting a headed attempt and a couple of chances snuffed out by Watford.
  • This one hurts, but it’s still plenty early in the season.
  • International break is up, with league play returning in two weeks against Liverpool at Wembley.