After 90 minutes of play, Tottenham Hotspur had to settle for a point on the road as they finished scoreless with Watford at Vicarage Road.
José Mourinho made a couple of changes from mid-week to his standard 4-2-3-1 formation. Japhet Tanganga made his third start in a row, this time at left back as Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen occupied the center back positions. Serge Aurier returned to the lineup at right back.
Spurs started the match brightly, controlling the ball over 75% of the time in the first fifteen minutes. Passing was crisp and timely in attack but unlocking the bunkered in Watford defense wasn’t easy. Chances by Son Heung-Min and Erik Lamela were half-chances at best as Watford absorbed the attacks, trying to hit on the counter after. Spurs had a penalty shout early on as well that Michael Oliver waved off, but replay showed his reasoning was wrong and probably should have been a handball.
Watford’s best chance in the first thirty minutes was earning a free kick just outside the penalty area after Tanganga brought down Ismalia Sarr. Thankfully, the free kick was wildly off target and found a home about fifteen rows into the stands.
Spurs missed a golden opportunity in the 38th minute on the break. Dele dribbled into the attacking third and played a gorgeous through ball to Lucas. Ben Foster came out of net and somehow got into position as Lucas shot, making the save to keep the match scoreless.
Watford made a hard push for a goal before halftime that saw the initial chance blocked and cleared by Spurs, but the Hornets almost got a huge stroke of good luck as a cross deflected off of Troy Deeney and rolled just outside the post of the goal.
No changes were made by either side at the half while the match picked up quickly. Watford almost had the opening goal of the match in the 47th minute as Abdoulaye Doucoure got a shot off from near-point blank range but fired it into the side netting to end the early chance for the Hornets.
Spurs weathered the storm and broke free on the counter in the 53rd minute as Sonny burned down the right flank. The Korean ripped a cross into the box, finding Dele for a headed effort that couldn’t find the net and went over the crossbar.
Tempers flared just before the 60th minute as Winks and Doucoure came together and tried to take each other down before most of the two sides got involved in a pushing match. VAR checked for a red card infraction and found nothing, so Oliver settled on booking Winks and Doucoure.
In the 69th minute, Watford were given a penalty kick on a Jan Vertonghen handball. VAR confirmed the call after the Belgian was booked for his actions while Troy Deeney stepped up to the penalty spot. Deeney’s attempt, however, was saved by Paulo Gazzaniga to keep the match scoreless with 20 minutes to go. Mourinho opted to bring on Christian Eriksen for Dele Alli in what could be the Danish International’s final appearance for Tottenham Hotspur. On the flip side, Gedson Fernandes came on a few minutes later to make his Premier League debut for Giovani Lo Celso.
Tottenham almost had the winner in the 92nd minute after a break on the counter. Aurier played a great cross into the mixer that Lamela initially got on the end of, but his shot was blocked. Laying on his back, he poked the ball toward the goal. It looked like it just got over the line but was cleared out at the last possible moment by Watford. The goal decision system showed that by the thinnest of margins, the ball did not get over the line. The match came to an end a minute later, goalless.
Thoughts on the Match
- That was certainly a match, I guess. It’s a clean sheet at least?
- ARRRRRGGGGGHHHH at that last minute chance by Lamela. Literally just millimeters from getting all three points.
- I’m not sure anyone stands out. There were a lot of average performances and nobody seemed to step up.
- Gedson Fernandes making his debut was a bit of a surprise. We’ll have to see more of him before seeing the total package, but in his short spell, he showed some good passing.
- I’m happy to see Tanganga get another start, but I don’t think left back is in his future. He wasn’t great there and got burned a few times. Let’s not put him there again after seeing him play well on the right two matches in a row.
- I watched the replay of the initial handball shout and I have no idea how Oliver ruled that his hand was at his side. Sure looked like a handball to me.
- Spurs host Norwich City mid-week for their next match.