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Tottenham Hotspur vs. Watford Preview: Spurs look to win their third straight to open the year

Three points is the expectation with the Hornets coming to North London.

Tottenham Hotspur v Watford FC - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Welcome him back with open arms or resent him for the rest of his (probably still soon ending) Tottenham Hotspur career, but either way, there is no denying that the return of Harry Kane will be a huge boost for the squad. His 20-minute cameo last weekend and Thursday’s Conference League win both emphasized how much this club depends on the England captain.

Thankfully, Spurs have taken six points from their first two league matches without really having a true striker. Neither performance was particularly dominant — especially on the attacking end — but it is hard to complain about two wins from two fixtures that rank in the top third in terms of difficulty. With Kane back and the squad as a whole getting more fit, could this team actually make some waves this season?

Kane’s return will allow supporters to get a good sense of how Nuno Espirito Santo and company will handle matches against lesser competition. Spurs were content allowing Manchester City and Wolves to take the majority of the possession, but the script will look much different against a newly promoted Watford side this weekend.

Tottenham Hotspur (t-1st, 6 pts) vs. Watford (t-11th, 3 pts)

Date: Sunday, August 29
Time: 9:00 am ET | 2:00 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
TV: Peacock Premium (USA)

Watford dropped to the Championship in 2019/20 after a five-year stay in the Premier League; a second-place finish last season made it a quick trip back up. It has been an interesting start for the newcomers, beating Aston Villa 3-2 after jumping out to a three-goal lead before falling to Brighton last weekend. The visitors played a League Cup fixture on Tuesday as well, grabbing a late winner over Crystal Palace

The most notable activity for the Hornets this summer was bringing in midfielder Imran Louza and forward Emmanuel Dennis. It seems like generating goals is going to be an issue, though, and most expect them to face relegation again this season after not exactly impressing last year, second-place finish aside.

Spurs drew both times against Watford two years ago, the last time the teams faced in the Premier League. Last Sunday’s scorer Dele Alli capitalized on a 86th-minute Ben Foster blunder to pull the home side level at 1-1, while the Vicarage Road contest ended 0-0. That sort of result would be seen as a big disappointment this weekend.

Three themes

  1. The big story is of course Kane, but his inclusion in the side means changes for Heung-Min Son and the other attackers. Kane and Son were lethal last season, and moving the latter out of the No. 9 role seems to be the best way to utilize his talents. This is not a match that needs a lot of counterattacking, so hopefully Nuno can find the right combination of players to break down a deep-lying side.
  2. In some regards, Nuno’s first two league matches looked similar to Jose Mourinho’s best results. The defensive formation has been mostly solid, with Sergio Reguilon and Japhet Tanganga providing plenty of value at the fullback spots and Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez much more reliable so far than they were last season.
  3. However, much of the frustration with Mourinho came from his team’s inability to put away bad teams. Too many times Spurs had no idea how to break down a side that threw 10 men behind the ball, and so many leads were lost from needless errors. The Hornets are exactly the type of side that a good team should handle convincingly, and this will be a good early measuring stick.