Spurs v Watford Premier League Review

A late header from Fernando Llorente ensured that Spurs came back from behind to pick up a vital victory against Watford at Wembley. It was a much improved second half performance from Spurs after they went into the break 1-0 down thanks to Craig Cathcart’s header and Mauricio Pochettino will be delighted with the response from his team after recent results.

Spurs were boosted with the return of Heung-min Son and Moussa Sissoko to the starting lineup against Watford, with Pochettino opting to remain with a three man including Jan Vertonghen, Davinson Sanchez and the returning Toby Alderweireld. There were also returns for Harry Winks and Christian Eriksen after they were rested last time out against Crystal Palace.

It was Spurs who had the first chance of the night through the returning Heung-min Son. The South Korean picked up the ball outside the Watford area before turning back inside on his left foot and unleashing an effort, which had Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster rooted to his spot. However he was able to see the shot go agonisingly wide for Spurs, as Son nearly marked his return to the Premier League with an immediate goal.

A few minutes later, Christian Eriksen then had a deflected effort saved by Foster as Spurs pushed for the opening goal of the encounter. It came after good work from Jan Vertonghen on the left who, despite playing centre back, burst forward to deliver a cross into the Watford area.

However Spurs lost their way after a positive start and it was the away side who broke the deadlock. Continuing pressure from Watford resulted in a corner kick, which was whipped in by Greek left back Jose Holebas. Hugo Lloris came out to claim, but got caught under the ball which allowed Craig Cathcart to get in front of his marker and nod home.

It was a soft goal to concede from Spurs’ perspective and was Cathcart’s second Premier League goal versus Spurs this season after he scored the winner at Vicarage Road earlier in the campaign. That was the last major action of the first half and at the break Pochettino decided to bring on Lucas Moura, who would prove to be a catalyst for Spurs in the second period.

Llorente Scores Late Winner For Spurs

Within the first ten minutes of the half, Spurs should have been level through Fernando Llorente. After Harry Winks won possession back in midfield, the ball ended up with Moussa Sissoko on the right. His cross was met by Llorente, who forced Adrian Marriapa to turn the ball against Foster, but on the rebound the Spaniard failed to convert when it seemed easier to score. The dejection on his face said it all but Llorente was yet to know that later in the match he would become the hero.

Llorente then had another opportunity to level things for Spurs. Christian Eriksen’s low free kick was kept out by the feet of Foster but went straight to Toby Alderweireld. The Spurs centre back then tossed up a cross for Llorente, who could not divert his header on target. Spurs later had a penalty shout turned down after Lucas Moura was clearly bundled over in the area by Daryl Janmaat. However referee Graham Scott was not interested and it was beginning to seem like one of those evenings for the home side.

Kieran Trippier and Erik Lamela were introduced as Pochettino desperately tried to find a way for his team to get back into the game. That moment came with ten minutes to go. Spurs won possession in midfield before the instrumental Moura fed through Llorente. The Spurs striker cut back inside and, through a bit of good fortune from a deflection, was able to lay the ball off to Son twelve yards out. Son made no mistake, rifling home his shot into the net to give Spurs the boost that was much needed.

The Lilywhites were not done there and after his equaliser Son and his teammates immediately ran back to their own half to get the game underway, sensing that they could still find a winner in the contest.

That winning goal was to come from Llorente, who went from villain to hero. A perfect cross from Danny Rose to the back post was met by the big striker, who diverted a header towards the Watford goal that did not have the greatest amount of power, but was directed right into the corner of Foster’s goal. Llorente wheeled away in celebration towards Pochettino, clearly showing how grateful he has been for his manager’s continued faith in him in the absence of Harry Kane.

It was a deserved winner for Spurs based on their second half performance in particular. Lucas Moura was instrumental in changing the tempo of the game and Llorente’s first Premier League goal of the season could be a huge confidence booster for him personally as he looks set for a run in the first team for another month given the injuries to Kane and Alli.

The victory moves Spurs onto 54 points, their most ever after 24 Premier League games, only two points behind reigning champions Manchester City. More importantly, Spurs have now opened up a seven point cushion between themselves and fourth place, which is now occupied by Arsenal after Chelsea’s 4-0 loss to Bournemouth.

Spurs v Watford Teams

Spurs v Watford Premier League Lineups

What the Managers Said

Spurs Manager Mauricio Pochettino

“I think we cannot a goal like we conceded, and to put in risk winning the game. I think the first half was difficult to play and we didn’t create too much but it was under control the game, and to concede in the way that we conceded was so painful. At half-time, after we talked, it was so different the second half and we dominated the game.”

“We started to create chances and we played how we normally play. Then you can win or lose but in the end that effort paid us back with two late goals which we fully deserved. By the way I think the effort from the players was fantastic. We are doing a fantastic effort and I want to congratulate them, they deserve a lot of praise.” (football.london)

Watford Manager Javi Gracia

“We started the game scoring from a corner, and after that we worked well in the game knowing they had more possession, and created chances too, but we defended well. In the last 10 minutes we conceded two goals, but it’s a good sign for us that we’re disappointed because we wanted to win today.”

“They changed shape, players and brought on more offensive ones, we tried to control them but it was difficult. We created our chances because in the second half Troy (Deeney), Isaac (Success) and Gerard (Deulofeu), if they score one of those, the game could be different.” (SkySports)

Spurs v Watford Man of the Match

Despite returning from the Asia Cup in the last few days, Heung-min Son was Spurs’ best and most lively player. He looked like the only one who could cause problems for Watford in the first period and deservedly got a goal with ten minutes remaining. Son was desperately needed back in the team and it is essential that he remains fit for Spurs whilst both Kane and Alli are out injured.

Spurs v Watford Stats

  • Fernando Llorente has scored in every Premier League start for Spurs (two goals and one own goal)
  • Spurs have now equalled the Premier League record of most matches without drawing (28)
  • Spurs have scored 13 headed goals, which is the most in the Premier League this season
  • Before this season Spurs never had more than 50 points after 24 matches, they currently have 54

What’s Up Next For Spurs?

Spurs are at Wembley for their next three matches. They take on Newcastle in the early kick off on Saturday before a gap of eight days until their next Premier League game against Leicester. Then, on Wednesday 13th February, they will play the first leg of their Champions League knockout round match versus Borussia Dortmund.

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