Match preview: Spurs host Watford 

 
Tottenham are back at White Hart Lane after a four game wait this Saturday to take on one of the surprise packages of the season, Watford. Spurs go into the bout in excellent form, having won their last four games, as they look to make it five on the spin back at home. Spurs haven’t lost in ten games against the Hornets, winning six and drawing four. With the most recent win coming only a couple of months ago, after a tense encounter was eventually won by a late Heung-Min Son back-heel.

Despite this good form in recent months and historically against Watford, this game is no forgone conclusion. Watford are coming off a hard-fought draw against Chelsea which they were unlucky not to win, and had felt hard-done by in the previous fixture against Spurs this season. The game was in the balance after goals from Erik Lamela and red-hot Nigerian forward Odion Ighalo, and it wasn’t until a contentious (in Watford’s eyes) red card for Nathan Ake that Tottenham could take control of the game. Captain Troy Deeney was especially aggrieved and there was a bitterness about the incident that Watford fans held onto for a number of weeks after the game.  

Deeney and Ighalo have continued their excellent Championship form into 2015-16 and will present a stern test for the likes of Kevin Wimmer

This game also showed of Pochettino’s capability for tactical nous. Understanding that we were facing a potent striker partnership in Ighalo and Deeney, instead of the more common lone striker system we regularly see in modern football, Pochettino tweaked his formation to combat this. Diverting from his regular 4-2-3-1 set up, Pochettino shifted to a 3-4-3, with Eric Dier slotting back into central defence. This switch meant that Ighalo and Deeney were rarely able to isolate a defender through their link-up play. And whilst Ighalo did manage to wriggle free momentarily to poke home his goal, for the majority of the match their threat was nullified.

This formation also allowed us to see the best of Kieran Trippier, who had struggled to make an impact prior to this game. Being deployed as a right-wing-back rather than orthodox full-back, meant that Trippier had the freedom to showcase his full-range of abilities on the right-flank. Trippier dominated his side with lung-busting overlaps whilst also having the energy to get back into his defensive position. Trippier also showed a surprisingly high level of technical ability, as he sought to take on his man and deliver crosses instead of turning back on himself and looking for a supporting midfielder like many full-backs would. It was also eventually Tripper’s cross from a right-wing position that provided the assist for Son to win the game.  

Trippier has struggled for Premier League game time following his arrival in the summer from Burnley

 That being said, we expect Spurs to line up much the same way as they did at Vicarage Road earlier in the season. Being at home, and being the superior side this may seem defensive or negative to some. But with Jan Vertonghen out injured and Kevin Wimmer feeling his way into the side, it may be best to drop Dier back in alongside the Austrian and Alderweireld to give the added security against Watford’s twin threats. 

Likely Line-Up

  
 
Written by Josh Smith 

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