White Hart Lane is the venue for Spurs vs Watford as we look at the strengths and weaknesses of Walter Mazzarri’s team.
Constantly in flux, Walter Mazzarri brings his ever-changing Hornets team to White Hart Lane for our Premier League clash. Ahead of Spurs vs Watford we look at his side’s strengths and weaknesses.
Weakness: full back zones
Watford have been conceding goals through their full back zones. The issue is often at right back due to the number of players that have rotated through the position. Craig Cathcart, Daryl Janmaat, Younes Kaboul, Juan Zuniga and Christian Kabasele have all had their turn at the spot.
When Watford operates as a back four, the right back position is the vulnerable area. The defensive structure of the team sees them play tight and narrow without the ball, which leaves space out wide.
Watford have played four of their last five Premier League matches at home, but Manchester United recently exposed the right back zone on their travels. Two goals were the result of getting down the outside of a narrow Watford team.
Juan Mata opened the scoring after Anthony Martial overlapped. Watford right back Craig Cathcart was caught playing narrow on Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Watch the following video snapshot to see the goal and how Watford congests the middle of the pitch with four players. Man Utd manage to play through this bottleneck with some neat one-touch passing. Swift movement of the ball, along with Watford consequently caught narrow, allows Martial down the outside to square for Mata.
Man Utd continued to create chances from wide areas against Watford’s narrow setup, particularly by going at the Watford right back.
Creating the first goal, Martial then scored the second. Again he got down the flank to expose the space Watford had left. Henrikh Mkhitaryan passed to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose quick touch found Martial in space to fire home.
Man Utd exposed Watford in a back four. However, the Hornets have played a myriad of formations this season as Mazzarri chops and changes. For example, when they utilise a back three, the space can often be down their left side. The reason for this is that the very attacking Jose Holebas plays as a wingback and the opposition can expose his positioning.
Spurs were the last team to really take advantage of Watford’s 3-5-2 formation. Mauricio Pochettino used Kieran Trippier to get in to the space left by Holebas and to cross. The result was four goals, three of them from crosses on Holebas’ side.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Watford will depend on whether Walter Mazzarri goes with three or a four at the back. The full back slots are rife for attacking and this is where we should concentrate our efforts.
Strength: attacking long balls
Watford plays a very high number of long balls per match (73) relative to their possession (46%).
A large majority of these are aimed for Troy Deeney. The strong centre forward ranks fourth in the Premier League for aerial balls won per game. It is from Deeney’s knockdowns and layoffs that Watford attack.
The destination after Deeney is often M’Baye Niang. The Senegalese wide man is capable of either delivering a pinpoint cross or cutting inside to score. On Tuesday night, he demonstrated both attributes to beat West Brom.
Watford’s first goal was a classic long ball up for Deeney to win the header. The striker cushioned the ball down for Niang to dribble inside a let fly with an unstoppable drive in to the corner of the net.
The Hornets second goal saw Niang deliver a perfect cross for Deeney to slide home. Watford’s attacking game in a nutshell.
Mazzarri will chop and change his line-up to include another big man, such as Stefano Okaka, who bulleyed our back line when we lost 2-1 to Anderlecht in the Europa League, but the principles remain the same. Long attacking balls up to and off Troy Deeney and then get the ball out to Niang to deliver for one or both of the big men.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Watford should see us look to mitigate the supply by pressing Watford or using our centre backs, along with Victor Wanyama, to challenge Deeney’s headers from both in-front and behind.
Pressing hurts Watford as it makes it more difficult for them to accurately find Troy Deeney with their long balls. Pressure also limits their full back’s ability to get forward.
Manchester United did a nice job of pressing Watford in the Hornets’ recent away trip to Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho’s team often reclaimed the ball in the Watford half. As a result, the Red Devils also won the ball back on the Watford left to push back the attacking play of Holebas and Niang.
In our match at Vicarage Road with the Hornets, Mauricio Pochettino must have sussed this weakness too. We frequently regained the ball in the Watford half, but also often down the left where Holebas was operating as a wingback. Retrieving the ball on this flank allowed Kieran Trippier to expose the space that was available.
The match may turn scrappy. Watford have committed the most fouls in the Premier League this season with 430. That lofty figure is way ahead of second placed Manchester United’s 374 fouls.
As a result of their indiscretions, the Hornets lead the way in yellow cards with 71. Only West Ham has more red cards (5) than the Hornets four. Don’t be surprised to see the match finish without the full compliment on the field.
In light of this, the Tottenham tactics for Watford vs Spurs should be looking to get goals from set pieces, either directly through shots or indirectly by crossing. Watford have given up 116 shots from set pieces in the Premier League this season. Only Burnley (147), Sunderland (144) and Hull (135) have allowed more.
Spurs vs Watford outlook
Spurs are unbeaten against Watford in seven Premier League clashes, winning five and drawing two. In fact, the last time Watford beat us was 3-2 in a League Cup 2nd round match in 1994.
Width is the order of the day against a narrow Watford team. Playing with wingbacks allows us to not only get outside the Hornets quicker, but also to expose their weakness in the full back zones.
To compliment their defensive narrowness, Watford doesn’t allow much space in-behind. Burly big man Vincent Janssen should be preferred up top to battle their physically strong centre backs and get on the end of our wingbacks wide play.
Spurs vs Watford prediction: Spurs 2-0 Watford.