Harry Kane scores a goal during Spurs vs Watford in the Premier League.

Spurs vs Watford: opposition strengths and weaknesses

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.

Martial gets beyond narrow right back Cathcart highlight the Tottenham tactics ahead of Spurs vs Watford at White Hart Lane in the Premier League.

Martial gets beyond narrow right back Cathcart.

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.

Man Utd created chances down the Watford right ahead of Spurs vs Watford in the Premier League.

Man Utd created chances down the Watford right.

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.

Martial gets in to space in the Watford RB zone to score highlighting the method for the Tottenham tactics ahead of Spurs vs Watford in the Premier League at White Hart Lane.

Martial gets in to space in the Watford RB zone to score.

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.

Tottenham attacked down the Watford Left during Spurs vs Watford in the Premier League.

Tottenham attacked down the Watford Left.

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.

Weakness: pressing

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.

Man Utd ball recoveries against the Hornets ahead of Spurs vs Watford in the Premier League.

Man Utd ball recoveries against the Hornets.

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.

Tottenham ball recoveries against the Hornets ahead of Spurs vs Watford in the Premier League.

Tottenham ball recoveries against the Hornets.

Weakness: discipline

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.

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5 Responses to Spurs vs Watford: opposition strengths and weaknesses

  1. Toby4eva 8th April 2017 at 9:45 am #

    Thanks Mark – great stuff.

    Trips may well get a start again today to wreak havoc down the right and provide fodder for Dele’s darts into the six yard box. And Eriksen may get some set piece opportunities if Watford resort to type and play chop in silly places.

    I trust that Victor will be OK to start as he will have to keep Deeney under lock and key.

    We have done this well up to now – as we are the only top flight club that he hasn’t scored against – and Watford has never beaten us in the PL.

    So the omens are good – but I just hope our 97 minute exertions at Swansea mean we don’t we start flat today. The lads will have to be up and about from the off and get the Lane pulsing.

    We may have gotten the Hornets at precisely the right time with their injury woes and they might struggle to get up for this game.

    I’ll go..





    Bench will be interesting.




    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 8th April 2017 at 9:47 am #

      Yes Watford having an extra days rest from their midweek game may factor in to this as well. Interested to see if Poch rings the changes or if we are at all flat from our exertions at Swansea.

  2. Toby4eva 8th April 2017 at 2:00 pm #

    19 Kane
    16 Dele
    11 Son

    Three players on double figures.

    Has this ever happened?

    CRACKING goals.


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 8th April 2017 at 6:12 pm #

      Three players with double figure Premier League goals?

      In the 2014-15 season. Harry Kane (21), Nacer Chadli (11), Christian Eriksen (10) in Premier League.

  3. Toby4eva 8th April 2017 at 2:51 pm #

    Best defence
    Best goal difference
    Best soo portaz
    Best fool credit
    Best bee leaf

    Come on yoo Bournemouth!