Eric Dier squares up to Richarlison and Abdoulaye Doucoure during Watford 1-1 Tottenham.

Watford 1-1 Tottenham: battle on the flank

Both teams targeted the same flank to try and attack each other as it finished Watford 1-1 Tottenham at Vicarage Road.

The same Premier League managers doing the rounds has been a major talking point this week. Therefore, it was refreshing that two young upstarts provided an open and attacking encounter, which finished Watford 1-1 Tottenham at Vicarage Road.

Longer in the tooth managers often identify an opponent’s chief threat and try to nullify it to get a result. Both Mauricio Pochettino and Marco Silva threw caution to the wind as they backed their own team’s strengths in order to win the three points.

Two distinct patterns of attacking play were the result, both focussed on the same flank. Even going down to ten men saw Pochettino continue to stay on the front foot rather than back down and nullify the Watford attack.

Tottenham attack through Trippier

Switching to a back four, Mauricio Pochettino sought to use Kieran Trippier as our main mode of attack. Trippier has a history of torching the Hornets and it was surprising to see Marco Silva concede space to him out on the flank.

The space for Trippier was a combination of two factors. Firstly, Watford were focussed on stopping us playing through the middle. Secondly, the Hornets left Richarlison cheating up field to expose the space Trippier was leaving. As a result, wing back Marvin Zeegelaar was often caught between supporting his team mate in attack, covering the in-field drifting Christian Eriksen and getting out to Trippier.

Space became easy to find for Trippier and he got in to several good crossing positions. The most dangerous of which saw him punch a long diagonal from Eric Dier first time through the box, just eluding Harry Kane.

Cheating Richarlison

Whilst Mauricio Pochettino was trying to leverage the space for Kieran Trippier, Marco Silva was gambling on that leaving room for his primary weapon, Richarlison. Silva had the Brazilian remain up-field, looking for the spaces that Trippier had left by going forward. As soon as Watford regained the ball, they immediately looked for Richarlison’s runs with first time passes.

One such pass from Tom Cleverley started the move that saw Watford take the lead. Eric Dier was fouled in possession of the ball, but no whistle from referee Martin Atkinson was forthcoming. Cleverley then instantly sent it across the field in Richarlison’s direction.

The Brazilian did an excellent job to keep the ball in play. He then drove forwards in to the space to attack the recovering Tottenham right back. He won a corner from which Watford would take the lead.

First time pass out to Richarlison in space beyond Trippier during Watford 1-1 Tottenham.

First time pass out to Richarlison in space beyond Trippier.

The Hornets have a host of players with size and good aerial ability and are therefore always dangerous at corners.

They took the lead through Christian Kabasele as he escaped his marker, Jan Vertonghen, to score. Vertonghen was yanked backwards just as the corner was taken, pulling him off balance and creating space for Kabasele to exploit.

Vertonghen pulled back allows Kabasele a free run to score during Watford 1-1 Tottenham.

Vertonghen pulled back allows Kabasele a free run to score.

Eric Dier couldn’t get over in time on the cover. Harry Kane was left trying to contest the header from a standing jump. Kabasele powered the ball in to the net, as Watford’s routine that had obviously been worked on to create the separation for the header paid off. Shockingly, referee Martin Atkinson had been deceived that all had been done legitimately.

Spurs hit back

Watford had taken the lead through their attacking outlet. Tottenham would hit back down the same flank through ours.

Once more, Martin Atkinson played a part in the build-up. Watford’s hopeful punt over our back line saw Richarlison again look to capitalise. He appeared to foul Ben Davies before the Tottenham man dropped him to the turf. However, Atkinson waved play on.

The ball would be swiftly moved to Kieran Trippier who was free with Zeegelaar caught in between markers. Trippier with time found Christian Eriksen racing in to the space behind.

Trippier in space finds Eriksen's run for Son Heung-Min to score during Watford 1-1 Tottenham.

Trippier in space finds Eriksen’s run for Son Heung-Min to score.

The right back perfectly picked out Eriksen’s run. The Dane in turn played a measured pass for the arriving Son Heung-Min to sweep in to the back of the net, making the score Watford 1-1 Tottenham.

Sanchez sees red

The decisions, and indecisions, of referee Martin Atkinson played a large part in this match. He’d played a big role in both goals, as well as keeping his cards in his pocket despite Harry Kane being kicked around the park by a Watford defence determined to rough him up.

Atkinson’s cards did come out with his decision to send off Davinson Sanchez. Once more Watford were seeking to spring Richarlison in to the space beyond Kieran Trippier who was up the field attacking. Davinson Sanchez was therefore left to rotate out and cover for him. Needlessly getting his elbow up in to the face of the Watford man as he sought to block off his run put Atkinson in the position of having to make another decision. A red card was the outcome.

Both managers attack

In a situation of 10 vs 11 the merry-go-round managers in the press this week such as Allardyce, Moyes, Pulis and Pardew would play ultra defensive and shut up shop, content to take a point. New wave bosses Pochettino and Silva both went on the offensive.

Pochettino moved to a 4-3-2 set-up as he sought to get two attackers up top to trouble Watford. Son Heung-Min’s pace thus became a factor. Moussa Sissoko was then also introduced to provide another running threat.

Marco Silva equally went after the win. Silva withdrew one of his back three and then went 4-3-3 as Andre Carillo entered the match. He also finished with twin strikers as Andre Gray came on for the last two minutes.

Set piece scares

Watford took the lead through one set piece and then almost won the game from another. Once more a dubious decision by the officials was at the centre of the passage of play. The linesman looking totally bewildered as to which way to point his flag before appearing to be talked in to giving the corner by Roberto Pereyra.

Abdoulaye Doucoure loitered on the edge of the box before smacking Kieran Trippier’s partial clearance off the post.

With time almost up, Martin Atkinson would again find himself with a big decision to make. Richarlison was once more was sneaking in to the space behind the advancing Kieran Trippier. Another first time pass out his way found him in space. As Eric Dier came across to challenge, Richarlison’s cross appeared to be blocked by his arm. Atkinson waved play on, avoiding the concession of another set piece in a penalty and keeping the score at Watford 1-1 Tottenham. A well-earned point for both teams.

Watford 1-1 Tottenham overall

Both managers pursued their attacking intentions, content to concede space to the other’s offensive outlets. The mini game within the match of Trippier vs Richarlison played out most of the big moments. Trippier advancing to attack and Richarlison purposely staying up-field, seeking to exploit the space being left by him.

Each team scored from their exposition of the space on this flank. These tactics made for an entertaining encounter, aided by the haphazard and poor refereeing of Martin Atkinson.

Mauricio Pochettino talked of us learning a lot from suffering this run of form and results. The team is currently being hit hard by injuries and the loss of personnel through suspension. I have no doubt that Pochettino will pull us through this. However, adverse situation experience is why the same managers are hired by the Premier League merry-go-round with few teams in trouble prepared to gamble on an untrusted or younger name.

Final score: Watford 1-1 Tottenham.
Spurs MOTM: Christian Eriksen.

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27 Responses to Watford 1-1 Tottenham: battle on the flank

  1. YouShubes 3rd December 2017 at 11:12 am #

    A deserved red for Sanchez…a shame as we could have used his speed vs City…Know you have spoken about maybe going two upfront against teams who sit deep. Is that still a solution…I was impressed by Richarlison.. Strong and powerful. good work ethic and not afraid to go nose to nose with Dier… though they could of been chatting in Portugese…Know we have wanted Zaha for a long time and if Palace do go down we could get him in the summer but nice to have another iron in the fire

    What I could not get was Atkinson viewing the Watford players the way Howard Webb used to view Paul Scholes…but I don’t want to blame the ref, just I don’t want to blame the brave new world book. United was a tough game, Arsenal (we beloved our own hype), Leicester we were wasteful with our chances, and West Brom did Pulis proud (after the fact). Will be interested to see how you think we should line up Wednesday

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 3rd December 2017 at 5:06 pm #

      Zaha is the kind of player that we still need. Additions like him or Richarlison are necessary this summer to bolster the squad, give speed options out wide, but also someone who can beat a player. Zaha is gettable if Palace go down, although signing a new deal last summmer will make his price artificially high. Richarlison would be a nice fit but I think bigger fish will be circling.

      I thought Atkinson rebounded badly from the shocker he had midweek with the Mignolet decision in the Stoke vs Liverpool match. Wouldn’t surprise me if that affected his decision making. The linesman giving the corner from which Doucoure struck the post at Pereyra’s request was a joke.

      Wednesday should see us field as many fringe players as possible and give some youngsters a chance. I’d go:
      Aurier, Sanchez, Foyth, KWP
      Oakley-Booth, Winks
      GKN, Son, Georgiou

      • YouShubes 4th December 2017 at 9:34 am #

        I would play Foyth in the left of a three, with hugo at the helm alongside Dier and Jan just to get him used to playing as part of that unit….with Toby out till spring…seems like he has the same injury as Barkley (hamstring wise)….Though he won’t need the enforced spell on the sidelines four games for Sanchez will have him tearing at the bit to want back in and give him that rest as we come into that dogpile of a Christmas fixture list…hopefully Big Vic will be back and Dier will have to up his game as if Foyth does do a Wimmer did against Palace and showed he has the mettle to keep his spot.will

        the famous Poch high press will go against team that sit so deep…simply no need to and we don’t have the speed of Sanchez nor the reliable speed of Toby’s passing…will have to make adjustments.

    • Daudi 4th December 2017 at 6:27 am #

      wait, Sanchez not available for Cit!!? how now?

      • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th December 2017 at 7:06 am #

        A straight red card is 3 games.

  2. Matt 3rd December 2017 at 2:31 pm #

    Thanks Mark good to see sanity bought to match analysis. A disappointing few weeks; yes, but a crisis? Hardly. We miss Wanyama and I think Dier is better in midfield. Shubes I agree two up front is well worth thinking about for the bus parkers but let’s not discount Son. He’s fast, he scores goals regularly when selected runs the flanks and he’s unpredictable (and yes, infuriating at times). But as a front man with Harry I think he takes some beating personally.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 3rd December 2017 at 5:09 pm #

      Son has looked decent alongside Harry. He certainly cannot play as a lone front man, but as part of a pairing he looks far more useful. He doesn’t have to be the one to hold the ball up or come short, so he can consistently try to run in-behind, which is one of his strengths.

  3. Mark from Virginia 3rd December 2017 at 6:01 pm #

    Hi Mark,
    Great to see your back at it. The Sanchez red was huge and a dubious red that I expect Spurs will challenge. It will be a very difficult few weeks without Sanchez who I believe has been our best player in recent weeks. I think there’s a possibility of getting the card refunded, Richarlison’s arm pushes Sanchez’s into his face – it was a yellow fir sure, but red was harsh.
    But let’s talk about the teams horrendous form! It’s like invasion of the body snatchers – WTF. I think maybe the team is mentally spent after the tremendous effort exerted for the Madrid win. That was the best game I’ seen them play since the the Inter thrashing and they seem to have falken off since. They are doing the simple things poorly which is very unlike them. Erikson’s touch has left the building. I only hope they can get these things sorted soon – it’s not a good time to be in decline.

    • Watford4Ever 4th December 2017 at 12:05 am #

      I am afraid you Spurs fans are totally deluded. Everyone could see it was a clear elbow in the face for the red card and without doubt a case of the ref bottling a decision against a “big” club foot the last minute penalty. Are you really happy watching your team constantly playing to win a foul and then writhing around to try to get a booking every time there is any contact. Very sad tactics, you have players who could be better than that.

      • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th December 2017 at 4:53 am #

        I’m not sure we constantly play to win a foul in the same way that you wouldn’t agree if I said that you must be happy watching your team that constantly looks to foul and can only compete by roughing up the opposition!

        • Keith Selwyn Bogg 4th December 2017 at 10:59 am #

          There may have been Watford sides in the past that were over physical but this is not
          one of them. This season we are trying to play passing attacking football with a squad of technically capable players. That is why a lot of bigger clubs will be trying to buy them in the window. Kane did attract a lot of fouls as did Richarlison, they are both direct attacking players. Kane who I rate very highly as a player on his day would have avoided a lot of the tackles but looked sluggish and off his game, hence he was getting caught. Still cannot believe we did not get that last minute penalty, you can understand why us “smaller” clubs feel that refs are afraid to give decisions against the bigger clubs. Nothing against Spurs, will be supporting you in Europe as ever.

          • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th December 2017 at 5:46 pm #

            I wouldn’t say Kane was sluggish. There were plenty of clear tactical roughing up incidents where players like Prodl had both his arms around Kane to hold him whilst Kabasele kicks him through the groin. You have been playing some good stuff this season but there was a clear plan to get physical to throw Kane off his game and to a large extent it worked. Kane has to expect this now he is a back-to-back golden boot winner and one of the hottest properties in Europe. Teams are not going to let him off easy and he has to find a way to deal with it. Disappointed with your small club comment. If that were the case then we’d have been given a lot more of the clear fouls that were going on and Watford would’ve been playing with 10 or even 9!

            • Watford4Ever 5th December 2017 at 12:18 am #

              None of us should support quality players being kicked out of the game. I genuinely. ( not “manager” ) Did not see the incident you are referring too. We have suffered from some of the thugs in football, our wing back having his nose broken by Andy Carroll arm within the first 30 secs of his debut and not even a foul given!. We have a high energy approach this season which does involve closing players down but actually don’t think we make enough professional fouls compared to our apponents if that is going to be the accepted norm. Cleverly against Man Utd for their fourth goal after we got back to 2-3 is a good example. However having said we need to protect the quality players we also need to clamp down on the play acting that goes on to influence the referee’s and I am afraid the big clubs have perfected this to an art. If it was such a rough game how come none of your players had to got off injured as a result of tackles, only one unavailable is for a uncontested red card!.
              Clearly some things we will never agree on but what we obviously both share is passionate support for our team!

              • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 5th December 2017 at 10:44 am #

                You can see the incident I was referring too here and this was not the only time. Prodl has a reputation for this kind of thing for me, much like Ryan Shawcross. I’ve seen Watford play some good stuff this season, much better than the previous two years under Mazzarri and Quique Sanchez Flores, but this approach was genuinely disappointing.

      • Daudi 4th December 2017 at 6:35 am #

        I’d really like for you to specify which players were writhing to get a decision, Kane was constantly being fouled, and studs hurt buddy. The ref had a poor game both ways..

        • Keith Selwyn Bogg 4th December 2017 at 11:08 am #

          I am afraid Kane, who I rate as a very good player was the worst of the bunch. I though generally the ref delt with your players antics very well. A proportion of your players are currently underperforming, I am sure they are very dissapointed with themselves but not excuse for constantly claiming fouls and over exaggerating injury.
          As a Spurs fan I would be looking for your undoubtably talented players to man up and get back to their best form.

          • Dave N 4th December 2017 at 4:48 pm #

            Hi Keith,

            With respect, whether a player is getting clattered because he is “a bit sluggish” or because it’s a pre planned strategy by the opposition it is a moot point surely?
            He shouldn’t be getting clattered in the first place!
            I thought Kane did well not to make a meal out of some of the fouls against him… unlike certain players who rolled around as if they’d just been assaulted (shortly before getting up and carrying on once the protagonist had been red carded)

            I agree that it was a stonewall penalty at the end, but it was also a stonewall foul on Dier that led to the breakaway for Watford’s goal. Perhaps if we had been 0-1 rather than 1-1, we would not have left gaps at the back which led to the red card which in turn possibly changed the game?

            As others have said, the referee had a poor game for both sides.

            Finally, I think Richarlison is a rough diamond who might become an excellent player… If he stays at Watford and plays games for a couple of seasons instead of becoming a squad player at Chelsea in January. He seems to be getting better every week.

            • Watford4Ever 4th December 2017 at 11:54 pm #

              I think the things we agree on are that there are too many fouls in the game detracting from performances of the more skilful players which logically hit the “big” clubs harder.
              Refs need to clamp down on the shirt pulling, professional fouls etc to let the talented players flourish and the game flow. We will not agree on the specifics from the game,
              both passionate about our clubs which may not give either of us the most objectivity!
              Dissapointed if you think we are a dirty club, maybe clumsy sometimes as was your red card, no intent to cause injury, just “you will not pass whatever it takes” foul, interesting you are not contesting it. Agree with your rough diamond comment, a long way from the finished article but a great prospect. Good news for us is we have a brilliant, professional owner, we don’t need to sell, and he wants to play every minute of every game, not sit on a bench. Best for everyone he gets regular game time and let’s see what happens

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th December 2017 at 4:41 am #

      Hi Mark, I can see what Sanchez was trying to do. He wasn’t trying to elbow Richarlison, more block him off by getting his arm across him as Richarlison has the angle and momentum to go by him. The issue for Sanchez is that his arm goes higher than he intends and up in to Richarlison’s face. What’s more, Richarlison hits the deck immediately, directly in front of the Watford bench who go beserk like a heinous crime has been committed. This, along with referee Atkinson who was under pressure after his huge gaff not sending Mignolet off in midweek, means he immediately goes for the red card to avoid being the subject of another inquiry. Atkinson doesn’t appear to consult his linesman or anyone else for that matter as he goes for the card straight away.

      The issue we have is that the decision was made to send Sanchez off and so the video evidence would have to be indisputable to overturn it. I don’t think it is and therefore I wouldn’t appeal for the risk of adding another game when our back line is already thin and we have games coming thick and fast.

  4. Chas 3rd December 2017 at 7:34 pm #

    Welcome back, Mark!
    The one thing I haven’t seen anyone comment on re the Watford performance was the improved speed in moving the ball. Davies aside, our transition was so much better than our pedestrian efforts against Leicester and the Gunners.
    Spurs were so much better on the eye because of it… specifically Dier.
    My frustration came from Son’s constant and careless offsides and Atkinson’s blind eye to Watford’s kicking Harry all over the park. How no second yellow came out would only be known by him.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th December 2017 at 4:49 am #

      Great point Chas. I’ve not seen the games recently so am unable to comment on this, but definitely something to watch for over the next few games.

      Watford are second only to Everton in fouls per game this season, so i’m not sure why the officials weren’t all over the constant fouling that was going on?!

  5. Daudi 4th December 2017 at 7:11 am #

    The highlight for me was the linesman undecided error, and Watford almost scored from that. I can see the media and pundits bashing us for the performance.. Dropping points and such, we were playing with ten me for some while, just back off. We did’nt just sit back to protect the point, we went for a win, that has to be commended

    Now that you’ve mentioned the merry-go round round managers… It’s very disturbing to see them getting those jobs, Again. More like relegation-avoidance-merchants, and backwards tactics Managers, odds on for Pulis to come back some time in March for a relegation dog-fight stint.

    Totally agree with your team for the APOEL game. And nice to see you back

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th December 2017 at 9:02 am #

      The linesman was hopeless in that situation. Didn’t have a clue. Should’ve given the goal kick if he was in doubt. Caving in to Pereya like that was embarrassing.

  6. Erik Zen 4th December 2017 at 8:31 am #

    Great to have you back Mark.

    Clearly the non-mysterious reason for our drop-off in form is the fact we’re doing so unbelievably well in the CL. Even the petro-rich billionaire teams have barely managed to compete successfully on both fronts over the last years. Seems like a good decision btw, because of Wembley and the ridiculousness of City this year.

    Please let Poch rest Kane, Eriksen and Alli now!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 4th December 2017 at 9:08 am #

      Yes it has been difficult for those teams to compete on two fronts and this season is really another learning step of that for us. Last year we were figuring the Champions League out. This term it seems as if we’ve done that, but its imbalanced our Premier League form. In the long run these experiences are helping our team to learn how to compete on two fronts, but the current run of form is frustrating!

  7. brian 5th December 2017 at 11:14 pm #

    Anather great analsis markAnd yae its great to have you back.On the Watford game,once again we were not at our best.But the Sanchez decision,took away our opportunity,to be more
    decisive in the attacking sense.I also feel,that the standard of officaidom.Is certainly on the decline in the uk.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 6th December 2017 at 4:12 pm #

      Hi Brian, spot on the Sanchez sending off did come at a bad time as we were making a push to get the vital go-ahead goal. It really killed our momentum and meant this run of poor results continues.
      Officiating is on the decline. I personally feel that a number of refs are getting too old now and we really need to bring through some younger ones. I thought the move to make refs professional that occurred years ago would’ve seen an end to this, but it appears not.