Spurs 1-1 Watford
Goals: Dele Alli (£8.4m) | Abdoulaye Doucouré (£5.7m)
Assists: Daryl Janmaat (£4.3m)
Bonus Points: Janmaat x3, Doucouré x2, Alli x1
Interest in Spurs assets continues to understandably decline as they failed to get back to winning ways in Gameweek 9 and a benched Son Heung-min (£9.7m) featured only in the second half.
A home meeting with a struggling Watford side was the perfect fixture to exorcise the demons of a 7-2 defeat to Bayern Munich and the 3-0 loss at Brighton – but Mauricio Pochettino’s men were still lacking at both ends of the pitch.
It does appear as if Spurs’ defence is a big part of the problem as they conceded within the first six minutes of the match.
“The performance wasn’t great. It wasn’t great, but again when you concede an early goal of course in the momentum of the team it’s always tough. Of course, it’s a difficult situation because when you want to build your confidence again and be solid and to have the calm to play, because you always need to be calm to play, we started to take rash decisions.” – Mauricio Pochettino
Pochettino had lined up with a back-three, consisting of Jan Vertonghen (£5.3m), Davinson Sánchez (£5.4m) and Toby Alderweireld (£5.5m), with Danny Rose (£5.4m) and Serge Aurier (£4.9m) on the flanks.
Perhaps this is why Watford found it too easy to get around the back of Spurs’ defence so early on, with wing-back Daryl Janmaat (£4.3m) getting past Rose and having the time to play in a perfect cross for the onrushing Abdoulaye Doucouré (£5.7m) to score largely unchallenged.
To put that goal into the context of Watford’s own difficult season, it was just the second time they had found the net away from home in the Premier League in 2019/20 – a further indictment of the Spurs defence.
Admittedly, the beginning of this match was a little unorthodox. Danny Welbeck (£5.9m) went down with a hamstring problem inside the first 90 seconds and required lengthy treatment so that when he finally left the field in the fourth minute, it was as if the game had started again.
“During the week he was good. He didn’t complain about anything and our feeling with him was really good, but the ankle is uncomfortable.” – Quique Sanchez Flores
However, Spurs can hardly use this as an excuse, as the Hornets were not knocked off-kilter by having to bring Gerard Deulofeu (£6.1m) onto the field and tweak their attacking system.
With Spurs’ defence in such bad shape of late, those invested in the Liverpool attack will perhaps be licking their lips for Gameweek 10.
Pochettino’s men must travel to Anfield on Sunday afternoon to face the second-best attack in the Premier League and on the evidence of the last few weeks, that should result in plenty of opportunities for Mohamed Salah (£12.4m) and Sadio Mané (£11.8m).
As much as Spurs were suspect at the back against Watford, they also seemed largely devoid of ideas going forward.
Despite recent displays, both Son and Erik Lamela (£6.0m) found themselves on the bench while Christian Eriksen (£8.8m) missed out through injury (dead leg).
Dele Alli (£8.4m) and Lucas Moura (£7.1m) were deployed behind Harry Kane (£10.9m) in 3-4-2-1 formation but neither one of them troubled Ben Foster (£4.8m) in the first half. That said, Kane owners might feel a bit aggrieved not to see Spurs awarded a penalty for Roberto Pereyra‘s (£5.7m) foul on Rose in the penalty box.
Pochettino did change things around at half-time, moving away from the three-man defence to bring Son on and switch to a more attacking formation, Sánchez making way.
“We thought there was going to be two strikers. In the end, it was [Roberto] Pereyra and at the beginning [Danny] Welbeck and some space on the side. In the beginning, they didn’t do that well enough, and of course we were 1-0 down, so we put another striker on and I think from that moment we pushed them and especially at the end of the second half we put them under pressure. Then I think if we had scored a little earlier…” – Toby Alderweireld
The South Korean did add some energy and urgency to Spurs’ attack, forcing Foster to tip a fierce shot onto the crossbar.
That was, by far, Spurs’ best chance to equalise and it must be said that when they eventually pulled level, there was an element of fortune about the goal.
Foster and substitute Kiko Femenía (£4.3m) got in each other’s way when attempting to deal with a loose ball in the Watford penalty area, allowing Alli to pounce.
He controlled the ball with his shoulder, as confirmed by a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) check, and slotted home with ease.
However, without the stroke of luck that fell Spurs’ way, they perhaps would not have scored on Saturday afternoon.
It does seem clear that the defensive issues are hindering the side’s ability to attack with confidence. Until the back-line can improve, they are likely to hold back the Fantasy potential of Kane, Son and the like.
In light of recent results, conceding an early goal naturally made for a less than conducive atmosphere at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Pochettino himself mentioned after the match that, while he understood the fans’ frustration, it did make life harder for his team.
It will certainly be interesting to see what the reaction to these comments will be from the supporters.
“We were nervous. Of course, the atmosphere wasn’t in the way that you love to play in and it wasn’t the best. I understand of course the fans and everyone. It’s not easy. I was a professional player in this type of situation and it is so difficult to play. Of course, Watford defended well and were very strong, never gave the space to us to be clear and have chances to score.” – Mauricio Pochettino
Whether Spurs can break out of the rut they are in may well depend on how they perform against Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday evening, as they really need to get a positive result in front of their own supporters.
However, their upcoming schedule, although daunting and discouraging from an FPL perspective, could be the key to easing the pressure on the players and manager.
Three of their next four Premier League matches are on the road, Liverpool up next before Everton (Gameweek 11) and West Ham (Gameweek 13) host Pochettino’s men.
Sometimes, teams such as Spurs, especially in their present condition, might benefit from some prolonged time away from a frustrated atmosphere at home.
No player registered more attacking returns away from home than Kane last season, so it is possible that he could help them in that respect.
However, it is still hard to guarantee that Spurs will become a viable FPL side any time soon, given that they are yet to show improvement either in defence or attack.
By contrast, it must be highlighted that there are continued improvements from Watford.
After losing five of their first seven matches this season, the Hornets are now unbeaten in two.
From Gameweek 8 onwards they have now conceded just once and, as already mentioned, it was not exactly something Quique Sanchez Flores could have legislated for.
For the second match in a row, the Watford manager went with a back-three, which appeared to have the desired effect once again, his side going very close to back-to-back clean sheets.
After Sebastien Prödl‘s (£4.0m) hamstring injury against Sheffield United, Craig Dawson (£4.8m) played between Christian Kabasele (£4.3m) and Craig Cathcart (£4.4m).
“We’ve had a good week’s training, the lads have shown lots of effort in training and worked really hard and you could see that in today’s performance. As a team, the confidence has grown from today and hopefully, we can take that into the next game.” – Craig Dawson
Whether Watford can add to their clean sheet count in the coming weeks probably still remains somewhat unlikely as they have Bournemouth (home), Chelsea (home), Norwich (away) and Burnley (home) coming up, but it is worth Fantasy managers knowing that they may not be quite the whipping boys we thought they were a few weeks ago.
“Little by little we are (building) the philosophy with the players and little by little we are becoming more competitive. We need to win and today we were close, with the circumstances of the match and the opportunities we had, so it’s a pity that we couldn’t get the three points.” – Quique Sanchez Flores
Fantasy managers may also want to keep an eye on Janmaat, who got a 12-point haul in Gameweek 9.
That came from an assist, a clean sheet and maximum bonus, as the former Newcastle defender came off injured before Spurs’ late equaliser.
If Janmaat can shirk that yellow flag then his price, Watford’s slightly improved defensive prospects and his more advanced role as a wing-back in the new 3-5-2 system, could bring him into consideration.
Meanwhile, left-back Jose Holebas (£4.7m), who remains on set pieces but is a little more expensive, is now suspended for one match having picked up his fifth yellow card of the season at Spurs.
As already mentioned, there were chances for Watford to win this match, with both Deulofeu and Pereyra causing problems in a two-man strike pairing.
The former probably should have been awarded a penalty in the second half after Vertonghen fouled him.
Deulofeu was able to get around the back of Spurs’ defence on more than one occasion, going well clear in the second half.
It took a last-ditch sliding block from Aurier to deny Pereyra after Deulofeu had squared him the ball.
“We don’t deserve this with this group of players, we have trained well and we showed today what we can do. We have to fight because it’s a long time without a win in the Premier League and today we deserved the three points. It’s a really good point at this type of stadium, but if you see the highlights or the whole game you see that we could have got the three points.” – Gerard Deulofeu
Tottenham Hotspur XI (3-4-2-1): Gazzaniga; Vertonghen, D Sánchez (Son 46′), Alderweireld; Rose, Winks (Ndombele 70′), Sissoko, Aurier; Alli, Moura (Lamela 63′); Kane.
Watford XI (3-5-2): Foster; Cathcart, Dawson, Kabasele, Janmaat (Kiko Femenía 71′); Holebas, Doucouré, Chalobah, Cleverley, Janmaat; Pereyra (Hughes 84′), Welbeck (Deulofeu 4′).