In the week, Mauricio Pochettino stressed the importance of Tottenham following up on their 3-0 win over Manchester United with an impressive performance. Pochettino’s main point in his press conferences was that the perception around Spurs’ win did not match the reality of Tottenham’s performance at Old Trafford, as he argued that the 3-0 rout disguised a match were the result could have gone either way. At Vicarage Road on Sunday the perception did match the result as Tottenham were poor and eventually beaten by an impressive Watford, who maintained their undefeated start.
Spurs struggled to create chances against an organised Watford in a mistake riddled first half. Pochettino, in his post-match interview, said his team treated the first 45 minutes like a ‘friendly’ and it’s hard to disagree. To Watford’s credit they made it difficult for Spurs throughout the game, playing with a packed midfield, making it hard work for Mousa Dembélé, Tottenham’s lone central midfielder, to get a foothold in the game, whilst always keeping two strikers up top as a constant threat.
Watford were unlucky to concede 7 minutes into the second half after the impressive Abdoulaye Doucouré chested into his own net. But Spurs’ failed to capitalise and allowed Watford to get back into the game, who struck back 20 minutes later through a Troy Deeney header. It wouldn’t be the last time Spurs were punished by Watford from a set-piece as not long after Craig Cathcart put the Hornets ahead with another header.
Spurs’ were second best in the second half despite dominating the ball. Watford were able to capitalise on the chances they created through two set piece goals, where Tottenham’s defending was poor. José Holebas delivered two excellent crosses, from a corner and freekick, to bring himself level for most assists in the Premier League this season. However, his captain Troy Deeney was man of the match, as the Watford striker led his sides pressing for the entire game and levelled the score when given the chance.
Tottenham will be very disappointed with this result, not just because of the dropped points but the naivety they showed in their performance. It shows a lack of improvement on past seasons especially as a follow up to a great win. Pochettino didn’t cover himself in glory with his tactics either as the three-at-the-back formation clearly wasn’t effective and he didn’t adapt.
If you watched the match it’s obvious Tottenham didn’t create enough chances. Harry Kane didn’t have a shot until the 88th minute, and their defenders were caught cold when defending set pieces. It is a disappointing result to take into the international break. However, Spurs will have a chance to bounce back in two weeks against Liverpool, in a game that will show how realistic both sides’ title ambitions are.