WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) keeps on the Tottenham trail, this time at Vicarage Road. Spurs surge towards the Champions League places shows no sign of slowing but can they escape the Hornets' nest unscathed on New Year's Day?
Watford v Tottenham | New Year's Day 13:30 | Sky Sports 1
Watford are trending in the wrong direction.
Against Crystal Palace last weekend, they could easily have lost. Yohan Cabaye’s clever run for the first goal was followed quickly by a Heurelho Gomes trip on Christian Benteke. The Palace striker couldn’t capitalise from the spot though.
The hosts could easily have found themselves 2-0 down at half-time and, on the basis of play, were lucky not to be.
A second-half rally was always likely with Troy Deeney entering the field in desperate search of his 100th goal for the Hornets.
It took another penalty for Deeney to get that landmark goal and it was kind of surprising that Walter Mazzarri didn’t start the club captain, instead opting for Odion Ighalo who’s on a dreadful run of form.
Overall they started the season well but have now scored just nine goals in their last 10 league games and much of that is down to feeble finishing from the front two.
Neither Deeney nor Ighalo had scored since 1st October prior to that penalty; instead Roberto Pereyra, Stefano Okaka and Sebastian Prodl have been relied upon.
As for Spurs it’s now four wins out of five. The 4-1 win at St. Mary’s on Wednesday night being particularly impressive. It puts Tottenham just one point behind their North London rivals.
The one blemish on that victory was a petulant late yellow card by Jan Vertonghen which means he’s suspended for this clash as well as Kyle Walker, arguably two of the best defenders in the league.
Toby Alderweireld missed the trip to Southampton due to a virus and is still a doubt to play in this tie too which means we could see a completely make-shift back four including Eric Dier, Kevin Wimmer and Ben Davies. Far from ideal for a Spurs side that have built their recent success on a tight backline.
The injuries are starting to pile up a bit for Watford too. Daryl Janmaat, Roberto Pereyra and Isaac Success all out for this game. Janmaat hasn’t had too much of an impact on the defence since arriving from Newcastle but Mazzarri would definitely start him and Pereyra if he could.
These under-powered line-ups urge me to look towards goals.
Spurs have a tonne of players in good scoring form; Harry Kane, last season’s Golden Boot winner now has eight goals in 13 games this season. Christian Eriksen has five in his last six and Son-Heung Min and Dele Alli both have six for the season.
Slow out the blocks
I pointed out Spurs slow starts when previewing them in midweek. They’ve now scored the first goal in just four of their last 11 Premier League games but have come from behind to win in four of their last nine games in all competitions.
Tottenham to come from behind to win is therefore too big at 10/1 with 188Bet.
Since the Hornet’s first promotion to the Premier League in 1999 they’ve met Spurs eight times in all competitions and have achieved a poor W0-D2-L6 record. I expect they’ll lose this one too but Tottenham at 4/6 – given that they’ve won just three of nine away games this season and have defensive issues to deal with – isn't appeasing.
I have to back Christian Eriksen to notch again despite his failing in midweek. He’s taking pop-shots from everywhere at the minute and 11/4 with Betway on the Dane to score anytime against the third-worst defence inside the top-15 averaging 1.67 goals conceded per-game is a good price.