Editor’s Note – This piece was created on NYE, there is absolutely no way I will be in a functioning state to type anything Today
With 2017 upon us the first Premier League fixture of the season takes us to Vicarage Road as Watford play host to Tottenham in a relatively local derby of sorts. Walter Mazzari’s side started NYE in the top half of the table but there is every chance that won’t be the case when we come to kick off.
They come into this game off the back of a three match run without a win and will look to return to winning ways to make sure their slide down the table doesn’t continue as we complete the first half of the season. Walter Mazzari will also be aware that Watford sunk like a stone past Christmas last season so his job is to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
Boxing Day saw Watford battle back to earn a draw at home to Crystal Palace. In a game where Watford’s mascot made the headlines it summed up how devoid it was of quality but for The Hornets it at least bought a first goal for Troy Deeney in 11 league matches.
Deeney had to make do with starting on the bench due to his lack of form as of late but he would be on the pitch as early as the 14th minute due to an injury to Valon Behrami. That enforced change in personnel gave Watford an extra impetus and when Deeney was presented with a second half opportunity from the spot he certainly wasn’t going to waste it.
Walter Mazzari’s decision to name 11 non-English players certainly raised eyebrows and once again asked questions as to whether or not that can be a good thing for the England team long term. Watford fans will counteract that by suggesting that there sole concern is making sure that their side continue to participate in the Premier League.
The same concerns could not be levied at today’s opponents Spurs who have had 5 players in the England squad as of late. One of them will not be featuring this Lunchtime though as Kyle Walker misses out through suspension due to an accumulation of Yellow Cards
The same reason for absence explains why Jan Vertonghen won’t feature today. His late yellow card after a tussle with Southampton’s Shane Long means that Mauricio Pochettino has somewhat of a defensive dilemma and will be sweating on the fitness of Toby Alderweireld who missed out on a return to St Mary’s on Wednesday night.
Bar the defensive misdemeanours it was a near perfect night for Spurs as they ran out 4-1 winners, they were given a fright when Virgil Van Dijk put The Saints ahead but Tottenham showed their class with four unanswered goals wrapping up all three points and keeping the pressure up on their arch rivals Arsenal.
The big question will be whether Pochettino adopts a back three like he did here last season when they won 2-1 thanks to a last minute winner from Heung-min Son. The South Korean scored on Wednesday night and will once again be pushing for inclusion from the start.
With the other sides in the Top 6 now pulling clear of the rest of the table it seems as if every game takes on even more importance as points simply can’t afford to be dropped. Not only do Tottenham have to worry about catching Arsenal but they also have Manchester United breathing down their necks.
Now that Watford Captain Troy Deeney has got the monkey off his back in terms of that goal drought then he’ll be playing with a weight of his shoulders and will look to take full advantage of a slightly weaker Tottenham backline this afternoon.
If Tottenham are to have any downfall then that is where it’s going to come from but you would like to think that after scoring 4 on Wednesday that there tails will be up for this one and that there will be more of the same from the likes of Harry Kane.
I reckon there will be goals in this one as Tottenham aren’t at full strength but I still believe that they will have enough to overcome the Vicarage Road hurdle. I reckon both teams will score but Tottenham will win and move into the top 4 albeit for a couple of hours. An away win for me.