Reflecting on the future
Tantalising poised as we are, five points clear of third with a game in hand and eleven clear of fifth having played a game more, a careful look at our remaining fixtures shows that we should take nothing for granted – not that anyone unfortunate enough not to have been able to wipe the final fortnight of last season from their consciousness would do anyway.
Our remaining league games include one East London cup final (Hamsters), Whinger’s last NLD (maybe), an away game against a manager who hasn’t lost at home for three years (Hull), Man Utd who are currently twenty games unbeaten and three games against teams completely revitalised compared to where they were a month or so ago, Leicester (5 wins in 5), Palace (4 wins in 5) and Bournemouth ( 5 games unbeaten). All winnable but absolutely none straightforward.
Which leaves Watford, whom we welcome to White Hart Lane (“the world famous home of the Spurs”) this Saturday lunchtime.
The Hornets have had a strange season, losing softly on many occasions (Stoke at home, Millwall and 6-1 at Anfield spring to mind) but they have also seen off the Gooners as well as Bully Boy Mourinho’s United.
Thanks to winning their last two games, against Sunderland and West Brom, they lie tenth, with 37 points which given that they gained only one point from their previous four matches will have done wonders for Walter Mazzarri’s sleep patterns. Troy “Tempest” Deeney continues to score most of their goals whilst new boy Niang started well but hasn’t consistently delivered. Watford tend to play three at the back (I think) Prodl, Cathcart & Britos, though the latter was sent off on Tuesday night so they may have to resort to plan B on Saturday. Let’s hope it involves Younes Kaboul.
Pull the curtains please nurse
Our team and formation will depend largely on who is fit enough to be involved. The injury list lengthened further on Wednesday with Lloris’s illness and as I write there is no word on the likely availability of Hugo, Wanyama or Kane who seem the three most likely to make a quick return. All are key but the presence of the Kenyan in midfield would helpfully facilitate a return to three centre backs. Poch only trusts Vertonghen, Alderweireld and Dier in those positions meaning that if Dier is pushed forward to assist Dembélé we have to resort to four at the rear, which is generally a step backwards for us these days.
The Dutchman Cometh
Janssen’s intelligent involvement in two of the goals in Wales will give a huge boost to his confidence and also Pochettino’s. It’s not impossible that he’ll start if we play a 4-4-1-1.
Playing before everyone else means we get a chance to put a bit of pressure on. Winning twice in adversity this week has raised expectations, expectations that barring disaster, should be fully met.
Anthony Taylor is the referee.
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