The fairer result would have been 1-1. Deeney converts the penalty, the late ball slips across the line for the equaliser. Unless you wonder about the first handball shout—and from my perspective the only differences between the two incidents was the time of the game and the fury of the ball that was handled. Both arms were outstretched and both balls hit the hand in the box.
We had our usual twenty opening minutes of ineffectual possession—at least we didn’t concede early—followed by nearly an hour when Watford were the more dangerous side and likely to score—though I felt a counterattack was probably going to be our only hope anyway and sure enough there were several good opportunities before the Pussetto clearance of Lamela’s toe poke with Lucas shooting too low, Dele heading too high, and Son or Lamela missing the target altogether. Our best form was in the final quarter-hour—the introduction of both Eriksen and Gedson produced some actual attacking interplay with Aurier cut loose against a tiring Hornet defence to tee up the forwards with what should have been the winner.
The truth is that this is who we are now. Watford are a far cry from the pre-Pearson squad that lingered in the Drop Zone—they have been playing good football for a month now. But Spurs are no longer the fierce resident of the Top Four that can dispatch this type of opponent—home or away. And they were bigger, bulkier and won far too many of the second balls.
This was a game perfect for Kane (or Llorente), Sissoko and Ndembele—none of whom are available—and a real left back which Davies is and Rose once was. Gazzaniga made the one play he had to, though Deeney’s placement was the bigger cause of the miss, and he had nice save from Chalobah earlier. Toby and Jan were solid—yet there was the one killer mistake with the handball—it just didn’t produce the usual result. Aurier had problems with Deulofeu in the first half but rallied quite well in the second, and was able to generate our most dangerous attacks roaming down the right flank. Japhet Tanganga got a course in wing v fullback play from Sarr—thankfully it never cost us a goal and he will be better next time, though I certainly don’t think left back is his preferred position.
The attack, as always, is the problem. Winks was fine, but that’s all he ever is—and he had a couple of potentially costly giveaways. Dele’s run and pass forward to Lucas in the first half was perhaps the best move of the game for Spurs, but I thought he slowed down noticeably in the second half and was not surprised when Eriksen came in for him. Lucas was simply overmatched physically most of the game and failed to cash in on the one superb chance he got.
I like the two Argentines because of their activity, but the link-ups between themselves and the other forwards were simply absent. Son has not played well since his suspension—he was noticeably double or even tripled-teamed on our left by Watford—they knew who our biggest threat was. I liked the look of Gedson and his inventiveness when he came on—would that we still had a Mousa Dembele to clean everything up behind and allow him even more free space. Eriksen did fine in his 20 minutes—one poor pass, but he wasn’t alone in failing to produce a good scoring opportunity.
Without Kane, Lloris, Ndombele, Sissoko and Davies we are simply not a Top Four squad. I suspect Jose knows that and will use the remaining games to try to mount a decent FA Cup run and see if we can get by Leipzig and into the quarterfinals in the Champions League. The rest will be determining just who should stay and who should go in the summer. Not the season we wanted—but it’s the season we have.
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