Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
Just a few months ago, this match would have been all but a foregone conclusion before it even kicked off. Watford, who won just one of their first seventeen matches, have seemed marked for relegation for most of this season – but after winning four of their last five, they sit outside of the bottom three and are – Liverpool aside – pretty much the league’s form team. Credit new boss Nigel Pearson for the almost 180-degree change.
Spurs, too, come into the game with a different manager than the one with whom they opened the season. Having chosen to remove Mauricio Pochettino, the North London side reacted quickly to install Jose Mourinho. Many people felt this decision had been vindicated when Mourinho’s Spurs won their first two games; however, those games were against West Ham and Bournemouth, and Spurs have since had difficulty beating opponents that are actually any good. How will they fare against an in-form Watford?
Watford vs Tottenham Hotspur Prediction: Watford 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
It may seem provocative to back Watford for the win against a side who, form notwithstanding, sit nine places above them in the Premier League table as of this moment. However, momentum is important – as is a midweek without a game. Watford have had that luxury, while Spurs found themselves bogged down in an FA Cup tie with Middlesbrough that started out well enough before becoming attritional. Under Pearson, the Hornets are a side transformed, and they more than deserve to be taken seriously here.
Our recommended tip: Watford & BTTS
With a squad as talented as that before him, Jose Mourinho should have won more than half of his ten league games as Spurs boss, and certainly more than one of his last five. Perhaps he needs time and the chance to stamp his mark on the team, but it seems unlikely that he’ll have done that by Saturday lunchtime, although the loan signing of Benfica’s Gedson Fernandes is a positive start. With Betway offering 7/2 on a home win and both sides to get on the scoresheet, it’s hard not to be tempted; Watford are carrying an energy that is often telling in early kick-off matches.
The 1-1 draw that happened the last time these sides met came amid a five-game winless run that would eventually claim Pochettino’s job. Watford, at the time, were rock-bottom in the Premier League and not fancied to get anything at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. However, they took the lead on six minutes through Abdoulaye Doucoure, and would hold on to it for the next eighty. With time rapidly running out, a late Dele Alli equaliser secured a point for the hosts. It wasn’t a good result for Spurs, but it could have been a lot worse.
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Players to watch: Troy Deeney & Toby Alderweireld
Although Deeney’s three-month absence through injury was not the only reason Watford struggled through the first half of the season, it’s fortuitous that his return and Pearson’s appointment happened so close together. The striker is fiercely committed to his club, and his exceptional work rate is underpinned by a bravery that has made the player a fans’ favourite. Even allowing for an absence that spanned an entire autumn, Deeney leads Watford’s scoring charts with four – but his overall contribution is much greater than that.
If we’re speaking of nuggety, awkward customers, then Alderweireld merits a mention in the heart of the Tottenham defence. As close to an old-fashioned centre-half as the laws of the game allow a player to be, the Belgian has been a stalwart for club and country for some years now – and if anyone is prepared to go toe-to-toe with Deeney, then it’s him. Alderweireld also carries a level of experience unmatched by his likely defensive partners here, so will be expected to offer leadership on top of his technical qualities.