Friday, March 16, 2007

Spurs v Watford Preview

Tottenham Hotspur v Watford

Saturday, 17th March, 2007 KO: 3.00pm

Referee: Lee Mason

In early February, it was all doom and gloom but look at how the season has been turned around. We’d just lost to the Uniteds of Manchester and Sheffield and were without a Premiership win in 2007. Martin Jol and the players were receiving criticism from all quarters and it was hard to know where the next win was going to come from. At that point if Spurs had had to play Feyenoord in the UEFA Cup, there was little confidence that they would win. Now five weeks later, the season has been transformed – the goals are flying in, seven games undefeated and the style has returned to Tottenham. They have reached the UEFA Cup Q/F and set a record of 8 successive wins in European competitions, they face Chelsea in the FA Cup Q/F Replay on Monday and are within striking distance of 5th place in the Premiership.

Fulham (a) Won 4-0 Keane(2), Berbatov(2) FA Cup
Everton (a) Won 2-1 Berbatov, Jenas Premiership
Bolton Wanderers (h) Won 4-1 Keane(2), Jenas, Lennon Premiership
West Ham United (a) Won 4-3 Defoe (p), Tainio, Berbatov, Stalteri Premiership
SC Braga (a) Won 3-2 Keane(2), Malbranque UEFA Cup
Chelsea (a) Draw 3-3 Berbatov, Ghaly, opp.o.g. FA Cup
SC Braga (h) Won 3-2 Berbatov (2), Malbranque UEFA Cup

The season just keeps rolling on and its back to the ‘bread and butter’ of the Premiership and Watford who are in 19th place having gained only 20 points. They have scored only 5 away goals this season and achieved one win. Many will remember how unfortunate they were to lose their opening game at Everton when they had two controversial refereeing decisions go against them. That performance had suggested good things to come from them this season but they have struggled since with their only away win at West Ham in February, their only win in the last 6 Premiership games and they have only two wins in the last 18 League games.
Watford's recent form: W D L D W W

While struggling in the league, Watford have reached the FA Cup semi-final where they will play Manchester United or Middlesbrough. Last Sunday saw them overcome Plymouth with a single goal, the same score as defeated Ipswich and West Ham in previous rounds.

Their star player is Ben Foster who is on loan from Manchester United. He is getting plenty of experience in goal and had a competent performance in England’s last game and may well be needed if Paul Robinson is injured for the games next weekend. Their leading scorer is Hameur Bouazza with 5, four in the Premiership.

It will be a pleasure to welcome Watford's Assistant Manager to White Hart Lane. Keith Burkinshaw is sure of a warm reception from the Spurs' fans, many of whom will remember his successful team of the early 1980s which culminated in the winning of the UEFA Cup in his final game in charge. Spurs are looking to repeat that performance in this year's competition.

The game at Watford in October ended scoreless, a significant point, as it is the last time that Spurs managed a clean sheet in the Premiership.

Watford’s last visit to White Hart Lane was in December, 1999 when Spurs gave the fans a Boxing Day present of four goals from Ginola, Sherwood (2), Iversen. That was the fourth successive home League win over Watford after three successive defeats in the early 80s.

Home League Record against Watford: P 7 W 4 D 0 L 3 For 15 Ag 11.

Martin Jol will be conscious of Spurs’ busy schedule in the coming weeks and with the Cup replay on Monday, he may want to rest some of the players. There should still be enough experience and ability in the squad to achieve the victory that would keep Spurs’ pursuit of a place in Europe through the Premiership on track. With confidence high Spurs will want to quickly establish control in the match and dampen Watford’s endeavour as they will battle continuously throughout the game. Some will say they wouldn’t mind Spurs losing this game, as long as things work out on Monday, but I want them to win against Watford, even if it’s only by a goal, as long as they win, and maintain their current good form – it looks impressive:

W D W W W W W .


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