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Matchday review

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Fri 23 Feb At 16.02 PM

Highlights | Watford 1-1 Tottenham

  • Watford take the lead through Christian Kabasele
  • Son Heung-min levels for Spurs
  • Davinson Sanchez sent off for an arm in the face of Richarlison
  • Abdoulaye Doucouré cracks the post
  • Watford still without a win against Spurs in the Premier League

And so this compelling season continues, thrilling, never dull, with twists and turns and thrills and spills in every match. In the end, after another action-packed, rock and roll game the watching Elton John would have loved, Watford have another point, another to add to their quest to root themselves in the top eight.
 
Yes, the Golden Boys played for nearly half the match against ten men and the expectation was they would go on to win the match after Davinson Sanchez was sent off, but points against Tottenham Hotspur are hard earned these days and not to be sneezed at. Just ask the Hornets' teams of the last two seasons who have been soundly beaten four times by Spurs and handed footballing lessons, so this represented genuine progress.
 
The fact many Hornets fans left here disappointed with a point against a side who have beaten Real Madrid this season was a measure of how far this team have come in such a short space of time.
 
The Golden Boys gave it everything, particularly in a grandstand finale, and the fact Marco Silva threw on Etienne Capouè, Andrè Carrillo and Andre Gray showed you how much the Head Coach wanted to win it. He wasn’t settling for a point, that’s for sure.

There was again much to admire about this performance which was so full of shape, structure and energy. Watford weren’t quite as free flowing going forward as they have been in recent weeks but, on the flipside, they weren’t so open at the back, something which can cost you dear against this free-running Spurs side. Watford are learning and learning quick. The lessons of the defeat to Manchester United had been absorbed.
 
Watford had, yet again, come to play and slug it out with one of the big boys. Only three points separated these sides before the game – a sign of just how far Watford had progressed and how Spurs have dipped a bit – and there was little to choose between them in the opening stages.
 
Kieran Trippier, who had such a buccaneering game here last season, was at it again early on, flashing one across the face of goal which Harry Kane failed by a whisker to get on the end of. A warning shot had been fired.
 
It woke Watford up and they ended up scoring from their first corner and their first attempt on goal. Before getting to the goal, it’s worth noting the raking crossfield pass Tom Cleverley played to Richarlison in the build-up. From there it was all about the delivery from Cleverley and the movement and aerial prowess from Christian Kabasele who eluded Kane, no less, to plant his header in the far corner. The Belgian is really flourishing and growing in stature in his second season with the club.
 
Watford had their noses in front and were now up and running. You had Troy Deeney, Cleverely and Doucourè snapping into tackles in one passage of play as the intensity stepped up. It was a case of one for all and all for one.
 
You always feared, though, that Spurs had another gear, that they were a threat down the flank and so it proved on 25 minutes. Trippier played in Christian Eriksen in the space between the left-back and the left centre-half and the Dane crossed for Son to have the simplest of tasks at the far post.
 
The teams jabbed and jousted for the remainder of the half with neither side looking like delivering the next telling blow. Doucourè came the closest, fizzing a howitzer just past the far post.

Former teammates Trippier and Gray embrace at full-time

The game exploded to life seven minutes after the break when Sanchez was shown a straight red card for clothes-lining Richarlison as the Brazilian attempted to muscle his way past him. The Hornets’ bench was incensed at the challenge and Martin Atkinson had no hesitation in brandishing the red.
 
It was now very much advantage Watford, an advantage they almost made count on 63 minutes when Doucourè, showing outstanding technique, cracked one off the inside of the right-hand post and saw it cannon out. Hugo Lloris didn’t see the rebound let alone the first strike. It would have been the goal of this or indeed any season had it gone in.
 
When Heurelho Gomes went down in some pain after being caught inadvertently by the boot of Adrian Mariappa it just added to the drama. For a minute it looked like Orestis Karnezis was going to be summoned into emergency action but Watford’s battle-hardened No 1 soldiered on. Watford were grateful he did.
 
Mariappa, who had another smashing game at centre-half, keeping Kane quiet, was at his sharpest to stop attacks from either side, including an intercepting to prevent a pass reaching the unmarked Son and then following that up with a perfectly-timed tackle on Serge Aurier on the other side. He really is at the top of his game right now and he needed to be as Spurs certainly weren’t sitting back and playing for a point. The introduction of Erik Lamela demonstrated that.
 
But it was Watford who pushed the hardest. They had five men in the box from several crosses while you had Marvin Zeegalaar and Mariappa hurling in long throws. But the final pass was just lacking, the ball just wouldn’t drop how the Hornets wanted it to and lady luck wasn’t quite on their side.
 
There was, however, a big shout for a penalty at the end, when Eric Dier appeared to handle a cross, but it would have taken a brave referee to give that, especially after reducing the visitors to ten men. As it was, honours ended even and that was probably just about right.
 
Watford now have four points from games against the big two from North London and you’d certainly have taken that had it been offered at the start of the season
 
HORNETS | Gomes: Mariappa, Prödl, Kabasele (Capouè 64); Feminía, Doucourè, Cleverley (Gray 87), Zeegalaar; Pereyra (Carrillo, 78), Richarlison, Deeney.

Subs not used: Karnezis, Janmaat, Wagué, Watson.

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