Tottenham vs. Watford
Venue: Tottenham Stadium
Tottenham Hotspur will hope that the international break has provided an opportunity to move on from a dreadful run of form when they host Watford this afternoon.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side have lost four of their last five games across all competitions but could barely have selected a better opponent to face when in need of a victory, with Watford still searching for their first win of the season.
Often players and managers cannot wait for the next game to come around in the wake of a defeat in order for them to put that loss behind them, but even Pochettino admitted that the international break may have come at a good time for his side.
Tottenham’s form heading into the break was nothing short of disastrous; a penalty-shootout defeat to League Two Colchester United appeared to be as bad as it could get for the Londoners, only for a complete capitulation against Bayern Munich and then another humbling at Brighton & Hove Albion to follow.
It is a damning sign that it is difficult to identify which has been the lowest point of that horrendous form – the EFL Cup upset, shipping seven at home to Bayern for the heaviest home defeat ever suffered by an English side in Europe or following that up by losing 3-0 to Brighton in a match where their misery was compounded by captain Hugo Lloris suffering a horrific arm injury.
The two-week break between games should give Spurs an opportunity to shake off some of the doom and gloom around the club, although the problems date further back than the last few weeks and seem to be much more deeply-rooted than just a string of chastening results.
Since the opening day of the season Spurs have only won twice across all competitions, losing to Newcastle United and throwing away two-goal leads against Arsenal and Olympiacos in that time, as well as the four defeats in their last five outings.
Pochettino made it clear that he was not entirely satisfied with what happened during the transfer window, including but not limited to a number of wantaway players being kept at the club, and the problems even seem to pre-date their run to the Champions League final last season.
Perhaps the most alarming statistic is that Spurs – top-four finishers four years in a row – have lost more games across all competitions in 2019 (17) than any other Premier League team. The last calendar year they lost more games was 2008 (19), and on current form it is hard to see how they will avoid surpassing that tally.
A trip to Anfield is their next assignment in the Premier League after this weekend, although they will be grateful to have two seemingly winnable home fixtures against Watford and Red Star Belgrade in which to regain a semblance of good form prior to that match.
Indeed, if Spurs could have hand-picked an opponent during their current state then it may well have been a home game against a Watford side still looking for their first league victory of the season.
Tottenham have won each of their last nine top-flight home games against Watford, including all six in the Premier League era, giving them their best such 100% home winning record against any club in the competition.
Home and away Watford have only ever won one of their 12 previous Premier League meetings with Spurs, while they have lost 16 consecutive Premier League away games against ‘big six’ opponents, during which time they have scored only nine goals while conceding 53.
The most recent of those was the 8-0 hammering they received at the hands of Manchester City last month, so the odds do not look good on Watford finally ending their wait for a league win this weekend.
On only three previous occasions have Watford endured a longer winless run at the start of a league campaign, and another defeat or draw on Saturday would leave them just one game short of equalling that unwanted record, set in a 2006-07 campaign which ended with them finishing bottom of the Premier League, 10 points from safety.
Tottenham possible XI: Gazzaniga, Aurier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Ndombele, Winks, Lucas, Alli, Son, Kane.
Watford possible XI: Foster, Janmaat, Cathcart, Prodl, Kabasele, Holebas, Cleverley, Doucoure, Capoue, Deulofeu, Welbeck.