Tottenham playing like a squad ready for top four
Had it been one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s or Jose Mourinho’s, it would have been hailed as one of those gritty performances that wins titles; a true test of champions.
They could have settled for a point and no-one would have complained – but they didn’t.
It was cold, it was damp and it was the second game in three days.
Watford were high on confidence, strong in spirit and have proved increasingly hard to penetrate, let alone beat this season.
Even with 10 men they fought to the end and might even have won it.
But that was the very point.
Spurs were not fluent. They were not rescued by individual brilliance, even though the finish for the winner by Son
Heung-min was exquisite. They were not, well, Spurs.
It was about a refusal to yield.
It was about bottle and, this is the thing, Tottenham had it.
Pochettino, for a start, was not too proud to change his formation for the first time this season, out of respect for
Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo.
There was no pretence that this was only Watford.
His players had faith in this decision, or at least no-one seemed to emerge wondering why on earth they were changing the system that worked just fine against Manchester City.
Kieran Trippier stepped in to make his first Barclays Premier League start of the season and was outstanding at wing-back.
Dele Alli has added energy and a steeliness in this new role as arguably football’s hardest-working ‘No 10’, supplying Harry Kane with support as Spurs follow Pochettino’s instructions to ‘defend from the front’.
Watford, for the first half hour, were as rattled as they have been since returning to the top flight.
Eric Dier moved from deep midfield, where he has been excellent, into a back three and was beaten by Ighalo for the goal, but he recovered his composure, stuck to his task and did not concede again.
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