5 talking points from Tottenham’s 4-1 victory at Watford
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Harry Kane and Dele Alli both struck twice as Tottenham triumphed 4-1 away against Watford in a repeat of Wednesday’s scoreline at Southampton. Here are five talking points.
1. Mauricio Pochettino opts to use wing-backs again, with further success
Tottenham’s manager sprang a surprise in this fixture last season, abandoning his favoured 4-2-3-1 system and using wing-backs for the first time.
The Argentinian has since used a similar set-up on a couple of occasions this term, allowing the full-backs to focus on making an impact in the final third – and that approach resulted in a 3-0 home win over Hull City at White Hart Lane last month, when Kyle Walker and Danny Rose set up a goal each.
There was therefore less surprise when Pochettino opted to use wing-backs again at Watford today – and again the decision paid off.
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This time Spurs were 3-0 up at half-time en route to a 4-1 win, with ex-Lilywhites captain Younes Kaboul grabbing a consolation goal in injury time.
2. Kieran Trippier takes his chance to impress
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Spurs’ reserve right-back has had some below-par displays this season and it seemed notable that he had been overlooked since the 2-1 defeat in Monaco in November, which ended Spurs’ hopes of progressing from their Champions League group.
If Kyle Walker had been available today it is debatable whether the 26-year-old would have got the nod – after all, deputy left-back Ben Davies was initially left on the bench again as Danny Rose started for the seventh match in a row on the other flank.
However, Trippier made the most of his first Premier League start of the season, setting up two goals for Kane inside the opening 33 minutes with exquisite assists.
The former Burnley man slid an ingenious ball in behind Watford’s defenders as Kane broke the deadlock, and he then whipped in a stunning half-volleyed cross which allowed his team-mate to finish at close range.
Trippier clearly enjoys playing against Watford – he has now scored one goal and set up another three in his three matches for Spurs against the Hornets – and he will hope this sets the tone for a strong 2017 on a personal level.
Spurs’ first-choice full-back have been in fine form recently and there was a suspicion that the deputies, Trippier and Davies, had been left behind, limiting Pochettino’s ability to rotate. On this evidence, however, Trippier is ready to step up when needed.
Kevin Wimmer also put in a solid display on the left side of Spurs’ back three as he made his first appearance for more than a month. His strong tackle inside Watford’s half put the visitors on the front foot in the build-up to the opening goal.
3. Kane celebrates his 100th Premier League appearance in style
Tottenham’s striker marked a century of top-flight matches (97 of them in Spurs colours) with a clinical display, netting twice and also setting up Alli’s second goal.
The 23-year-old has now scored 12 goals in 18 games this season, and 59 in his first 100 Premier League matches - the same number as Arsenal legend Thierry Henry had at the same stage.
Meanwhile Alli has taken his tally to five goals in three matches. He racked up his eighth and ninth strikes of the season for his club at Vicarage Road, leaving him just one short of his record for the whole of last season.
Watford were woeful today but Tottenham are certainly looking dangerous offensively – they have now netted eight times on the road in the space of five days, having also thumped Southampton 4-1 on the south coast on Wednesday night.
4. The focus switches his focus to Chelsea a little earlier than planned
While Tottenham’s dominant victory at Watford was worthy of celebration in its own right, it also enabled Pochettino to take some of his key men off early and give them some extra rest ahead of Sunday’s mammoth home game against league leaders Chelsea.
Alli was withdrawn just after the hour-mark and Rose also came off before the 70th minute, while Kane bowed out 13 minutes from time.
5. Tottenham push their way into the top four
Spurs have been just outside the Champions League spots for much of the season but this triumph - their sixth from seven games - took them up above Manchester City and into fourth place..
Indeed, they sat third for a couple of hours, before Arsenal beat Arsenal Crystal Palace and regained the position.
Spurs go into Wednesday’s clash with Chelsea in fine form and fans of both clubs will be counting down the days until the highly-anticipated derby clash at the Lane.
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs