Watford 1 Tottenham 4
Watford: Kaboul (90'+1) | Tottenham: Kane (27', 33'), Alli (41', 46')
Man of the Match: Dele Alli (Tottenham)
They have been twin thrashings, four-goal salvoes fired away from home which have now taken Tottenham into the top four. Mission statements have secured their eventual elevation, ending their two-month stay in fifth place. Like Southampton four days earlier, Watford on Sunday discovered Tottenham are in enviable form.
Theirs was a performance of utter dominance. Watford posted the first contender for the unwanted award of 2017’s most shambolic display, but Tottenham were terrific.
“We played to a very high standard,” said Mauricio Pochettino. “The first half was one of the best we have played this season.”
It was his vision being played out perfectly: youth and energy, attacking intent and skill, a triumph hewn on the training ground, borne of collectivism and clinched by the twin emblems of the new Tottenham.
Harry Kane and Dele Alli — one home-grown, the other acquired young and both moulded by Pochettino — struck twice apiece. It was Kane’s 100th Premier League appearance and he marked it with his 58th and 59th goals, a healthy statistic that is a sign of his consistent productivity. A brace was taken with the assurance of a specialist scorer. Perhaps the only surprise was that the supply line for both goals was reserve rightback Kieran Trippier. Promoted because Kyle Walker was suspended, the understudy doubled his tally of assists for Spurs in six minutes.
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His first was a pass slid through the Watford defence that Kane converted from an acute angle. Then Trippier controlled Alli’s cross-field ball and whipped in an enticing cross. Kane met it on the volley to apply the finishing touch.
Alli was inches from a landmark of his own, a maiden Premier League hat-trick. He struck the bar with a ferocious shot a minute before Kane’s opener. He ended with a second successive brace and proof of his symbiotic understanding with Kane: his second goal came from the striker’s cross.
For his first, he latched on to a poor clearance from Younes Kaboul, the man Pochettino had appointed Tottenham captain before swiftly acknowledging his error, and placed a shot beyond the former Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes. The presence of two old boys added a symbolism: Tottenham’s present is infinitely preferable to much of their recent past.
Pochettino was able to remove Alli with half an hour remaining. Danny Rose and Kane also sat out the closing stages as attention turned to Wednesday’s attempt to halt Chelsea’s winning run. “We’re coming for you,” chorused the Spurs faithful to their Blues counterparts.
Their thoughts had strayed from Watford. Pochettino had taken mercy on them. Tottenham lost concentration in added time and Kaboul scored the least consoling of consolation goals. Watford’s problems began before kick-off. Already ravaged by injuries, they lost Juan Zuniga in the warm-up. Striker Odion Ighalo came in while Nordin Amrabat, Watford’s third choice right wing-back, moved to the flank until he, too, sustained an injury.
Yet absences alone cannot excuse their staggering ineptitude, as Adlene Guedioura accepted. “It is embarrassing to lose like that,” said the midfielder. “I want to apologise to all the fans.” Much was sorry about Watford, a side seeming to lack the basics, whether of organisation or commitment. They feel a team without an identity, as though the revolving-door recruitment policy has come at a cost.
Now Tottenham have four consecutive wins, Watford one point from four games. They looked what they are: teams going in opposite directions.
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