Watford could continue their dramatic uptick in form when they host Tottenham Hotspur at Vicarage Road on Saturday (12:30 GMT, live on BT Sport).
It wasn’t long ago that Watford were plum last in the table, but they come into this weekend’s encounter on the back of four wins in their last five league matches that have served not only to lift them off the bottom but out of the relegation zone altogether.
The catalyst for this remarkable improvement has been the appointment of Nigel Pearson as the club’s third head coach of the season early into December. Javi Gracia paid for a poor end to last season with his job when things appeared unlikely to improve early into the new campaign and his replacement Quique Sanchez Flores was unable to right the ship.
Pearson inherited a side who had claimed just seven points from their 10 fixtures under Flores’ command, and had just eight on the board in total 15 matches into the campaign. A couple of simple changes, including moving Abdoulaye Doucoure forward into an attacking midfield role, and a sprinkling of better luck have produced 14 points from seven matches.
The latest three came away to Bournemouth. Watford dominated from the off and had already created a couple of presentable chances before Doucoure gave them the lead just before half time. Doucoure turned provider for the second, scored by Troy Deeney, and then Roberto Pereyra wrapped things up with a third in second-half stoppage time.
It would probably be fair to say that Watford are unlikely to sustain their current run of results given that only the top two have taken more points from their last six league fixtures than Pearson’s side, but they are certainly no longer the dead-on relegation candidates than they looked just over a month ago. The leading online UK bookies, at least, now rank the current bottom three as being more likely to go down.
Tottenham enjoyed a similar kind of bounce when Jose Mourinho came in to replace Mauricio Pochettino in mid-November. They won four of their first five league fixtures under the former Chelsea and Manchester United boss, but things haven’t been quite as smooth since. They make the short trip to the outskirts of the capital on the back of just one win in the subsequent five.
There was little shame in going down 0-1 at home to runaway league leaders Liverpool on Saturday. While Mourinho’s (entirely predictable) defensively minded opening alignment left his side unable to move forward effectively, second half changes led to them arguably creating enough to equalise the first half Liverpool goal that eventually proved decisive.
Of more concern were the previous pair of results: a defeat away at Southampton and a draw at bottom club Norwich. While the underlying numbers indicate that Mourinho has improved upon Tottenham’s level earlier in the campaign under Pochettino, there still haven’t been many concrete signs of a team capable of the sort of consistent results needed to make a serious push to unseat Chelsea and claim a top-four place.
Particularly so with main striker Harry Kane now out of action until April. While the 26-year-old hasn’t exactly been at his best, with an accumulation of previous injuries seemingly limiting his mobility, he had still scored 11 goals. That is nearly double anyone else on the team. Until a replacement is sourced, be it a long or short-term one, Heung-Min Son will probably take on the majority of the team’s goalscoring burden.
Their injury issues in midfield have been slightly eased by the arrival of Gedson Fernandes from Benfica, who is likely to go straight into the squad for Saturday’s fixture.
Our Preview’s Watford vs Tottenham Hotspur Betting Tips Verdict
There can be no doubt as to which of the two teams is currently in the better form, and it is Watford who looked the best placed to come away with all three points. They defeated Spurs at Vicarage Road last season and can be fancied to repeat that result this time out.
- Bet on Watford to win @ best odds of 9/4 with Betfair.
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