MX23RW : Sunday, November 18 08:48:51

Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Watford

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Watford at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham Hotspur will attempt to record their sixth straight win in all competitions when they welcome capital rivals Watford to White Hart Lane in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday's 3-0 win at Norwich City saw Spurs move above Arsenal into third position in the table, but ninth-placed Watford also picked up a strong result last time out - drawing 0-0 at home to a revitalised Chelsea.


Tottenham

Mauricio Pochettino Manager of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur at The Hawthorns on December 5, 2015 in West Bromwich, England.© Getty Images

Talk of whether Spurs can finish in the top four this season has switched to talk of the Premier League title. The capital side are challengers according to the views of many, but head coach Mauricio Pochettino refused to be drawn on whether his team can win the league when questioned at his pre-match press conference ahead of this match.

Instead, Pochettino spoke of the need for his side to 'continue improving' as they aim to make it a record-breaking campaign. Whether the Spurs boss actually believes that his team can win the title is open to interpretation, but the league table suggests that it is a very possible outcome. Spurs moved above Arsenal on Tuesday night courtesy of a three-goal win at Norwich and are now third, just five points off the league leaders Leicester City, who travel to Manchester City this weekend.

With at least one of Leicester and Man City set to drop points and Arsenal facing a tough trip to Bournemouth on Sunday, this could be a decisive weekend for Pochettino's side, who have only lost three times in the league this season. Their record from 24 matches reads won 12, drawn nine and lost three, while they will enter this match off the back of a three-game winning run in the top flight. They are also now five points inside of the Champions League positions.

Indeed, Tottenham have lost just four of their last 25 Premier League games at White Hart Lane - winning 14 times in the process. That said, two of those defeats have come since the start of December. Criticism of lack of character has been aimed at Spurs in past seasons, but they have recovered more points (14) from losing positions than any other side in the league this term.

In Harry Kane, the home side also have a striker in serious form. The England international struggled in the opening weeks of the season, but he has 14 goals in his last 15 Premier League appearances. As well as a regular scorer, Spurs have the best defensive record in the league this term having only shipped 19 goals in their 24 matches.

Whether Spurs can actually win the title this season might well be determined by their results over the next month. After this one, they will travel to Manchester City and also have difficult games against West Ham United and Arsenal at the start of March. Finishing in the top four would be an excellent achievement, but the capital side might never have a better chance of winning the title.

Recent form: WDLWWW
Recent form (all competitions): LWWWWW


Watford

Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores hugs Odion Ighalo after the 3-0 win over Liverpool on December 20, 2015© Getty Images

Watford lost four consecutive league games between December 28 and January 18, but they have steadied the ship in recent weeks, with four points from their last two keeping them in the top half of the table. It has been an impressive campaign for the newly-promoted side, with a total of 33 points from their 24 matches leaving them in ninth spot.

Indeed, Quique Flores's team are only one point off the top seven and now 12 points clear of the relegation zone. Their season had threatened to tail off at the start of 2016, but they recorded a 2-1 win over Newcastle United on January 23, before holding Chelsea to a goalless draw on Wednesday night. Watford have had one day fewer than Spurs to prepare for this match, however, and that might be an issue, especially against a high-pressing home team.

Watford's overall record against Spurs is also poor - losing six of their last eight meetings and failing to record a single win in the process. Their away form this season, however, has been pretty solid - collecting 15 points from their 11 matches, losing just four times in the process. In fact, they have lost more times at Vicarage Road this season than they have on the road.

Flores will be wary of a difficult run of fixtures, however, as his team look to reach the 40-point mark. After this one, they will travel to an out-of-form Crystal Palace, before facing Bournemouth at home and Manchester United away at the start of next month. They also travel to West Ham United during March and host title challengers Leicester City.

Much of their success this season has been down to the performances of Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney in the final third. The former has scored 14 times in the league this season, while Deeney has dispelled suggestions that he could not operate at this level. Just 26 goals conceded also shows that Flores has established a solid base as Watford look to challenge for a spot in the top half of the table come the end of the season.

Recent form: LLLLWD
Recent form (all competitions): WLLWWD


Team News

Dele Alli celebrates scoring during the game between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur on January 3, 2016© Getty Images

Pochettino revealed at his pre-match press conference that Dele Alli, who has scored seven league goals this season, had trained ahead of the match despite suffering from dizziness during the week.

The England international will be assessed before the match, but is expected to start. The fixture has come too soon for fellow midfielder Ryan Mason though, who remains on the sidelines, while Jan Vertonghen is also some way off being fit to feature.

Nacer Chadli impressed in the second period against Norwich and could replace Son Heung-min in the XI, while Ben Davies is expected to return at left-back ahead of Danny Rose.

As for Watford, Juan Carlos Paredes's antics with Diego Costa during the Chelsea match could see the defender drop out of the XI, with Allan Nyom returning to the team.

Mario Suarez is also pushing for his first start after debuting off the bench last time out, but the Spaniard might have to wait as Flores decides whether to alter his midfield trio. Fellow January signing Nordin Amrabat is also expected to start on the bench as Ighalo and Deeney continue their partnership in the final third.

Spurs possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Walker, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Davies; Dembele, Dier; Chadli, Eriksen, Alli; Kane

Watford possible starting lineup:
Gomes; Holebas, Cathcart, Prodl, Nyom; Behrami, Watson, Capoue; Jurado; Ighalo, Denney


Head To Head

As mentioned, Watford have lost six and drawn two of their last eight games against Spurs in all competitions. That run of form includes a 2-1 defeat when the pair met at Vicarage Road earlier this season.

The two teams have not met at White Hart Lane in the league since March 2007 and Spurs were once again victorious courtesy of a 3-1 scoreline.

The last time that Watford beat Tottenham in a top-flight league match was during the 1986-87 season.


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We say: Tottenham 2-1 Watford

Watford are a tough nut to crack and their business during the January transfer window suggests that they are already preparing for another season of Premier League football.

The Hornets have a rotten record against Spurs, however, and we are backing the home team to continue their title challenge with a narrow victory at White Hart Lane.


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Who will win Saturday's clash at White Hart Lane?

Tottenham
Draw
Watford
Tottenham
85.1%
Draw
8.6%
Watford
6.3%
Diego Costa cares not for Jose Holebas during the Premier League game between Watford and Chelsea on February 3, 2016
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Deeney slams Costa, Paredes "handbags"
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City1210203653132
2Liverpool129302351830
3Chelsea128402781928
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs1290320101027
5Arsenal1273226151124
6Bournemouth126242116520
7Watford126241714320
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd126242021-120
9Everton125431915419
10Leicester CityLeicester125251716117
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves124441213-116
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton124261318-514
13West Ham UnitedWest Ham123361418-412
14Newcastle UnitedNewcastle12237915-69
15Burnley122371225-139
16Crystal Palace12228817-98
17Southampton12156821-138
18Cardiff CityCardiff122281125-148
19Huddersfield TownHuddersfield12147622-167
20Fulham121291131-205

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