Spurs are now four matches without a win in the Premier League after a helter-skelter match with no end of controversy here.
Davinson Sánchez received a straight red card for a foul on Richarlison while Watford had two loud penalty claims turned down by referee Martin Atkinson in a game where no quarter was given by either side. The goals both came in the first half, Christian Kabasele’s header cancelled out by Son Heung-min from six yards out.
Spurs dominated the ball in the early stages and Harry Kane might have opened the scoring in the sixth minute had he managed to get a toe onto Kieran Trippier’s first-time cross. Watford however were resolute and fully committed in the challenge, ready to spring the counterattack whenever the opportunity presented itself.
That was the situation in the 13th minute when, after resisting waves of Spurs pressure, Tom Cleverley sprung Richarlison free on the left touchline. The Brazilian took the ball wonderfully into his stride, advanced to the byline and won a corner off Jan Vertonghen.
It was a simple action, perfectly executed and the Hornets made sure to make their moment count. Cleverley took the corner, his delivery sent to the front post where Kabasele’s late run caught Harry Kane off guard. The Belgian defender reached the ball and flicked his header to the back post giving Hugo Lloris no chance.
Spurs had conceded the opening goal for the fifth match in succession and the odd jitter began to slip into their play. Sánchez, under pressure from Watford’s press, tried to dribble past Richarlison and Troy Deeney and was robbed in the process. The Brazilian then had a strong shout for a penalty on Ben Davies after the Welshman barged him during a goalmouth bundle. Atkinson saw nothing wrong however and, all of a sudden, the visitors were back in the match.
As Watford players were still visibly frustrated at the penalty decision, Spurs broke down the other end of the pitch. Trippier began the move, bursting into the space left by Richarlison, and played in Christian Eriksen on the right. The Dane hit the byline and hit a slide rule cross that skidded through to the far post where Son was waiting to tap the ball home.
Parity restored, Spurs began to grow in confidence again and ended the first half on top, with Davies volleying just wide from the edge of the box on the stroke of half-time. They came out again after the break even more invigorated, probing the hosts at every opportunity.
The counterattack was still always an option for Watford however and once again the ball was worked to Richarlison in the 52nd minute. Sánchez had been deputed to look after the Brazilian as he had the pace to keep up with him, but as the Columbian caught his opponent on the halfway line he decided to barge him off the ball. This was a big mistake. Sanchez led with his arm, the arm ran up into Richarlison’s face and Atkinson had no choice but to hand out a straight red card.
It was a stupid error and unnecessary to boot and is served to stir up the home crowd. Watford immediately forced a succession of corners and from one in the 62 minute they almost scored a superlative second. Cleverley’s cross was cleared from the box but only to Abdoulaye Doucoure. The defensive midfielder with five league goals to his name already this season hit a shot of such power and whip that Lloris was left standing only to see it cannon out to safety from the inside of the post.
Now it was Tottenham’s time to stand firm. Pochettino withdrew Eriksen for Moussa Sissoko and asked the Frenchman to shore up the right hand side. Alli pulled back into the centre of midfield. The visitors were now the threat on the break with Sissoko drilling a shot into the side-netting and Trippier’s cross forcing Gomes to paw the ball away from his line.
Marco Silva meanwhile went two up top, pairing Andre Gray with Deeney. A thrilling final few minutes ensued and Richarlison was sure he had a penalty claim when his cross hit Eric Dier’s arm, but in the end the spoils were deservedly shared.
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