Tottenham Hotspur see off Watford to move up to second

Kieran Tripper’s first Spurs goal ensures the title remains realistic for Pochettino’s side

Kieran Tripper’s first Spurs goal gave his side a 1-0 win against Watford. Photograph: EPA

Kieran Tripper’s first Spurs goal gave his side a 1-0 win against Watford. Photograph: EPA

 

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Watford 0

Tottenham moved up to second in the Premier League as Kieran Trippier’s second-half strike secured a 1-0 win over Watford.

Spurs were in command throughout the contest at White Hart Lane, but it took a first club goal from full-back Trippier to seal all three points and a fourth consecutive league victory.

It means Tottenham climb a point above Manchester City in the table and now sit five behind league leaders Leicester.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men took to the field shortly after Leicester had secured a stunning 3-1 win at the Etihad Stadium, but while the Foxes’ remarkable season continues to take the spotlight, Spurs’ title challenge is gathering pace.

Tottenham have not been so high in the standings with 25 matches played since 2012, when Harry Redknapp’s Gareth Bale-inspired team sat third and looked set for a similar tilt at becoming champions.

Spurs, however, then lost their next three games in a row and managed just one win in nine as the team crumbled under the pressure, slipping to fourth and missing out on a Champions League place to Chelsea.

Pochettino’s outfit appear to be made of sterner stuff but much will be learned in the next month, with a visit to Manchester City in eight days’ time followed by a Europa League double header against Fiorentina and derbies against West Ham and Arsenal.

It was perhaps with those games in mind that Pochettino made four changes to his starting line-up, including dropping Dele Alli to the bench.

Watford, meanwhile, have now won only once in eight matches and this latest defeat means they drop to 10th in the table.

Tottenham dominated the opening 45 minutes but found it difficult to break down the visitors, who were happy to sit deep and soak up the pressure.

The Hornets were determined to channel possession down the crowded centre, while Spurs found joy when moving the ball wide.

One Trippier cross picked out Nacer Chadli but his header was blocked, while Ben Davies twice nipped in behind Allan Nyom but the Welshman’s shots were parried away by Gomes.

Tottenham endured one momentary scare when Almen Abdi’s long-range effort landed on the roof of the net after Hugo Lloris had rushed out.

However, the best chance of the half came five minutes before the break as Eric Dier chipped a ball forward to Harry Kane and the striker, under pressure, volleyed over from six yards out.

Quique Sanchez Flores introduced Troy Deeney at half-time, presumably to give his side more of an outlet, but Tottenham began the second period with even greater vigour and had two penalty appeals turned down in quick succession.

The first looked the stronger case as Gomes clipped the back of Kane’s legs as he moved away from goal, with the striker’s header then impeded slightly when Sebastian Prodl slipped and was left floundering on the floor.

With an hour on the clock, Pochettino threw on Alli to initiate the breakthrough and it took the midfielder just four minutes, as he overlapped Mousa Dembele down the left before guiding a cross to the backpost with the outside of his foot for Trippier to slot home.

Tottenham should have put the game to bed in the latter stages as first Lamela went close and then Kevin Wimmer skewed Eriksen’s cutback, but it made no difference as the home side held on to keep their title challenge on track.

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