On Sunday, 2nd September, as the first short segment of this season’s premier league concluded with the international break coming up next, Vicarage Road witnessed pure passion, drama, and energy as the home side came from behind to stun the visiting North Londoners. After four games, Watford now stands third having won all four, with the last one sure to find a special place in the minds of the Watford supporters, as Spurs toppled 2-1, courtesy the Hornets’ sting.
Only Chelsea and Liverpool can match Watford’s record of winning all four Premier League games so far, and while they are ahead of Javi Gracia’s side on goal difference, they are not ahead by much. Never before have Watford won their first four matches of a top-flight campaign, and not for 31 years have they achieved victory in the league over Tottenham Hotspur. This is a Spurs side, lest we forget, who had also won their first three games this season, including that 3-0 rout against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Watford were durable but limited in the first half. Spurs had most of the ball and most of the opportunities to begin with, as Dele Alli went close with a looping header and then Davinson Sanchez powered a effort high and wide. After such a stodgy first half, it felt fitting that Spurs took the lead in the most ungainly fashion. Alli’s lofted pass was cleared to Lucas Moura, whose stabbed cross cannoned off Doucoure’s waist before spinning inside Ben Foster’s near post.
Watford were still 1-0 down with 20 minutes left but continued to push forward tirelessly. The Spurs defense eventually buckled, but before then this was a story of Tottenham’s inability to turn possession into goals at the other end of the pitch. Pochettino has a new attacking system with two strikers – Lucas Moura partnering Harry Kane up front – with Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen just behind. However this time, it did not work. Watford had woken up and got their leveler moments later through Deeney, who got up well before glancing a header into the bottom left corner from Holebas’ dangerous right-wing set-piece. The equalizer gave the hosts energy, and they duly took the lead seven minutes later through defender Cathcart, rising highest among a swamp of players to turn a header past Michel Vorm.
Since Javier Gracia took over as Watford manager in January, no side has won more home Premier League games than the Hornets (seven, level with Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, and Spurs). This was the first time that Tottenham lost a game in which they had been leading in the Premier League since November 2016 against eventual champions Chelsea, ending a run of 48 league matches without defeat when taking the lead at any stage.
“It’s so painful to concede two goals like we did and it’s so painful that the first half looks like a friendly,” Pochettino said. “We need to show more respect to this competition and compete much, much better. It’s difficult for me to understand. It was very painful. I think it’s a good wake-up call for everyone.”
“I am, very happy, like all of the Watford fans. We are enjoying the moment, to win four games in a row is not easy, and we try to keep our level in the next games. It had been an amazing start. We are in a good moment and trying to enjoy it, knowing we have won four games – but it is only four games”, said Garcia.
Watford’s best-ever start to a top-flight campaign goes on and they will now have the international break to bask in what they have achieved. Having beaten Brighton, Burnley, and Crystal Palace, they knew that Tottenham would represent a test from a higher level. Despite being below their best until the Doucouré blunder, they passed it.