Watford-Tottenham Hotspur Preview
Tottenham Hotspur look to solidify their status as title challengers Saturday when they welcome Watford to White Hart Lane.
Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs (12-9-3) have won three on the bounce to leapfrog north London rivals Arsenal into third position in the Premier League. And with the top two sides Leicester City and Manchester City playing each other this weekend, Spurs will see this game as a terrific chance to put themselves right in the mix for the title.
Leicester's astonishing rise to the summit of English football has overshadowed an unexpectedly superb season for Spurs. The White Hart Lane side started the campaign with few tipping them for a place in the top five, let alone anything more. However, the youngest squad in the division have played scintillating football at times, and understandably the manager is keen the players don't get distracted by turning their attention towards the top of the table.
"The gap with Leicester is five points and a lot can happen in football, but our next game is against Watford and we need to keep this mentality," Pochettino said. "We cannot be distracted by the table.
"It is important for the supporters, but for now we have a way ahead of us - and a lot of games - and we need to be focused every day, improve in every training session, and try to win every game."
Tottenham have had their fair share of injuries, but up until the 3-0 midweek win over Norwich City, they had been able to call upon their first-choice defensive partnership of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld in every single game.
A knee ligament injury picked up by Vertonghen put the best defence in the league - Spurs have conceded just 19 goals, two less than next-lowest Manchester United - under pressure, but summer signing Kevin Wimmer stepped in and immediately looked at home in the Lilywhite shirt.
"Kevin did very well," Alderweireld said. "I've played a couple of Europa League matches with him already and he's very comfortable on the ball, he knows how we have to play and there is a good connection between us - that's important.
"He's a quiet guy, quite funny as well off the pitch, but he always works hard for the team, even when he wasn't playing earlier in the season. The lads are all helping him and he put in a very good performance against Norwich. This is a good opportunity for him and I'm sure - in fact, I know - he will do well."
Watford have slipped from the high standards they set in the first half of the season, but a midweek goalless draw versus Chelsea gave the Hornets plenty to smile about, with goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes performing heroics to keep last season's champions at bay.
"We know he's a great goalkeeper, he shows us every week and in every training session," Watford defender Sebastian Prödl said. "To be honest, because we see him in training we expect this kind of goalkeeping in games as well, but of course we are very happy about his saves and his performance."
Watford have not won any of their last eight meetings with Spurs in all competitions, while the goals have dried up for Quique Sanchez Flores' side of late - they have failed to find the net in three of their last four.
Tottenham have allowed fewer shots on target since the turn of the year than any other team in the division, 13 in five games, while striker Harry Kane is in a rich vein of form with 14 goals in his last 15 league appearances.