(Photo credit: Reuters/Carl Recine)
20:00 BST, Monday 30th April, Wembley Stadium (London, England) Sky Sports
After being dealt a bitter blow last weekend when the Red Devils snuffed out their last remaining hopes of silverware, Tottenham look to pick up the pieces back in the Premier League.
With Chelsea breathing down their metaphorical necks only two points below, a loss would be as damaging to Spurs as a win will prove rewarding.
Without a win now in three games, Tottenham can put themselves on course for a relatively happy ending this season with a ninth consecutive victory over Watford on home territory.
Having failed to win any of their last six matches, Watford are also experiencing a slide. With four of those games not producing any goals for the Hornets, the shoots of recovery are well covered at present.
Javi Gracia is yet to see his side either take a point, or score away from home since he took charge at the end of January, however, his reputation as a giant killer can be enhanced with an impressive scalp at England’s national stadium.
Last Time Out
Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Manchester United (FA Cup)
(Photo credit: REUTERS/Hannah McKay)
It took only took 20 seconds for Tottenham to register their intent in this match, Harry Kane flashing an early shot narrowly wide of David De Gea’s goal.
Spurs continued to pour on the pressure in the early stages and it was no surprise when Dele Alli opened the scoring in the 11th minute.
By the midpoint in the first half United had began to battle back and they slowly wrestled control away from the North London side.
Although the equaliser was a well-crafted goal, it began with Mousa Dembélé being uncharacteristically hustled off the ball in midfield, a moment from which he never seemed to recover as he drifted through the remainder of the match.
While Tottenham kept battling after the break, Ander Herrera’s goal in the 62nd minute sucked the life and belief out of Spurs.
Once Manchester United had assumed the lead, Tottenham lacked any real urgency in their attacks and eventually limped out of a semi-final for the 8th consecutive time.
Watford 0-0 Crystal Palace (Premier League)
(Photo credit: Reuters/Paul Childs)
Watford fans suffered a frustrating and ultimately disappointing afternoon as they were held in a stalemate by the Eagles.
While the Hornets were far from being terrible, they were also far from the fluid football that they played during the early months of this season.
They began the game well with Stefano Okaka one player to particularly impress despite it being his first game since December. The striker was unlucky to see an early shot hit the woodwork rather than ruffle the net but he was even more unlucky to limp out of the game less than an hour into the match.
While the first half showed plenty of promise for Watford fans, the second carried little joy in their direction.
Palace were the team asking all of the questions and twice hit the woodwork as they pressed on Watford’s goal. With much of the contest being fought in midfield, chances were of a premium in this game and a fair result was finally achieved with the final whistle.
Tottenham Hotspur Lineup
Harry Winks (ankle) and Danny Rose (calf) are the only injury worries for Pochettino ahead of this match, although the Argentine is expected to rotate some of his squad from the team who were beaten last weekend.
Gracia has more injury problems to contend with than his counterpart, with Molla Wagué (hamstring), Younes Kaboul (fitness), Gerard Deulofeu (foot), Tom Cleverley (hamstring) and Nathaniel Chalobah (knee) all still missing.
Stefano Okaka (thigh) also adds to the selection problem while Sebastian Prödl could also miss out after being hit by an illness this week.
Key Battle: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) vs Roberto Pereyra (Watford)
Whether he plays to the left, right or centrally behind Harry Kane, Eriksen manages to be the most influential player in Tottenham’s team.
With five goals and three assists from his last seven games across all competitions, Eriksen also has the end-product to his game to show for his efforts.
With Watford likely to have an organised defence on Monday night, Spurs will be looking to Eriksen more than any other player to orchestrate their attacks.
(Photo credit: Reuters/Carl Recine)
Watford’s main creative outlets have been Richarlison and Gerard Deulofeu before and after Christmas respectively. However, both players are unlikely to begin this match.
Watford’s most recent catalyst in making things happen has been Roberto Pereyra. The 27-year-old Argentine has taken time to settle since his £13 million move from Juventus last summer but has put in several man-of-the-match performances over the last month.
With his work-rate and defensive responsibilities adding to his pace and creative flair, the left-winger could prove useful at both ends of the pitch in this match.
A public Kane-ing
Harry Kane and his family have been widely reported to be furious over the treatment that the Spurs forward has received in recent weeks.
After becoming the point of ridicule for claiming his shirt made a telling touch on Christian Eriksen’s goal against Stoke, the 24-year-old was then nominated for the under-23’s, young player of the year award on a technicality before the FA tweeted an unfunny, funny at Kane’s expense.
Mauricio Pochettino defended his star player in the pre-match press conference to this fixture claiming that the tweet had indeed made Kane sad.
With Kane wanting to be branded as one of, if not the, best striker in the world, he will have to learn to live with far worse judgements and criticism during the remainder of his career if he wants that particular public spotlight shining on him.
The power of good PR
Despite the poor run that Watford are currently trapped inside, Javi Gracia continues to have the backing of many of Watford’s fans.
While there are mitigating circumstances in terms of a significant injury list and deep-set problems within the club prior to his appointment, many managers have faced fury for delivering more.
The jovial nature and respectable way in which Gracia conducts himself has surely played no small part in this.
As a dignified addition to the Premier League, Gracia is being extended a warm welcome. However, this won’t last indefinitely and he will need to show signs of progress on the pitch sooner rather than later if he’s to maintain this feel-good factor around Vicarage Road.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Watford
With Watford on 38 points and looking reasonably safe for this season, their motivation for breaking their poor form may not be at an all-time high.
While the occasion of playing at Wembley is likely to raise their game into producing a closely-fought game, Tottenham should have enough to secure victory at Watford’s expense.