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Focus: How Spurs can hit Watford where it hurts

Watford have built their success this season on a very narrow 4-4-2 formation that crowds out the centre of the pitch and counter-attacks through the middle. However, this system has one major flaw that Spurs should be able to exploit this weekend.

Ten of the last 14 goals Quique Flores’ team have conceded were the direct result of crosses into the box, with five of these from set-pieces

Ten of the last 14 goals Quique Sanchez Flores’s team have conceded were the direct result of crosses into the box, with five of these from set-pieces. The main reason for this is that Watford’s natural narrowness can be exposed by overlapping full-backs and sudden switches of the ball into wide areas; since they press as a tightly compacted unit, shifting out wide to properly defend crosses can be difficult for the Hornets.

Flying full-backs

Spurs ideally like to attack down the middle, using inverted wingers to create quick-tempo football in the centre of the park, and in order to do this successfully they must first stretch their opponents open.

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A major reason for Tottenham’s improvement this season is their ability to switch the ball quickly from flank to flank, where full-backs Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose act almost as wingers. Spurs make 31.8 successful long passes per game (sixth-most in the division), and the majority of these are lateral.

This strategy should be particularly fruitful on Saturday. Tottenham have scored more set-piece goals (16) than any other Premier League club, and will most likely be successful from these situations against a team that struggle to win aerial battles.

Mauricio Pochettino is a reactive manager who looks to exploit opposition weaknesses by adapting his team’s playing style; expect plenty of crosses to fly into Watford’s box on Saturday, and the results to be strong. 

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