OPPONENTS Watford at Stadium MK
COMPETITION League Cup Third Round
DATE Wednesday 26th September 2018
PREVIEW There are big headlines about La Liga wanting to stage one of their regular season games in Miami, but so what ?  Tottenham are taking one of their games away from their surrogate home of Wembley (which is recovering from a big fight at the weekend) to go on their tour of grounds across England by playing in Milton Keynes.  Watford are peeved as our home game against them was changed to Vicarage Road, so might want to prove some sort of point, but this game might show Spurs fans what they might have had to have faced every other week had the club not secured Wembley as our temporary home ground.

The Hornets have been impressive under Javi Gracia this season.  Not that they are playing stunning football, but that they are organised and have developed a system that suits them.  With a tighter defence, a midfield that has a decent creator in Pereyra and muscular forwards in Success, Gray and Deeney, Watford have had some results that have raised eyebrows.  The key to any prolonged improvement is consistency and that will be the test for the manager and the squad as they try and push further up the table than other Watford sides have achieved in the recent past.

People are talking about Tottenham having turned a corner after three successive losses, but there is still along way to go until the team reach the level of the previous three seasons.  This game might not give much of an indication as to how they might be improving, as there is Huddersfield Town away on Saturday and then Barcelona at home on Wednesday, which are both potentially more important than a League Cup tie, but some Premier League clubs have already already exited this competition and it might be winnable. 

Expect some fringe players to get a start, while first choices might be on the bench waiting to come on if required.  Watford look likely to put out a strong side, so, it could be an interesting fixture, for who many that turn up as well as what happens on the field.

With some players out injured, Spurs might be more reliant on their squad players, but I think they will be up for this one to prove that they are there for when Pochettino needs them.  Watford might not be able to rotate their squad quite as much, so their players might be saving themselves for Arsenal on Saturday.

It won't be a stunner, but I think Tottenham might just edge it.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    2         Watford    1
RESULTS HISTORY Click here for results, match reports and facts on meetings with Watford
Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm are still out injured.
Troy Deeney will not be risked with his broken toes a few days before they play Arsenal.

League Cup highlights (Quest) - Wednesday 22.30 (highlights)

For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here.

Radio :  
BBC LONDON 94.9FM (London area only), Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152  (live coverage)
Commentary may be found on
>   BBC Radio Five Live (live coverage)  606/939 MW
TalkSport (DAB or 2nd89 MW)
Absolute Radio  (1215 AM/MW)

If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne)
SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 15.00 matches
Australia (Sydney) 
Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
Media Corp Radio  -  93.8 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
South Africa 
SABC (Radio 2000)  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
Uganda  Radio 1 (English) 90.0 FM, Radio 2 (Lugandan) 87.9 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean) 
Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Watford?day - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

Internet :
The THFC Official website   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London -  Live commentaries listed down the page.
TalkSport (DAB or 2nd89 MW)

League Cup Third Round Kick off  20.00
Tottenham Hotspur  2 (0)
Spurs win 4-2 on penalties
Watford  2 (0)

Dele (p)  81m s
Lamela  86m s

Success 45m 37s
Davies (o.g.)  88m s

Lamela (celebrating goal)  87



Kabasele  (foul on Dele)  81

Crowd :   23,650 Weather :  Warm
Referee :  Lee Mason (Bolton) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Matthew Wilkes; Mr. Marc Perry
Fourth Official :  David Coote  
- -  kicked off and played towards the - end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 5 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Watford : kit

24  Serge AURIER
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ
33  Ben DAVIES

  8  Harry WINKS
12  Victor WANYAMA  (19  Mousa DEMBELE  64)
17  Moussa SISSOKO  (  7  Heung-Min SON  64)

11  Erik LAMELA        
20  DELE Alli  (c)  (p)
27  Lucas MOURA  (18  Fernando LLORENTE  70)

Unused subs: 
41  Alfie WHITEMAN

21  Juan FOYTH
15  Eric DIER

    1  Heurelho GOMES

23  Mark NAVARRO  (27  Christian KABASELE 77     )
  6  Adrian MARIAPPA
  Craig CATHCART  (c)

24  Ben WiLMOT
20  Domingos QUINOS
21  Kiko FEMENIA  (19  Will HUGHES 69)

  SEMA  (29  Etienne CAPOUE  84  )
10  Isaac SUCCESS 

Unused subs: 
30  Pontus DAHLBERG
37  Roberto PEREYRA
Andre GRAY

Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino Manager :  Javi Gracia
Sponsor :   AIA Shirt sponsor :  FXPro
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   adidas
Match report

While Dele Alli took the headlines for his two penalty captain's performance, it was Paulo Gazzaniga who had more of a hand in getting Tottenham through to the last 16 of the League Cup with two penalty saves in the shoot-out at Stadium MK.  Dele's return to Milton Keynes saw him on the team-sheet and on the score-sheet, but the switch to Buckinghamshire was not an unqualified success for either Tottenham or Watford's Isaac.

Both sides were much changed from the weekend and came out in front of 23,650 fans to the strains of Chas and Dave's "Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur" as a tribute to the recent passing away of Chas Hodges.  The ground was not full, but about three quarters capacity and the long journey up the M1, made longer by an accident at the M25 junction, did not help the demeanour of the Tottenham fans, but the Watford fans, who had a shorter trip, were filling their end.

The first half was massive let-down.  Hardly a shot on target, disjointed play and lots of stoppages interrupted any flow the game might have developed.  Lamela had a good chance when he took Aurier's low cross, spun 360 degrees at the near post and shot across the face of goal, with Dele Alli just unable to get to the ball at the far post.  Watford had an opening, as Navarro stretched to keep the ball in, hooking it forward to Success, who in turn played it to Sema in the box 12 yards out.  He looked odds on to score, with only Gazzaniga to beat, but Aurier appeared from nowhere, with Toby in attendance too.  The ball bounced up and as the Watford man waited for the ball to come down, Serge got in a foot to knock the ball high in the air for Gazzaniga to take above his head.  Navarro had smacked a shot form outside the box over the bar before Lamela almost got a clear sight of goal, when a  cross in from the left hit Cathcart on the back and it dropped for our Argentinean midfielder, but there were too many bodies around him to get a decent touch on the ball.

During half-time, there was an opportunity to have a look around the inside of the stadium that was designed by Populous, the company who are doing the new White Hart Lane.  There were wide concourses behind the seating and bars and toilets enough to cater reasonably well for a crowd bigger than MK Dons' biggest league attendance.  The seats were large and comfortable, with good sight-lines of the pitch, so perhaps this was a microcosm of what the new Spurs stadium will be like.  The noise inside was pretty good and it had a modern look, but obviously, for most of the time, it is too big for the MK crowd and you had the feeling that it had been plonked down in a non-footballing town.  There were a number of locals who came along to see the game and they would have enjoyed it as a neutral.  The same could not be said for the partisan Tottenham support after just 37 seconds of the second half. 

Gomes launched a clearance high towards halfway, with Ben Davies jumping but being beaten to the header.  As it dropped Winks stretched for it, could only lift it into the air 40 yards out and Femenia got there first, knocking a pass through for Isaac Success to run onto.  While it looked like Aurier had come across from right back to cover and push the striker wide, the Watford man struck a powerful shot early as he moved right of the goal that beat Gazzaniga at his near post from ten yards out and gave the Hornets a shock lead after they came out sharper than Spurs.  It was the last thing Tottenham needed after the first half had not been that inspiring.  Having to come from behind would make this more difficult against a Watford side that had ten changes from their weekend game.

For all the criticism that comes Sissoko's way, he was having a decent game and his passing looked better, with a neat ball into the box for Lucas that just saw him tackled as he was about to cross.  Serge fired a shot well over the bar and then Moussa dinked a delightful ball into the right side of the box for Dele to run onto and hit first time on the volley, but he couldn't keep it down and it went a yard over the top.  Sissoko was then involved again, being found at the end of Lucas' run down the right and from the middle of the box 18 yards out, hitting a shot at goal that appeared to hit Mariappa around his middle.  Shouts for a penalty for handball went up, but the ball seemed to hit him in the stomach and may then have ricocheted onto his arm.  Whichever way, Lee Mason wasn't interested.

Pochettino brought on Dembele and Son for Sissoko and Wanyama, who had been pretty anonymous.  The changes seemed to add a bit of spark to the team and the tempo increased as Spurs looked for an equaliser.  Soon after Fernando Llorente came on in place of Lucas.  Passing started to be a bit more purposeful and the movement around the box was troubling the Watford defence a bit more.  Aurier delivered a fine cross from the right wing and Llorente rose high to head at goal, but couldn't get the ball under the bar, clearing it by a foot from a few yards out.  Substitute Son then went closer, as Lamela played him in and from the left side of the box, he jinked inside and shot at goal.  It beat Gomes, but Wilmot was on hand to get a foot to the ball and clear it from in front of the goal.  In between these chances, Watford might have doubled their lead, with Hughes making ground on the right played the ball inside to Chalobah.  Ten yards out, he looked odds on to score until Toby dived in to block the ball, which ran to the left, where Sema was free, but managed to completely miss the ball as he attempted to swing a waist-high boot at it.

With ten minutes left, Serge Aurier limped off the pitch and down the tunnel, looking unlikely to return and leaving Spurs down to ten men, as the three subs had already been used.  Spurs stepped up their game and when Llorente received the ball on halfway, he laid off a neat first-time bal to his left to Lamela.  Making a run on the right of centre, Erik played the ball through to Dele in the box and as he moved to his left, Watford substitute Kabasele took his feet as he looked to shoot and the penalty could be the only outcome.  Seconds after, it became 10 v 10, as the defender saw red, with the referee sending him off, just three minutes after he had left the bench.  With no Harry Kane, Dele stepped up to take a captain's role and swept the ball to Gomes' right, just out of his reach, as it was well placed right in the corner of the net.  It was a fitting home-coming to lead the side and to score from the spot, but Dele had been around the game, but not always in the midst of it.

Son fell under a challenge and this time there was no pointing towards the spot by Mason, but  Llorente struck and effort  wide from 25 yards before doing his defensive duty by heading out a Watford corner.  The ball came to Lamela, who played a short square pass to Winks 20 yards from the Spurs goal.  Harry immediately found Mousa Dembele to his right and he powered  forward with the ball to the halfway line, where he released the ball into the path of Erik Lamela, who had sprinted ahead of the Watford defence, but was still behind the ball.  It was just inside the penalty area when he reached it and with Gomes bearing down on him he dinked the ball past the keeper first time.  For a moment, it looked as if it might drift wide, but the pace on the ball just beat the trailing defenders and went in just inside the post.

With four minutes to go, that looked that, but when Lamela lost the ball on halfway with two men around him, it was played down the Watford left to Success, who squared it for Mariappa.  He laid it to his left into the path of Capoue, who had come on as a substitute to score against his old side, with the massive help of a deflection off Davies' backside.  Once more, for the third time in three games, Spurs had conceded a late, late goal to allow Watford to level and with little time left, although there was four minutes of added time as Chalobah seemed unable to complete 90 minutes without going down regularly with cramp, there were few scares at either end.

Under the new rulings for the competition, it was straight to penalties and no extra time, so the players made their way to the centre circle, while the goalkeepers went in front of the Watford fans to await the takers.  First up was Isaac Success, who put his kick past Gazzaniga, before Spurs' first spot kick was fired in by SOn, sending Gomes the wrong way.  Heurelho had been regarded as a bit of a top penalty saver when he was at PSV Eindhoven, doing just that to knock us out of the UEFA Cup.  Etienne Capoue stepped up and must have been full of confidence after scoring the late leveller, but his penalty was poor - along the ground to Paulo's right and not that powerful, so the keeper guessed right and got behind it to grab it easily.  Lamela sent Gomes the wrong way to make it 2-1, then Hughes did the same for Watford and it was 2-2.  Fernando Llorente stepped up next to the horror of a few Spurs fans around me, but his shot was hard and high, but not too high - going in off the underside of the bar to put Tottenham ahead after three penalties each.  Former Iron Domingos Quinos was next for Watford and the youngster struck a poor penalty in the same place as Capoue, with the same result that Gazzaniga had a fairly easy save having gone the right way.

So, Tottenham led 3-2 and the next kick would win it if it went in.  Dele stepped forward to take the penalty and having taken one already, it was a game of bluff and double bluff with Gomes.  Dele put it in the same place as his penalty in normal time an d Gomes again went the right way, but the same outcome resulted, with the ball just beating the keeper's dive to his right and with that Spurs were through to the next round.  The players in the centre circle weren't jumping with joy like you see in major competitions, with the club surely not too happy as the game will have to be fitted in between the Manchester City game on the Monday (29th October) and Wolverhampton Wanderers on the Saturday.  It can't be carried over to the following midweek, as we have a Champions League match against PSV at home.

The experience at Stadium MK wasn't too bad, but getting home was a nightmare.  30 minutes getting out of the car park and then half an hour stuck on the M1 at Hemel Hempstead, as road-works took the motorway down to one lane and then everyone had to leave at that junction.  There is talk of playing the next round there too, but I will need a long think about going again, as I didn't get home until 20 to 1 in the morning.  When you have work the next day, it is not the ideal preparation, so maybe Tottenham will have a bit of consideration for the bulk of their fans and find another place to pay it.  It's not a bad ground though and the view was good, even from behind the goal. 

The performance was patchy, but better in parts, although the lack of ability to hang on to a lead was worrying.  There was a lot of criticism of players by fans around me.  I am not sure if they are regulars or locals who turned up for a cheap view of Premier League teams, but Sissoko always seems to cop it, even when he has a decent game.  Unfortunately, there will always be players who the majority of the crowd don't appreciate and while he isn't the greatest player to pull on a  Lilywhite shirt, he does a job and wearing that shirt, it might help him if people weren't on his back all the time.   Winks and Lamela also got stick and some didn't like Aurier's performance, which I thought was pretty good on the whole. He produced a marvellous tackle to stop Sema scoring and that was worth a goal at the other end in terms of the balance of play.

Anyway, Stadium MK has been ticked off now, so let's get back to the Lane as soon as we can and stop this Grand Tour of English football grounds as our 'home' and let's get "Back Home To White Hart Lane" as Chas and Dave might have said.

Dennis from Hertford

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What you thought
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Other scores during this round :
Arsenal 3 Brentford 1 Wednesday
Bournemouth 3 Blackburn Rovers 2 Tuesday
Blackpool 2 Queens Park Rangers 0 Tuesday
Burton Albion 2 Burnley 1 Tuesday
Preston North End 2 Middlesbrough   (won 4-3 on penalties) 2 Tuesday
West Bromwich Albion 0 Crystal Palace 3 Tuesday
Millwall 1 Fulham 3 Tuesday
Wycombe Wanderers 3 Norwich City 4 Tuesday
Liverpool 1 Chelsea 2 Wednesday
Oxford United 0 Manchester City 3 Tuesday
Manchester United 2 Derby County  (won 8-7 on penalties) 2 Tuesday
Nottingham Forest 3 Stoke City 2 Wednesday
West Ham United London 8 Macclesfield Town 0 Wednesday
Wolverhampton Wanderers  0 Leicester City  (won 3-1 on penalties) 0 Tuesday
Everton - - - -day
Southampton - - - -day


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