Weblog: The football punter

Kane to impress in clash with struggling Hornets

Premier League
Sky Sports Premier League, 8pm Monday

Harry Kane has endured a character assassination in recent weeks since claiming the controversial goal at Stoke but the Tottenham striker has the perfect opportunity to silence the critics when Watford visit Wembley.

Kane appears to have taken the mocking to heart, yet his determination to win the Golden Boot for a third straight season could point punters towards backing him to narrow the gap on Mohamed Salah by scoring at least twice.

Salah is five clear of Kane, who smashed in successive hat-tricks against Leicester and Hull in garbage time of last season to overhaul Romelu Lukaku in the top-goalscorer rankings.

It's a clear target again - otherwise why go to so much trouble to take Christian Eriksen's effort off him at Stoke? - and mid-table Watford could be the perfect cannon fodder to get Kane his first brace since he hit a double against Everton on January 13.

That was the 11th occasion in his opening 28 matches of the season on which Kane had scored at least twice for Spurs and Mauricio Pochettino needs a big performance from his main man after Chelsea narrowed the gap to two points in the race for Champions League qualification.

However, this looks an ideal opportunity to return to winning ways and lift the mood around the club following the painful FA Cup semi-final defeat at the hands of Manchester United last time out.

Spurs have won seven of their last eight league games at Wembley, while Watford have a wretched road record, particularly against the big six. They have already lost 3-1 at Manchester City, 5-0 at Liverpool, 4-2 at Chelsea and 3-0 at Arsenal.

The Hornets have collected one point from their last ten away matches and failed to score in eight of those.

Motivation may not be a problem with the match at Wembley and Javi Gracia is talking a good game as he aims to beat mid-table Watford's best Premier League finish of 13th spot.

Gracia earned a reputation in a previous job with Malaga of being able to set a side up defensively, frustrating elite clubs such as Barcelona and Real Madrid. But injuries have hampered his ability to get any kind of pattern of play to Watford's game.

The manager hopes influential forward Troy Deeney will recover in time to to feature but defensively they have it all on to nullify the threat of Kane, Eriksen and Dele Alli.

Watford's chances of landing the odd counter-attacking punch will improve should Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra recover from their problems but early-season wonder Richarlison has gone cold, losing his place in the side with his last goal coming in November.

H Kane to score at least two goals

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Match in Focus

19:45 Sa 26May

Real Madrid v Liverpool

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Real have won just one of their last four Champions League meetings against English opposition
Expert verdict
Real Madrid have lifted the Champions League in three of the past four seasons but they could struggle to retain their crown against a lively Liverpool. Real have been the dominant force in Europe, with last year’s 4-1 thumping of Juventus in the final in Cardiff showcasing their superiority. However, Zinedine Zidane’s men have not bumped into a front three like the Reds’ often - Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have netted 29 of their 40 Champions League goals this season - and they are vulnerable to the counter-attack.