Weblog: The football punter

Alli could land knockout blow for Tottenham

There wasn't a great deal of optimism at Vicarage Road this summer after Watford claimed a solitary win in their final nine games of the last Premier League season, but that seems a long time ago now.

Javi Gracia's side have got their fourth successive season in the top flight off to a cracking start with victories over Brighton, Burnley and Crystal Palace.

They are attacking with fluency and defending with grit, so it seems realistic that they will be able to eclipse last season's finish of 14th if they can resist what has become their customary slump around the time the clocks go forward.

However, it now gets tougher as the Hertfordshire club host a team who they have not beaten in ten Premier League attempts and who will be buzzing themselves following an excellent 3-0 victory at Manchester United on Monday.

United boss Jose Mourinho was keen to emphasise positives from his team's performance against Tottenham, but Mauricio Pochettino's side ruthlessly pounced upon mistakes and claimed a landmark victory which drew parallels with their excellent 3-1 win at Chelsea last season.

The returning Toby Alderweireld was excellent at the heart of the Spurs defence but Lucas Moura was the star of the show and his pace gives Tottenham another dimension.

Heung-Min Son could have his work cut out fighting his way back into the team when he returns from the Asian Games.

But Tottenham will have to show similar conviction and organisation in what is never an easy trip for them despite their decent record against the Hornets.

They have shown they can cope with absentees in the past - they have not been knocked off their stride too much by a couple of Harry Kane injuries in the last few seasons and concern about their defence when Alderweireld was injured last autumn was tempered by the emergence of Davinson Sanchez.

However, it is a downgrade fielding Michel Vorm in goal in place of Hugo Lloris, who is out with a thigh injury.

The Dutchman simply doesn't command his area in the same manner as the World Cup-winning captain and it remains to be seen whether the solid defence display the same confidence with the former Swansea custodian - who has won in four of his 11 league appearance for Spurs - between the posts.

Lloris's injury is a concern and gives Watford hope that an aerial assault may pay dividends, although striker Andre Gray will have to be involved more than he has been at times this season.

At the other end, it has been noticeable that Dele Alli has been pushing forward to a greater extent to support Kane, much more effectively than he did at the World Cup.

More assured finishing could have seen the England midfielder score a couple of goals at Old Trafford and, with four goals in his last four appearances against Watford, it may not be long before he starts taking his opportunities.

D Alli first goalscorer

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Match in Focus

17:30 Tu 25Sep BT2

W Bremen v Hertha Berlin

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Bremen are unbeaten in their last ten home games against Hertha
Expert verdict
Two of the Bundesliga's unbeaten teams go head-to-head at the Weserstadion and they might be happy to settle for a share of the spoils. Second-placed Hertha Berlin are doing more than anyone to keep tabs on leaders Bayern but they haven't won away to Werder Bremen since 2006.