Three key battles to watch-out for as Tottenham travel to Watford
Tottenham will be looking to capitalise on any slip-ups from Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City in the places above them as they take the short trip across London to face Watford on Sunday.
In their last outing at Southampton a few days ago, Spurs put in a commanding if not completely convincing performance as they ran out 4-1 winners, with a Dele Alli double and a Nathan Redmond red card enough to consolidate their Champions League challenge.
The hosts travelled to Crystal Palace on Boxing Day and faced Sam Allardyce in his first match in charge, with Troy Deeney’s 100th goal for the Hornets enough to secure a share of the spoils.
Below we analyse where the key battles will take place across the pitch at Vicarage Road.
Troy Deeney vs Eric Dier
With Kyle Walker and Jan Vertonghen out through suspension and first-team centre-back Toby Alderweireld a serious doubt for the trip to Watford, it will most likely be the job of England’s Eric Dier to return to the heart of defence and keep Troy Deeney quiet.
Dier, who started alongside Vertonghen in the 4-1 win over Southampton, will reprise the role he played for Spurs during his breakthrough season in the Premier League but will have his work cut out when faced with a Deeney full of confidence.
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Despite not being in as prolific form this season as last year, only scoring four times in his 18 appearances, Deeney will still be living off the back of his 100th Watford goal which he netted against Crystal Palace.
The Hornets’ striker will be a handful for Dier with his sheer physicality and stubborn style of play; Deeney’s an old-school striker, who will hold the ball up and muscle his way past defenders, and the natural ability that Vertonghen has to deal with this could prove a costly absence.
With 21 chances created this season for his side (including three assists), Deeney also provides a threat playing the supportive role for strike-partner Odion Ighalo, and Dier will need to be wary.