Will Hughes

Premier League Preview: Watford v. Tottenham Hotspur
Premier League Preview: Watford v. Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League Preview: Watford v. Tottenham Hotspur

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Watford begins a run of three matches in five days with a visit from Tottenham Hotspur to Vicarage Road on Saturday (Watch Live at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The resurgent Hornets have climbed out of the Bottom Three under new boss Nigel Pearson. The challenge now comes in the form of a postponed FA Cup replay means they face Spurs, Aston Villa, and Tranmere Rovers by Thursday.

And if the Hornets beat Tranmere, they host Manchester United three days later.


“The planning’s done for the week,” Pearson said. “But outside of that we’ve got to also be prepared for variables we don’t know about at the minute and that would be potential injuries and anything else and it makes it even clearer that I’m not going to send the strongest side to play Tranmere.”

Spurs will welcome any advantage, as Jose Mourinho’s side is winless in three league matches and played a replay with Middlesbrough on Tuesday.

Tottenham has dropped nine points back of the Top Four and four back of fifth place Manchester United. The club is waiting on several transfer issues, including wantaway Christian Eriksen and the absence of suitable fill-in for injured Harry Kane.

Mourinho said there’s been no offer yet from Inter Milan for Christian Eriksen, and that Giovani Lo Celso‘s loan will likely be made permanent.

How Mourinho uses new loanee Gedson Fernandes will be interesting, as the Portuguese midfielder may start for his countryman.


Watford: OUT — Tom Cleverley, Kiko Femenia, Danny Welbeck. QUESTIONABLE — Will Hughes.

Spurs: OUT — Moussa Sissoko, Harry Kane. QUESTIONABLE — Ben Davies, Tanguy Ndombele, Hugo Lloris

Probable lineups

Watford: Foster, Masina, Cathcart, Dawson, Mariappa, Capoue, Chalobah, Deulofeu, Doucoure, Sarr, Deeney.

Spurs: Gazzaniga, Aurier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Rose, Aurier, Winks, Fernandes, Son, Lucas, Dele.

What they’re saying

Nigel Pearson on the Tranmere postponement: “To get up there and find their kit man hadn’t bothered setting out their kit because he knew it would be off is a bit of a frustration for us because we travelled up and a lot of our fans had got to Northampton by the time that they found out, so it is a frustration and it adds on to what’s already a hectic week next week.”

Jose Mourinho on loan signing Gedson Fernandes: “He’s a kid that can play different positions in midfielder, even wide on the right if we need. We got him for his multi-functionality. He’s what I used to call a special loan. He’s not a three month loan and goodbyes. One-and-a-half year loan when he’ll have time to develop, and who knows if he doesn’t stay here for a number of years.”


Spurs get a bit of relief and Watford a mild reality check in a 1-0 decision.

Foster, Watford take point off hosts Sheffield United

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Watford is out of the basement following a 1-1 draw with Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Gerard Deulofeu scored for the Hornets, who are six points back of safety but one better than 20th place Norwich City.

Oliver Norwood converted a penalty for the hosts, as Chris Wilder‘s men sit sixth with 29 points.

Three things we learned

1. Blades unrewarded: Sheffield United’s calling card this year has been hard work and defensive organization, but the Blades could not find a winner against Watford despite 57 percent of the ball and a 16-5 edge in shot attempts. Blades even won the tackle battle, snapping off 18 to Watford’s eight, but only a point came to Bramall Lane.

2. Deulofeu will be key to Hornets hopes… The Spaniard wasn’t particularly good, but Deulofeu remains one of the few Watford players capable of making a moment count for something big.

3. As will Ben Foster: American actor Ben Foster has starred in a few superhero movies, so it’s fitting that his Premier League namesake has been unreal in trying to keep the Hornets in the top flight. Speaking of flight, he was airborne for a number of big saves. All three came inside the box, including this phenomenal defiance of Lys Mousset.

Man of the Match: Foster.

Nigel Pearson‘s Hornets are showing fight, but more importantly finding the back of the goal.

Watford scored on one of its first proper chances, a Ben Foster goal kick flicked to Deulofeu by Chalobah. The Spaniard made the most of his opportunity for a 26th minute lead.

The advantage lasted 11 minutes, as George Baldock won a penalty off Will Hughes and VAR said the call was good. Norwood dispatched the penalty for 1-1.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Lys Mousset came off the bench and forced another fine save out of Foster, one which had to have Chris Wilder wondering if his Blades could find a winner.

Salah’s magic leads Liverpool past Watford

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A shaky Liverpool beat bottom-side Watford 2-0 at Anfield on Saturday as they are now unbeaten in the Premier League in 34 games.

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But this was far from comfortable for Jurgen Klopp‘s side. Watford wasted several glorious chances as new manager Nigel Pearson had an immediate impact but Mohamed Salah scored in each half to seal the win. It was also Liverpool’s first home clean sheet of the season as they have three-straight shutouts in all competitions.

With the win Liverpool move 11 points clear, momentarily, at the top of the table on 49 points, while Watford remain bottom on nine points.

3 things we learned

1. Sluggish Liverpool grind it out: It wasn’t pretty, especially in the first half, but Liverpool got the job done. That has been the story of their incredible season so far. Klopp’s side have now won 16 of their 17 games this season and are unbeaten but Klopp’s side lacked energy in the attacking third and maybe that is to be expected after their draining win in Salzburg on Tuesday. This was another case of grinding it out and like all title-winning teams, Liverpool have the knack of doing just enough to get over the line. In past seasons they’ve played so much better but dropped points in games like this.

2. Watford squander glorious chances: New manager Nigel Pearson will be filled with optimism by the way his team played, especially in the first half. He will also be concerned with the lack of confidence the Premier League’s lowest goalscorers have in front of goal. Doucoure and Sarr were guilty of missing big chances and for all over their energetic play in midfield and excellent deliveries from out wide, Watford failed to make the most of it. The Hornets know it will be a tough battle to stay up this season but if they can keep creating as many chances as they did against Liverpool they will give themselves a fighting chance.

3. Injuries begin to hit hard: Wijnaldum joined Liverpool’s growing injury list, as he joins Lovren, Matip and Fabinho on the sidelines, while the likes of Alisson and Salah have only recently returned to full fitness. The long-hard grind of competing in multiple competitions has sucked the life out of Liverpool, as they now face Aston Villa in the League Cup quarterfinal on Tuesday with one team and another squad of players fly out to Qatar for the Club World Cup semifinal on Wednesday. Liverpool face Leicester, Wolves, Sheffield United, Tottenham, Man United and Wolves in their next six PL games. They will need to keep players fit to get through that tough stretch of games unscathed.

Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah – Had the extra bit of quality to win the game and always looked dangerous on the last shoulder of the Watford defense. The Egyptian king is back fully fit and almost back to his best.

The first big chance of the game arrived for Watford as Ismaila Sarr‘s cross from the right was just missed by Troy Deeney who came flying in at the near post.

Liverpool eventually got going as Trent Alexander-Arnold whipped in plenty of dangerous balls from the right and Mane then sparked an attack but Jordan Henderson fired over.

Will Hughes then dragged a shot wide for Watford as the Hornets held their own in the first half as Virgil Van Dijk cleared after Abdoulaye Doucoure ran into the box and sent in a cross. Doucoure then totally missed the ball from a good position as Watford were more dangerous than the hosts.

But Liverpool then scored with their first, and only, shot on goal in the first half as they hit Watford on the counter. Firmino and Mane set up Salah and the Egyptian winger curled home a superb shot into the far corner.

Right on half time Watford should have levelled as a cross into the box found Sarr but he fluffed his lines badly at the Kop end as his new manager Nigel Pearson was left shaking his head in disbelief.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

At the start of the second half it seemed like Liverpool had doubled their lead as Xherdan Shaqiri whipped in a superb cross which Mane headed home, but VAR checked the goal and Mane’s hip was offside.

Watford had a glorious chance on the break to equalize as Gerard Deulofeu was played in but Allison came out and stood tall to keep Liverpool ahead.

Liverpool had various half chances during the rest of the game as Salah and Firmino tried to put the game to bed but Georginio Wijnaldum had to come off injured and the flow of the game was impacted.

After a defensive mix-up Watford’s Deulofeu whipped in a corner which hit the post as Liverpool looked nervous late on, but Salah then flicked home superbly to make it 2-0 and seal yet another win for the Reds.

Watch Live: Liverpool v. Watford

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Liverpool host Watford at Anfield on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as top play bottom in the Premier League.


Fresh from signing a new contract extension, Jurgen Klopp‘s side are flying high with an eight-point lead at the summit. This is the start of a busy week as they play Aston Villa in the League Cup quarterfinal on Tuesday and then their Club World Cup semifinals against on Wednesday in Qatar as Klopp will put out two separate teams.

As for Watford, their new manager Nigel Pearson is in charge for his first game as Hornets boss as they currently sit six points from safety with just one win so far this season. That said, Pearson knows a thing or two about great escapes as he led Leicester to safety thanks to a dramatic comeback in 2014-15.

In team news Liverpool start with Xherdan Shaqiri in midfield, Joe Gomez at center back and James Milner at left back as Klopp shuffles his pack and copes with injuries.

Watford make two changes with Will Hughes and Adrian Mariappa come into the starting lineup.


Abraham leads Chelsea past Watford; Pulisic scores again

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Tammy Abraham had a goal and an assist as Chelsea won its fifth-straight Premier League outing, getting another goal from Christian Pulisic in a 2-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Chelsea will finish the weekend with a six-point cushion on fifth place, now sitting third with 23 points.

Watford got a late penalty from Gerard Deulofeu, awarded by VAR, to score its goal. The Hornets remain dead last with five points through 11 matches.

Three things we learned

1. Abraham the genuine article: The Championship loan high-flyer might’ve entered this season with five Premier League goals from a Swansea City loan, but his bonafides are undoubtable now. Abraham calmly converted Jorginho‘s amazing early cross before setting up Pulisic for a goal in the second half. The 22-year-old now has nine goals and two assists in just over 800 league minutes this season.

2. Watford a one-man show: Maybe a long-awaited return for Troy Deeney can do the trick for winless Watford, but every single promising moment of Saturday’s match came from Gerard Deulofeu. There are other players with promise, including Will Hughes, but Roberto Pereyra, Abdoulaye Doucoure, and Andre Gray were absent. That had a lot to do with trying to meet Chelsea’s attacking energy, but it doesn’t make it any easier to be a Watford supporter.

3. Pulisic keeps league run going: The American winger was charged with being very active in the wide areas and took a satisfactory first half to another level when he doubled Chelsea’s lead. Pulisic adjusts his back post to cut in front of Christian Kabasele and add a fourth goal to his Premier League collection.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch ]

Man of the Match: This one is tough. Mateo Kovacic was a beast, and Abraham weighed in on both goals. But Pulisic’s stat line was also complete, and he honestly was as important as any Blue. Ben Foster really was the reason this match wasn’t a blowout. We’re going to give it to Abraham.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Too easy.

That’s the only way to describe Chelsea’s opener, with Jorginho sweeping a cross around the back of Watford’s back four and Abraham timing his run to pop the ball over a charging Ben Foster for 1-0.

Chalobah fired a shot to Kepa Arrizabalaga after Kurt Zouma mishit a cross in the 16th minute.

Pulisic headed Willian‘s corner toward the back post in the 19th minute, but Ben Foster leapt backward to make a fantastic fingertip save.

Gerard Deulofeu drove a shot wide of the far post in the 39th.

Foster made another fine save when Mason Mount tore into an effort from distance just before halftime.

Deulofeu led another break after halftime, but it ended with a superb block from Kurt Zouma.

Willian cued up a Chelsea chance, but Foster made a good stop on a Mount rip.

If anyone was going to get Watford on the board, it was Deulofeu. VAR said he was caught by Jorginho, sending the Spaniard to the spot in the 80th. He rolled it in.

Kepa Arrizabalaga made a diving save on a flying Foster header — yes, you read that right — on the final play of the night.