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Tottenham undone by two set-pieces at Watford and must solve recurring problem
Deeney and Cathcart head Watford to fourth win
Last Updated: 03/09/18 6:27am
Tottenham suffered a surprise defeat at Watford on Sunday - but the goals they conceded came from a worryingly familiar source.
Spurs had gone ahead with a bizarre second-half own goal from Abdoulaye Doucoure, but Troy Deeney and Craig Cathcart struck back with headers from two set-pieces to end the visitors' perfect start to the Premier League season and make it four wins from four for the hosts.
It means all four goals Tottenham have let in this season have come from opposition headers but the concerning aspect for boss Mauricio Pochettino will be his side's failure to deal with dead-ball situations - an issue which has not been corrected since last season.
Here, we take a closer look at the problem…
Tottenham conceded two set-piece goals on Sunday, with Jose Holebas whipping in a wide free-kick and then a corner for Deeney and Cathcart to convert. Spurs could easily have let in another set-piece goal when Toby Alderweireld headed a free-kick against his own woodwork, too.
Last season, Spurs let in 12 set-piece goals which accounted for a third of the 36 they conceded in the Premier League.
That was the fourth highest percentage in the division and highlights Spurs' vulnerability from free-kicks and corners.
Goals conceded from headers - 2018/19 Premier League
This season two out of the four goals they have conceded came from set-pieces, although the other two were also headers, with Joselu nodding in a Matt Ritchie cross for Newcastle and Aleksandar Mitrovic converting from close range for Fulham.
Pochettino could not hide his frustration with his side in his post-match interview with Sky Sports and questioned his players' desire to get on the end of the ball at defensive corners and free-kicks.
Pochettino: "In two set pieces we concede two goals. If you want to be a contender, if you want to be on top, you cannot concede this type of action.
"In every single game in the Premier League this situation will happen playing with any team and you need to show more strength. That situation is when you really show that you want to win.
"I'm of course disappointed with the result but it is the reality and the reality is so clear and everyone saw the reality."
The pundit verdict
In analysing Watford's first goal, Deeney's header from a Holebas free-kick from out wide, Sky Sports pundits Graeme Souness and Craig Bellamy agreed Tottenham had set their defensive line too high and given an advantage to the attackers.
Bellamy: "It's the Spurs high line. That's ok, a lot of teams look to do that. But once you're that high there's only one place you're going to go: you're going to drop. The ball isn't a great ball, it's not a dangerous ball, but by the Spurs defenders dropping instinctively without even watching the flight of the ball it allows Deeney to drop into that area and he has a free header.
"If you're just a yard deeper, at least you're able to come and attack it then. The gap between the back line and the goalkeeper was so big."
By the Spurs defenders dropping instinctively without even watching the flight of the ball, it allows Deeney to drop into that area and he has a free header.
Souness: "They were doing it all game, Tottenham. It's a big gap for the kicker to aim for. The ball for Deeney's goal wasn't where he wanted to put it, he wanted to put it between the goalkeeper and the last defender.
"Personally I'd prefer it if they are two or three yards deeper, so there's less space for the kicker to hit between the last defender and the goalkeeper, but still give the keeper room to come and get the ball. There's a better a chance that a defender will be on the front foot to go and head the ball, rather than going back towards his own goal."
For Watford's second goal, Souness believes Spurs' Moussa Dembele will ultimately be held responsible for allowing his man, Cathcart, to score, but says it underlines the commitment Watford had to get the decisive touch. Fellow pundit Jermain Defoe, meanwhile, questioned the lack of leadership among Spurs players.
Souness: "I think Dembele is at fault here. Tottenham could have done better. Cathcart just seems to stand his ground then move. There's a bit of holding going on there but Dembele doesn't hold on long enough! That's Watford.
"You might call it scruffy or fortunate but they'll get goals like that. Watford have got a lot of people who will put their heads where a lot of people won't put their feet and take a blow for the cause."
It wasn't a bad performance but Watford made it difficult and Spurs need to be more aggressive.
Defoe: "Look at the set-pieces. You concede one and that's where your leaders stand up. 'We're not conceding again from a set piece'. It wasn't a bad performance but Watford made it difficult and they need to be more aggressive. The leaders in the group have to lead."
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