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Watford 1-4 Tottenham player ratings: 9/10 Kieran Trippier unlucky to miss out on MOTM, Kaboul 4/10 despite goal

Tottenham Hotspur started 2017 with a bang by wiping the floor with a shambolic Watford side at Vicarage Road on New Year’s Day.

Harry Kane marked with 100th Premier League appearance by scoring twice – both set up by Kieran Trippier on his first top-flight start of the 2016-17 campaign.

Dele Alli also bagged a brace, taking his Prem tally to eight goals for the season.

Spurs, who have now scored four goals in consecutive away league games for the first time since 1960, climb above Manchester City and Arsenal (who play later) into third place, while Watford drop to 13th below West Ham United on account of their goal difference taking a bashing.

As it happened

Watford were forced into a tactical reshuffle before kick-off, with Juan Zuniga injured in the warm-up. Odion Ighalo replaced him in the starting XI as Watford opted to play with two strikers.

Meanwhile, Spurs tweaked their formation too, going with a 3-4-2-1 system, featuring Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier and Kevin Wimmer at the back, with Danny Rose and Trippier playing further forward as wing-backs.

After a hectic and untidy first five minutes, Son Heung-min fired in the first shot of the game, but his fierce effort from long range was well held by Heurelho Gomes.

Watford had a lucky escape moments later when Etienne Capoue, with arms flailing, handled a Christian Eriksen shot in the penalty area, before failing to the ground and holding his face in an attempt to look less guilty. Referee Michael Oliver was seemingly sold and refused to award a spot kick.

Spurs kept their cool and continued to dominate. Rose and Eriksen fired warning shots just over the bar, before Alli rattled the woodwork with a spectacular 30-yard effort.

A Tottenham breakthrough was inevitable and it came on 27 minutes when Trippier – who scored the winner as Spurs beat Watford 1-0 at White Hart Lane last season – slid a perfect angled pass through to Kane and the England frontman slotted past Gomes at his near post.

Trippier set up Kane again as Spurs doubled their lead six minutes later. This time the former Burnley full-back swung in an inviting cross from the right for Kane to emphatically prod home inside the six-yard box.

This was Kane’s 100th Premier League appearance and he was bossing it. After doing the business in attack, Kane donated a few seconds of his time to defend a set-piece and came up with a vital clearance just as Troy Deeney looked to punish a poor header by Alderweireld.

Son should have made it 3-0 before half time, but he volleyed wide following a fine Eriksen free kick.

Spurs were three up by the interval, anyway, thanks to Alli, who capitalised on a Younes Kaboul mis-kick to notch his fourth goal in three games.

The mood around Vicarage Road was largely one of New Year disappointment and frustration. The latter was expressed by Jose Holebas in the dying seconds of the first half as the Greece international went in late on Eriksen to pick up the first yellow card of the game.

Whatever Watford manager Walter Mazzarri, or his translator, said to his players at half time did not work because Spurs hit their fourth within 58 seconds of the second half getting underway. Kane’s cross from the right touchline found Alli, who snuck a low shot beyond Gomes. Make that five in three games.

Dele Alli v Watford

Spurs were relentless. Instead of settling for the already-healthy result and going through the motions, they sensed blood and piled forward in search of more goals.

Kane clearly wanted a hat-trick, but saw his crafty free kick tipped wide by Gomes, while Alli’s hopes of scoring for a third time were ended by his manager when Mauricio Pochettino brought him off for Harry Winks with 30 minutes remaining, presumably with Wednesday’s game against Chelsea in mind.

With similar reasoning, Pochettino then gave Danny Rose the final 22 minutes off. However, it was the Watford sub made at the same time that was slightly more significant. Holebas was replaced by teenage defender Brandon Mason, who earned the biggest cheer of the afternoon from the home fans when he raced back to deny Son a clean shot on goal.

With Spurs continuing to cut Watford open almost at will, Pochettino removed Kane to give summer signing Vincent Janssen a golden chance to score his first open-play goal for the club.

Janssen was unable to find the net though. Instead, it was Watford who surprisingly scored the game’s fifth and final goal, with Kaboul bundling over the line after some penalty-box pinball.

Player ratings

Watford: Gomes 5; Kaboul 4, Prodl 4, Cathcart 5; Amrabat 5, Capoue 5, Guedioura 6, Holebas 5; Doucoure 6, Ighalo 5; Deeney 6.

Mason 6 (on for Holebas on 68 mins), Sinclair 5 (on for Amrabat on 75 mins), Kabasele 6 (on for Capoue on 79 mins).

Spurs: Lloris 6; Alderweireld 6, Wimmer 7, Dier 7; Trippier 9, Wanyama 7, Eriksen 8, Rose 7; Dele 9, Son 7; Kane 10.

Winks 6 (on for Alli on 61 mins), Davies 6 (on for Rose on 68 mins), Janssen 5 (on for Kane on 77 mins).

Man of the match

Trippier was excellent and is desperately unlucky to only be the bridesmaid here, but Kane scored two, made one and even completed more dribbles than any other player on the pitch.

More Stories Brandon Mason Christian Eriksen Danny Rose Dele Alli Eric Dier Etienne Capoue Heurelho Gomes Juan Zuniga Kevin Wimmer Mauricio Pochettino Michael Oliver Odion Ighalo Son Heung-min Toby Alderweireld Troy Deeney Vincent Janssen Walter Mazzarri younes kaboul