Craig Cathcart headed Watfords winner as the Hornets came from behind to defeat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Vicarage Road
Mauricio Pochettino could not contain the frustration. The Tottenham manager had spent much of the time since last Mondays 3-0 win at Manchester United warning his players that they could not be taken in by the result.
There was a difference, he said, between the perception that Spurs were flying and the reality that they could just as easily have lost at Old Trafford. They had not played well in the first half. The bottom line was that they had to impose themselves from the first whistle against Watford and remain strong throughout.
The message rang hollow after Spurs played, to quote Pochettino, as if the first half were a friendly and, after they had been handed the boost of a freakish Abdoulaye Doucour own goal, they proceeded to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
In short, as Pochettino made clear, Tottenham cannot be considered as Premier League title contenders on this evidence.
His angst was Watfords joy. They had been even worse in the first half, having attempted to match their better-heeled rivals in footballing terms. But they found the fire in their bellies after they fell behind. They bullied Tottenham on a couple of Jos Holebas set pieces, with first Troy Deeney and then Craig Cathcart meting out the punishment with fine headers.
To the delight of Elton John, who sat in the posh seats, and every one of their other supporters, it was Watford rather than Tottenham who maintained their 100% start to the season. It is four wins out of four for them in the league and, for the first time since 1987, Watford triumphed in this fixture.
Its so painful to concede two goals like we did and its so painful that the first half looks like a friendly, Pochettino said. We needed to go out there like a lion. But it was like: OK, we play football, we play football. Show aggression!
When you score, you keep going, playing the same way but we started to change and play long balls. Then we conceded two goals that if you want to be a contender, you cannot concede. You need to show your strength. The reality is that if you want to be a contender, today we needed to win. And win easily because everything was ready to win the game.
We need to show more respect to this competition and compete much, much better. Its difficult for me to understand. It was very painful. I think its a good wake-up call for everyone.
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