Craig Dawson frustrated after VAR decision meant Watford had to settle for draw at Tottenham Hotspur
Alli’s leveller (86) – after Abdoulaye Doucoure (6) had given Watford the lead – was reviewed by VAR for a potential handball and referee Chris Kavanagh signalled for a goal but the big-screen message, which is controlled by Stockley Park, stated that the goal had been ruled out. After some confusion, the goal was eventually given.
For Watford this was one of those so-near-yet-so-far days, but the commitment from his players gave heart to Quique Sánchez Flores. The league’s bottom side were far from the rabble of early season here and, had they been more decisive in one of several counterattacking opportunities, they might yet have secured their first win of the season.
For much of the game Watford’s midfield was everything Tottenham’s was not. Tom Cleverley was calm and organised, Nathaniel Chalobah clever and ambitious, while Doucoure was quite superb. Strong in the tackle, athletic in possession, and with a clever final pass, he ran the game.
And here’s the VAR bit. Two big calls. A penalty shout for Deulofeu in the first half, not given. Alli’s goal, not denied despite a handball in the build-up and a shove on Christian Kabasele. No view of either at the time, both at the far end… Deulofeu’s penalty looks nailed on, Alli’s “handball” at least plausibly interpretable as shoulder rather than arm. We didn’t get either decision, it was ever thus away at a big club, these things matter more because we’re so desperate for the points. On balance wringing our hands too much about the equaliser is misguided; Ben Foster should have cleaned it out, Kiko could have been more decisive, and however inspiring our performance and well-judged the strategy if you spend most of the game defending your penalty area you increase the opportunity for such a decision to go against you.
If we continue to play as well as we did on Saturday, we won’t be in the relegation zone for long. This was the first time that we have seen a convincing performance from the whole team. I hope that we bring that into the Bournemouth game and have Vicarage Road bouncing again.