EPL

Alli delivers for Spurs but Watford draw not quite what Pochettino ordered

By Sports Desk October 19, 2019

Prior to the home game against Watford, Mauricio Pochettino had pointed to a dinner invite from his Tottenham players as an indication of their continued support.

The offer was less about attending his last supper and instead a sign they remained strong as a unit, determined to turn around a campaign that had started unravelling rapidly prior to the international break, according to the defiant Spurs boss.

Against the Hornets, there was certainly no sign of a lack of effort from the team. The problem was more to do with the lack of a cutting edge, culminating in a 1-1 draw that stops the rot but offers little in the way of long-term optimism.

The fixture list had seemingly served up an appetising offer for Spurs to move on quickly from back-to-back defeats earlier in the month, too. If the 7-2 result against Bayern Munich in the Champions League was a shock to the system, going down 3-0 at Brighton and Hove Albion was tough to digest. They were better on Saturday, admittedly, but then that was hardly a tough bar to clear.

Watford arrived bottom of the table and without a win to their name. On six previous Premier League trips to Spurs – albeit at differing venues from their opponents' impressive new home – they had failed to collect a solitary point.

Yet had it not been for a late mix-up between goalkeeper Ben Foster and substitute Kiko Femenia, the visitors may well have departed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with all three.

Dele Alli capitalised on the gift to deliver a much-needed equaliser for Spurs. The goal was subsequently checked for handball, with VAR ruling the contact was high on his chest, rather than left arm. Even then there was further drama, the big screen displaying 'Decision No Goal' while the score read 1-1.

The confusion over their goal rather summed up Spurs' performance, though. They seemingly have all the required ingredients - remember they sprinkled in some new faces during the transfer window - but cannot quite find the recipe for success, particularly in attack.

Pochettino made seven changes to the starting XI – the most for the club between two Premier League games in a season – but saw the new-look line-up concede early, as was also the case against Brighton, in a listless first half.

Son Heung-min's half-time introduction added some much-needed life to proceedings, though they still required a helping hand – albeit not Alli's, according to VAR – for the equaliser.

Worryingly, Harry Kane had just 28 total touches in a game where his team enjoyed 69.6 per cent of possession. There were no shots on target either, as was also the case on that forgettable trip to the south coast a fortnight ago.

Goals are missing from the menu for Kane and Spurs in general - they have averaged one a game in their last six outings in all competition, and that includes an EFL Cup tie against League Two Colchester United.

"We're not panicking. We know the quality that we’ve got in this team, we believe in ourselves and the coaching staff are working hard every day. We’ve just got to make sure we show our character to get out of this patch we're in," Alli said to the club's website.

Spurs' determination to keep going against Watford suggests Pochettino was right to declare his squad remain firmly behind him.

Dinner may be a little more appetising for the Tottenham boss on Saturday night having avoided another embarrassing defeat, but a point against the competition's bottom side is still tough to stomach.

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    So could the future of the women's game be present in Paris? Well, finding Serena's heir is proving rather difficult.

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    ---

    Harber was designing clothing for the United States and British military in the late 1990s when he was hired by Nike to find a way of improving an athlete's performance in order for them to run at maximum velocity.

    He and MacDonald identified aerodynamics and the reduction of drag as the key element so they, along with Len Brownlie and Chester Kyle - two experts in the field - set about designing a suit that was composed of different fabrics for different parts of the body.

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    "The hood was key. You would never see a speed skater skating without a hood. If you've got hair, you're slowing yourself down. You see runners with big hair and you're like, 'What are you doing?'

    "You would never see a cyclist do that or a skater but it was a challenge for athletics, for running, because running has a look, it has a history, a heritage.

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    ---

    It was not just the speed skaters at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics who provided Harber and his team with inspiration for their suit. Freeman's attire in that 400m final looks like something that might have been lifted from a Marvel comic.

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    But that famous night in September 2000, the suit went on, the hood went up and Freeman ran into the history books.

    ---

    Given Freeman's glory and sport's obsession with marginal gains, it is somewhat surprising that her outfit did not spark a movement that saw the Swift Suit become widely adopted by athletes.

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    The science behind the suit has been used in outfits for speed skaters, cyclists and swimmers since, while sprinters have also benefitted from the technology with things such as arm sleeves that feature vortex generators.

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    "I think that's the main reason it hasn't been adopted is it's just not the look that athletics has. It's not something that people wear. 

    "I know that the benefit is real. I know it's something that is quantifiable. I believe it's something that is never going to go away and I think inevitably it's going to be around forever and I think athletes will always be thinking about it.

    "Maybe we were just ahead of our time."

    And the reason athletes will always be thinking about it is surely due to Cathy Freeman and are her indelible evening in Sydney on September 25, 2000.

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