Kyle Walker says the team spirit at Tottenham is the strongest he has known it as Watford prepare to try to dent Spurs’ Premier League title challenge on Saturday.
The north London side sit third in the table, five points behind leaders Leicester City, with Mauricio Pochettino’s men well placed to challenge for a first league title since 1961.
Right-back Walker has played under Harry Redknapp, Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood at White Hart Lane.
But the England international claims former Espanyol and Southampton boss Pochettino has fostered the most powerful unity he has experienced since moving to Tottenham in 2009.
“In my seven years here, now is the best it’s been and it’s a fantastic atmosphere to play in,” he told the club’s website.
“I don’t think there are any egos in the dressing room – everyone is on a level playing field, whether you’re starting or you’re not getting as many games as you want to. The manager is top class and he gets the best out of you – if you aren’t getting the best out of yourself then he’ll let you know.”
Spurs defeated struggling Norwich City 3-0 away on Tuesday but are likely to encounter a tougher test in the visit of Watford, who earned a gritty 0-0 draw against Chelsea at Vicarage Road a day later.
Tottenham are getting used to life without Jan Vertonghen after the Belgian centre-back, a key part of their strong form throughout 2015-16, suffered a medial knee ligament strain late last month that will keep him out for up to eight weeks.
Rising star Dele Alli has been undergoing tests to determine the cause of recent dizziness, which saw the scorer of the opening goal withdrawn after the first half at Carrow Road, although Pochettino is hopeful the 19-year-old will feature this weekend.
Watford are ninth and 12 points clear of the relegation zone but defender Sebastian Prodl wants his team-mates to ensure they do not find themselves in unexpected difficulty during the final months of the campaign.
“We feel very confident, but we don’t want to feel comfortable,” he told Watford’s website.
“It’s a good situation at the moment, but we have to be careful because the Premier League is very hard.
“We have to take points from our next games, otherwise we can get problems in the end and that’s not what we are working for in the last months.
“We have to concentrate and be focused in the next games to get the points and to be safe as soon as possible.”
Both teams have relatively few injury problems to contend with. Miguel Britos missed Watford’s last match due to illness but could return for this one, while Ryan Mason is nearing a Spurs comeback after being sidelined since November with an ankle problem. Clinton N’Jie is not due to recover fully from a knee issue until March.
Key Opta stats:
– Tottenham have lost just four of their last 25 Premier League games at White Hart Lane (W14 D7 L4), but two of these have come since the start of December.
– Watford have not won any of their last eight meetings with Spurs in all competitions (W0 D2 L6).
– Spurs have recovered more points than any other team in the Premier League from losing positions this season (14).
– Watford have recovered just two points from losing positions this season, which is fewer than any other side.
– Mauricio Pochettino’s side have allowed fewer shots on target against them in 2016 than any other team in the Premier League (13 in five games).
– Harry Kane has scored 14 goals in his last 15 Premier League appearances – this after scoring just three in his 17 league apps prior to that run.
– Without Harry Kane’s 15 Premier League goals this season, Tottenham Hotspur would be one point worse off.
– Son Heung-Min’s two Premier League goals this season – one of which was a winner against Watford in December – have won Spurs four points.
– The Hornets have failed to score in three of their last four Premier League games.
– Odion Ighalo has been directly involved in seven of Watford’s last 11 Premier League goals (scoring six and assisting another).