Quique Sanchez Flores believes Watford are laying the foundations for a strong Premier League future as they prepare to host Tottenham on Monday.
The Spaniard’s team have impressed upon their return to the top flight and occupy seventh place, just three points adrift of Mauricio Pochettino’s side in fourth.
Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Chelsea ended Watford’s four-match winning streak, but Tottenham will travel to Vicarage Road to face the Premier League’s form side, who have taken 13 points from their last 15 available.
Key to Watford’s strong form this term has been a series of resilient showings on home turf, where they have conceded just six goals in nine games.
Odion Ighalo – who set a new club record by netting in a fifth straight Premier League match at Chelsea – and Troy Deeney have scored 19 goals between them so far this season, but Flores has been delighted by their role in keeping things tight.
“They had the mission to stop Chelsea’s midfielders,” Flores said.
“They had to disturb them individually and [Cesc] Fabregas was brought off at half-time, so that means they did amazingly in terms of their defence.
“When we attack we do it with 11 players and, when we defend, we defend with 11 players also.
“For a team like us that’s important. I would love to have the ball all the time but it isn’t always possible.
“We are building a team and building the philosophy of the team. We are on the right road so we are happy.”
Heading to Watford, Tottenham will take confidence from a run of seven Premier League away matches without defeat.
Furthermore, a 3-0 win over Norwich City on Boxing Day means Pochettino’s team have only been beaten once in their last 17 top-flight fixtures.
The Argentine, however, acknowledged the string of excellent performances Watford have put together and expects a difficult encounter.
“[It is a] different challenge. We need to analyse the team and the physical condition of different players,” Pochettino said.
“It’s true that the results Watford have taken so far are fantastic. We will expect a very tough game because they are a very tough team.
“A lot of teams play a 4-4-2 like Watford, but they may use a different system against us.
“We will see. We need to be ready and there’s not too much time to prepare for the game. We know each other well.”
Nathan Ake is available for Watford again after sitting out the match against his parent club Chelsea, so Jose Holebas may be displaced in Flores’ starting line-up.
Mousa Dembele (foot) was withdrawn in the closing stages of Spurs’ victory over Norwich and is a doubt for Pochettino, while Clinton N’Jie (knee) is a long-term absentee.
Key Opta stats:
– Watford are unbeaten in their last five league home games against Tottenham (W2 D3).
– This will be the first Premier League meeting between managers Mauricio Pochettino and Quique Sanchez Flores – their first ever meeting in La Liga saw Flores’ Atletico Madrid side beat Pochettino’s Espanyol outfit 4-0 at home (November, 2009).
– Watford have kept six clean sheets in their nine Premier League home games so far in 2015-16.
– Since losing away to Manchester United on MD1 (0-1), Tottenham are unbeaten away from home in the Premier League (W3 D4).
– Watford’s last win over Tottenham in all competitions was a 3-2 League Cup victory at White Hart Lane in October 1994.