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Walker and Vertonghen out of Watford game

Watford’s daunting task of stopping Tottenham Hotspur got that little bit easier tonight after two key Spurs players picked up bookings against Southampton, ruling them out of the game on New Year’s Day.

Kyle Walker and Jan Vertonghen were cautioned by Mike Dean at St Mary’s, meaning Mauricio Pochettino will have to do without them for the game at Vicarage Road. Kieran Trippier will replace Walker while Kevin Wimmer could come in for Vertonghen, unless Pochettino decides to rush back Toby Alderweireld from injury. Mousa Dembele was also booked for a fifth time this season but one of those yellows came in the Champions League.

Watford have suspension worries of their own in defence: Miguel Britos will be missing after he picked up his fifth booking of the season, against Crystal Palace. Craig Cathcart, who has not featured since September 26, and Christian Kabasele are both vying to join Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Prodl in Walter Mazzarri’s favoured back-three system.

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Michael Oliver will officiate this game which is the first after the yellow card amnesty kicks in, a relief for Troy Deeney who was one away from an automatic ban. However, a player receiving ten yellows by the end of the season will still be given a ban, so Jose Holebas, who has eight, needs to tread extremely carefully as he’s two yellows away from a two-match ban.

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This will be the third time this season that Oliver has taken charge of a Watford game. He was the man in the middle for the memorable 3-1 win over Manchester United and also the whistle-blower for the 6-1 hiding at Anfield. He’s fairly lenient when it comes to officiating Watford matches, dishing out just 15 yellows in nine Watford games, which is probably just as well as the Hornets still top the disciplinary table.

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Watford’s yellow card tally

Holebas 8
Behrami 6
Britos 5
Deeney 4
Amrabat 3
Prodl 3
Guedioura 2
Capoue 2
Pereyra 2
Cathcart 1
Success 1
Ighalo 1
Zuniga 1
Okaka 1
Gomes 1
Kaboul 1

Total: 42

Red cards:

Watson
Britos
Pereyra