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Premier League
Saturday, 10th February 2018

West Ham United 2
Watford 0

by David Fletcher


West Ham take all three points as they get the better of a lacklustre Watford side, still hungover from their surprising victory at Vicarage Road on Monday.

West Ham take all three points as they get the better of a lacklustre Watford side, still hungover from their surprising victory at Vucatage road on Monday.

Both sides set up robustly and were aggressive in the early exchanges. Within the first ten minutes, either side had got a decent opportunity to break the deadlock. Firstly, Adrian Mariappa headed a well worked Watford corner goalwards, but it was convincingly met by 'keeper Adrian.

At the opposite end however, the crowd were on their feet when Marko Arnautovic, returning from a hamstring injury, successfully beat four Watford defenders before being brought down by Daryl Jaanmat, whose tackle only managed to get the ball away as far as Joao Mario, who couldn't beat Orestis Karnezis in the Watford goal.

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The home side's flurry of attacks were further encouraged as the fans started to get rowdy, following some controversial decisions by the match officials. They thought they were ahead just after the half-an-hour mark when Javier Hernandez found the back of the net from a Joao Mario free-kick, but it was ruled offside.

Despite a few opportunities going Watford's way, they failed to sway the momentum in their favour, as they remained on the back foot against a rampant West Ham team.

Refusing to go into half time on level terms, the Hammers continued to push men forward. It was another hands on head moment for the home fans when Marko Arnautovic failed to convert his effort after James Collins headed the ball into his path off a marvellous Joao Mario free-kick.

Nonetheless, they wouldn't be rueing their missed opportunities for long as they finally got off the mark with a trademark Chicharito goal. Thanks to a few step overs and a steaming run down the left, Michail Antonio beat Jaanmat, and managed to deliver a great cross to Hernandez, who headered home unmarked.

Having taken the lead, West Ham's game plan in the second half was to sit back and soak up the pressure, negating Watford's attacking pace advantage. It seemed to work fine, but the game was still in the balance, hanging by a thread as far as the crowd were concerned who watched on anxiously.

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It would take West Ham more than half-an-hour of the second period to settle the encounter thanks to a stroke of luck. It all came from an unconventional West Ham corner as Cresswell played it short to Antonio who was brought down upon receiving the ball.

The ball stayed with West Ham though as Cresswell attempted drilling it goalwards. As the goalkeeper parried, the Watford defence tried to clear it, however it ricocheted fortunately off Cresswell into Arnautovic's feet who was able to comfortably finish the move off with a goal.

The victory marks a remarkable turn around following a woeful performance at Brighton. A very solid performance from an exciting West Ham team full of energy, especially in the first half. An exciting prospect, considering that the squad still awaits the return from injury of more attacking players.

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Player Ratings

Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo
Made some good, albeit comfortable saves. Tremendous distribution all afternoon and expertly covered for his defence with balls in behind.


Pablo Zabaleta
Very lively all afternoon in attack and in defence. Much more comfortable as a wing back as opposed to a central midfield role that he has been playing in recent games.


Aaron Cresswell
Was allowed some freedom to go forward despite his position as a centre-back. Carried out a more defensive role in the second half.


Angelo Ogbonna
Partnered up decently with Collins and Cresswell. Very composed on the ball when pressured.


James Collins
Kept tabs on the Watford attacking three very well, in spite of not matching them in speed.


Mark Noble
Significantly lacked pace going forward and wasn't too convincing in defence either.


Cheikhou Kouyate
Recovered well following his poor performance the week before. A force to be dealt with going forward and a sturdy figure in defence.


Joao Mario
Played an important part in West Ham's atacking spree in the first half, but gradually fell away as they sat back in the second half.


Michail Antonio
Terrorised Daryl Janmaat down the left with his sheer pace and strength, despite being in an unfavoured wing-back position.


Marko Arnautovic
Had the opposing defence on their toes. Full of confidence and very able to beat a player. Made up for his poor miss in the first half with a goal in the second.


Javier Hernandez
Excellent work rate coming up trumps with the goal to give his side the lead. Good to see him enjoying his football again following the uncertainty about his future at the Club.


Substitutes


Sam Byram
(Replaced Mario) Didn't pose the same threat as Antonio and was very isolated up front.


Declan Rice
(Replaced Arnautovic) Saw the game out for a little more first team experience.


Jordan Hugill
(Replaced Hernandez) Ran his socks off in his brief spell on the field, proving a point to the manager and to the fans who appreciated the effort.


Joe Hart
Did not play.


Patrice Evra
Did not play.


Jose Fonte
Did not play.


Josh Cullen
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: Graham Scott.

Attendance: 56,917.

Man of the Match: Marko Arnautovic.

West Ham United

Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo, Pablo Zabaleta, Aaron Cresswell, Angelo Ogbonna, James Collins, Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate, Joao Mario, Michail Antonio, Marko Arnautovic, Javier Hernandez.

Goals: Javier Hernandez 38 Marko Arnautovic 78                .

Booked: Pablo Zabaleta           .

Sent off: None.

Watford

Karnezis, Mariappa, Prodl, Holebas, Janmaat, Capoue, Doucoure, Zeegelar (Pereyra 56), Deulofeu (Lukebakio 75), Richarlison, Deeney.

Substitutes: .

Subs not used: Bachmann, Ndong, Gray, Carrillo, Mukena.

Goals: .

Booked: .

Sent Off: .

 
David Fletcher's Man of the Match: Marko Arnautovic


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