Match Report by @WestHamAmarican
West Ham continued their good run of league matches with a 1-4 victory at Vicarage Road today. The win secures a top ten finish for the season. A pair of goals from Mark Noble, along with scoring from Manuel Lanzini and Marko Arnautovic were more than enough to overcome the host’s single goal from Gerard Deulofeu early in the second half.
The tone was set early in the match with West Ham’s captain driving the ball into the attacking third of the pitch, then moving past Christian Kabasele to strike the back corner of the net.
Moments later Micheal Antonio took a powerful shot but hit the crossbar. The alertness of Lanzini to follow towards the rebound gave the Argentine an easy header, away from Ben Foster’s reach.
Watford almost pulled back before the half. Lukasz Fabianski had a masterful save at the end of the half from a tough Troy Deeney shot.
With a two goal advantage, and the momentum clearly on the Hammer’s side, a very sloppy series off of the second half kickoff lead to an unexplainable goal for Deulofeu. The kickoff was dropped back and Pablo Zabaleta mishandled it, and poorly attempted to pass back to Fabianski. But the ball was intercepted and Deulofeu had a goal only eight seconds into the half.
Midway through the half West Ham retook the momentum when a Filipe Anderson volley rebounded off of the post but Arnautovic easily turned it into a goal.
Late in the match Mark Noble concluded the scoring after Antonio was brought down on a hard challenge from Femenia, just inside the penalty area. The captain stepped up, as he has done so many times before over the years, and fired the spot kick just inside the left-side netting.
With the victory West Ham secured a top half finish for the first time since the final season at Upton Park. Watford, at 11th, has a date with the league champions in the FA Cup final next week. The great question that everyone now has is “where does West Ham go in the summer transfer window?” With a porous defense that has fewer clean sheets then all the non-relegated clubs, one would think that Pellegrini would focus his budget towards defending help.
Last season was West Ham’s most successful summer since the summer of 2015, and coincidentally it was the club’s highest finish since 2015-16. If Pellegrini is given the appropriate budget, he seems to understand player evaluation, and successful players are willing to play for him. Aside from the awful August start to the season, and some poor results during Arnautovic’s failed January exit, the club has shown they can compete. Once the back four is sorted, European football is a very reasonable goal for 2020.
Watford: – Foster, Kiko, Holebas, Kabasele, Cathcart, Capoue, Doucoure, Hughes, Pereyra, Deulofeu, Deeney
West Ham: – Fabianski, Fredericks (Zabaleta 26), Masuaku, Diop, Balbuena, Rice (Sanchez 79), Noble, Lanzini (Wilshere 67), Antonio, Arnautovic, Anderson
Goals: – Deulofeu 46 – Noble 15, 78 (P), Lanzini 39, Arnautovic 71
Red Cards: – Holebas 48
This summer don’t forget to check TheWestHamWay.co.uk and @ExWHUEmployee for the latest in transfer news.