West Ham’s first game after the international break sees Slaven Bilic’s side host Watford this weekend. The Hammers have had a difficult start to the new season, losing to both Chelsea and Manchester City and narrowly edging out Bournemouth for a haul of three points from their opening three games. However the good bit for fans is that Dimitri Payet is likely to return to the XI this weekend and we know how much of a difference he makes to this side
Payet has played only 23 minutes this season for the Hammers and has been struggling with injury after starring for France at the European Championships. However he appears to have put his injury woes behind him and played half an hour for Les Bleus against Belarus as a second half substitute for Anthony Martial a few days ago. Bilic has already underlined the playmaker’s importance, saying he had all the qualities “the best players” have.
He makes the team play better and everyone around him is benefiting. The team recognised that last season
With Sofiane Feghouli also primed to make his first start and new signing Simone Zaza expected to bolster the Irons’ attack, Matchbook have West Ham as strong favourites to beat Watford despite the former’s indifferent start to the season.
To be fair to Bilic, two of the three clashes were away at Chelsea and Man City, always difficult places to travel to, and he has not had the luxury of being able to select from a fully-fit squad. Havard Nordveit and Winston Reid have also recovered from knocks but the quartet of Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho, Aaron Creswell and Andre Ayew are still in the physio’s room.
It’s also been a tough baptism of fire for Watford manager Walter Mazzari, with the Hornets picking up just one point from their three games so far. They drew with Southampton on the opening day of the season before losing to both Chelsea and Arsenal, and were knocked out of the League Cup by third tier opponents Gillingham.
Mazzari could hand Roberto Pereyra his maiden Hornets start with Adrian Mariappa also an option after the defender rejoined his former teammates at Vicarage Road on a three year deal.
Last season’s corresponding fixture saw West Ham prevail 3-1 at Upton Park thanks to a pair of penalties from Mark Noble- their first win at home over the Hornets since 2004. There was plenty of action in that game with Nordin Amrabat sent off for the Hornets and West Ham’s Adrian saving Troy Deeney’s stoppage time penalty effort.
This is the beginning of a relatively favourable set of fixtures for West Ham- West Brom, Southampton, Boro, Palace, Sunderland, Everton and Stoke (in that order) are their opponents after the Watford game. Then they’ll have a set of four tough back to back games against Spurs, Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool respectively.
West Ham v Watford
3pm kick off, 10 September, 2016, Referee Martin Atkinson.
Games involving Atkinson tend to produce a fair number of yellow cards and plenty of goals. The Hammers’ last game with him at the helm was their 3-1 away win at Bournemouth in January earlier this year.