Post Match Thoughts- Watford v West Ham- Moyes’ first game ends in defeat

This was a tough, but perhaps winnable fixture for David Moyes- his first in charge of West Ham, and also his 500th game as a Premier League manager. It was also the only Match Week 12 game to be played that day.

Watford had lost three in a row coming into this game, two of those losses to teams in the bottom half of the table in Stoke and Everton, and were looking vulnerable, despite having home advantage. Moyes had been working on improving his side’s defence and fitness issues in training in the lead up to the game.

West Ham did put in an improved performance, but that was not enough to stop Watford from running out 2-0 winners.

For his first game in charge, Moyes went with four at the back and opted Kouyate, Noble and Obiang in midfield. Marko Arnautovic was given a right wing start, with Lanzini on the left, and Andy Carroll leading the line. Andre Ayew would’ve presumably started but for illness.

Watford went for three at the back and opted to give a debut to Marvin Zeegelaar at left wing back. The Dutch defender was involved in a nasty collision with Carroll in the opening minute of the game that lead him requiring treatment for a bloodied nose- not a great start to life in the Premier League.

Zeegelaar however grew into the game as it progressed, and played a vital role in Watford’s first, with his cross in the box falling for Will Hughes after a melee, and the forward smashed home for his first ever goal in Watford colours.

While West Ham were defensively well organised, they provided little of note going forward, and instead, most of the first half was spent in collecting bookings, with Arnautovic, Carroll and Obiang all going into Andre Marriner’s book. It was only towards the end of the first half that they had their first real chance, but Heurelho Gomes was well positioned to deny Cheikhou Kouyate from close range. Gomes was a doubt for this game- it was his injury that saw Watford fall apart at Goodison Park, but he recovered in time to start. The corner after that was an example of Watford’s threat on the counter- the Hornets might have scored but for Hughes unwisely opting for a bicycle kick at the end.

In first half injury times, Gomes provided more evidence of his importance to this Watford team, producing two excellent saves to deny Arnautovic from point blank range.

Early in the second half, the Austrian, clearly one of West Ham’s more impressive players, set up Kouyate, who wasted another good chance by blazing over.

That seemed to spur Watford into action, and thus began a spell of endless pressure for West Ham. Doucoure controlled things in the middle of the park and the impressive Kiko Fermenia was an ever present threat on the right flank.

The Hammers wanted to bring on Sakho for Carroll, but could not get the ball out of play for a good three odd minutes. Eventually the resistance crumbled with the impressive Richarlison making it 2-0, but there was some controversy with Hughes appearing to handle the ball in the buildup. No one could however deny that Watford were good value for their lead.

Arnautovic was subbed off with what looked like a serious hand injury, to be replaced by Arthur Masuaku, and the match eventually petered to a close.

If Moyes had no idea of the enormity of the job in front of him, he certainly does now.

Watford 2-0 West Ham (Hughes 11, Richarlison 64)

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