David Hautzig's Match Report

Watford 1, West Ham 1. Self Evident Truths.

That damn game at the London Stadium in September was the most annoying match in years. Other games have been more infuriating. Any number of Spurs matches, Chelsea away last year, almost every match under Moron Grant. But Watford at home was annoying. Like a bug bite. It took months for it to go away. And I wanted to beat them today something fierce. Simply put, Watford don’t deserve to spend a summer enjoying two wins against us. Maybe that’s unfair. Too bad. I was in no mood for fair today. And while I think we were worth more than a draw today, the game itself not only earned a it made a point.

As the match previews showed Zarate, we all knew that somehow he would play a part in a moment that would annoy us. We just didn’t think it would happen in the second minute. Deeney retrieved a long pass from Cleverley and rolled the ball to Zarate in the box. Despite being known as possibly the most versatile player in our squad, Kouyate has shown that right back is not his preferred position. And that’s putting it mildly. A clumsy challenge on the former Hammer brought him down, Pawson pointed at the spot, supporters worldwide continued to wonder how on earth we never signed a right back, and Deeney did the rest.

Watford 1
West Ham 0

The mistake so early was made more annoying by the work West Ham did right after the goal. They closed down well and pressed with a purpose. Antonio worked the ball down the left and sent a dangerous low cross in that was deflected away by Holebas. No defensive mistake and we would have been feeling pretty good. Huge defensive mistake and we were chasing the game before it really started.

Antonio won a free kick from a reasonably dangerous position in the 17th minute, but Snodgrass’s effort was too low and too slow. Minutes later, Feghouli picked Holebas’s pocket and fed Snodgrass in the box. He should have drilled it, and if he had he might have scored, but instead he side footed it and Kaboul was able to get a foot in the way and send it out for a corner.

West Ham continued to enjoy the majority of the possession, with Snodgrass, Antonio, and Feghouli all using there pace and skill to ask a few questions of Watford. Antonio won a corner, Feghouli whipped in a superb cross that would have earned West Ham a corner if not for an Antonio foul on Janmaat, and Lanzini made a good run down the left that ended with an easy save by Gomes. In the 30th minute Antonio out muscled Kaboul in the area to win yet another corner, but it was wasted. Questions? Yes. University level? More like grade school, so the students at Watford Elementary weren’t bothered at all.

The visitors wasted another opportunity in the 37th minute when Antonio made one of his freight train runs down the left. Janmaat determined the brick wall approach was his best bet and slammed into the onrushing Antonio, giving West Ham a free kick just outside the box. But Lanzini sent his free kick over the bar instead of into the danger area. With five minutes left in the half, West Ham had sent ten crosses into the box to Watford’s one. The ideas were there. The execution was nowhere to be found.

In the 41st minute, Antonio showed his deft side with a little flick over the head of Britos, which amounted to a pass to himself. His shot was blocked out for a corner, and the corner was of course wasted. Which I’m guessing didn’t surprise anyone at the time.

West Ham should have equalized in first half stoppage time when Feghouli and Cresswell combined on the left. Cresswell took a low shot that Gomes couldn’t keep hold of, but with the ball right in front of Snodgrass he couldn’t get a touch on it and Watford cleared. To be fair, if West Ham had scored there might have been a bit of controversy because Zarate was lying in a near fetal position clutching his knee. The stoppage was so long it turned out to be the longest first half in the league this season, and Zarate’s season unfortunately looks to be over. Pawson was right to allow the game to continue, but more EPL officiating talk would have been front and center if the halftime score had been one all.

Halftime
Watford 1
West Ham 0

West Ham began the second half on the front foot, just as they had been most of the first half, and in the 50th minute the man who gave away the penalty early in the first half should have won one back early in the second. Kouyate tried to chase down a pass on the right side of the Watford box but looked to have been pulled down by Niang. Pawson didn’t see it that way, and from my vantage point the home side looked to have gotten away with one.

In the 59th minute, Lanzini tried to take the game by the scruff of the neck when he ran across the box from right to left and sent a low pass back across the face of goal. It was a short race between Gomes and Antonio as to who would get there first, and Gomes won. The dynamic was pretty clear. The side up one allowed the opponent to control the game while hanging on to their lead.

In the 61st minute, West Ham won another free kick just outside the box. The delivery from Snodgrass was better, and the ball found its way to Fonte. The January signing forced a good save by Gomes with a header destined to find the top corner.

Slaven Bilic made his first substitution in the 65th minute when he inserted Ayew and removed Snodgrass. We’ve questioned our manager’s substations all season, and I’m guessing that pattern continued. We have done reasonably well on set pieces all season. To remove our new main delivery man seemed odd.

In the 69th minute, West Ham should have scored. Cresswell whipped in a cross that Antonio headed wide, despite being in front of goal. Alone. Maybe five feet out. His header would been brilliant had he been a central defender clearing the ball from danger. He likely assumed Britos would clear, and when it got by the Watford defender he wasn’t prepared to finish the chance. An actual striker would certainly have buried it. But that point has been made ad nauseum.

In the 73rd minute, what was both inevitable based on the run of play and unlikely based on us being us, West Ham scored. Ayew sent Antonio to the races with a header that the makeshift striker was able to chase down. His shot beat Gomes. It hit the near post. Then it hit the far post. Then it ricocheted into the center of the box, and low and behold Ayew was there. He calmly slotted it home, and it was time to either close up shop with a point or go for all three.

Watford 1
West Ham 1

It continued to be West Ham on the attack, and in the 83rd minute Lanzini was brought down by Holebas just outside the Watford penalty area. Cresswell’s delivery might make a highlight film of Worst Delivery Of The Year. It was that bad.

The question of what West Ham will do the rest of the match was answered in the 86th minute when Antonio was shown a second yellow and thus a red card for a deliberate handball. So despite Watford barely having a look at Randolph the whole of the second half, the game was there for the taking against a ten man West Ham. And moments after the sending off, Britos was able to get his head on the end of a Watford corner but his attempt went wide.

Despite playing with ten men, the Hammers came close to a second of their own when Cresswell sent a cross that Feghouli had in his sights at the far corner of the Watford goal. If Holebas hadn’t gotten his head there first to send the ball out for a West Ham corner it would have been the visitors celebrating a late, possible winner.

You gotta love the names of characters in movies. They always have totally unrealistic but truly awesome names. Mason Dixon and Clubber Lang in the 638 Rocky films come to mind. I don’t know any football films like that, but tell me Success wouldn’t do the job? In the final moments of the match, West Ham defending for their lives, Deeney flicked the ball towards a diving Randolph. It skipped by the West Ham keeper and into the path of the Success. The dramatic music sounded. The slow motion sounds of the home supporters starting to roar. Cue the star!

The man could have sneezed and the force of whatever flew out of his nostrils might have been enough to push the ball in. Instead, his screen name changed to Failure.

Final Score
Watford 1
West Ham 1

Two points in two matches that we should have or at least could have won without a striker or a right back is not something to necessarily celebrate, but it isn’t something to lament either. I doubt the founders of my country would ever have anticipated the words we hold these truths to be self evident would be used about a football club in the country they wanted no part of anymore. Hey, I love it there. Flying over on Thursday to go to the Chelsea match. But if there ever was a match that encapsulated the argument that we desperately need a proper right back and dependable striker options, it was today. The early Watford penalty might not have happened if an actual right back was defending Zarate in the box. Furthermore, if Sakho or Carroll were marauding in the box when all of those crosses rained in my money says a couple would have ended up in the back of the net. Yet am I confident these issue will finally be addressed?

I hope so, but I’m not holding my breath.

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Match Thread

Match Thread: Watford v West Ham

Watford v West Ham
FA Premier League
KO 5.30pm
TV: BT Sport
Radio: WHUFC.com/Radio London

Watford Starting XI

Please use this thread to comment on the match as it progresses.


Lineup Prediction

Lineup Prediction: Watford v West Ham

We could be facing Mauro Zarate and Valon Behrami this afternoon. Zarate in particular will be looking to make a point to West Ham, as he feels he was never really given enough game time to prove himself at Upton Park. He had some very good games with us but Sam Allardyce was never a fan. He wasn’t an Allardyce type of player and he never wanted him at the club in the first place. He only played 22 games, scoring a more than creditable five goals. If I recall correctly, all five were gems.

On 23 July 2008, West Ham signed Valon Behrami from Lazio, with the player signing a five-year contract for a fee of £5 million.I thought he was a brilliant player and was gutted when he moved to Fiorentina in January 2011. He played 58 games for us, scoring four goals but he suffered a couple of bad injuries. Since he left us he has played for Fiorentina, Napoli and Hamburg, and hasn’t scored a single goal for any of them. I remain a fan, though.

In terms of our lineup, I covered the options earlier in the week. Andy Carroll, it seems, won’t figure and will be lucky to make the Chelsea game. Andre Ayew is back in contention and Bilic now has some big selection headached with Ayew, Feghouli, Lanzini and Snodgrass competing for two positions. This is my predicted lineup…

Randolph, Cresswell, Byram, Reid, Fonte, Obiang, Kouyate, Noble, Lanzini, Antonio, Snodgrass

And the bench…

Adrian, Collins, Ayew, Fletcher, Calleri, Feghouli, Fernandes

Feghouli would be very unhappy if he is left out of the starting eleven, given that he has improved with every game and has chipped in with a couple of goals.

Watford have some terrible injury problems, with seven first teamers doubtful for this afternoon.

You have until 4.25pm to enter the Predictor League.

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Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Watford v West Ham

Blast from the past

Billy Bonds’ West Ham United arrived at Vicarage Road, the home of this weekend’s opponents Watford, for a Second Division fixture on 13th March 1990 while en route to a seventh-place finish.

Beats International featuring Lindy Layton were number one with ‘Dub Be Good To Me’ and Matthew Broderick and Denzel Washington were in UK cinemas with Glory as the Hammers recorded a 1-0 victory in front of 15,682 thanks to a strike from centre-forward Trevor Morley (pictured above), his second goal of 70 for the club in 214 appearances. Watford would finish the 1989/90 campaign in 15th position, while Julian Dicks would end the season as Hammer of the Year and the Irons’ top goalscorer in all competitions.

West Ham United: Ludek Miklosko, George Parris, Colin Foster, Tony Gale, Julian Dicks, Kevin Keen, Martin Allen, Ian Bishop, Stuart Slater, Trevor Morley, Jimmy Quinn.

Club Connections

Former Hammers Valon Behrami and Mauro Zarate are both now on Watford’s books. Other players to have represented both clubs, divided by position, include:

Goalkeepers: Ted Hufton, David James, Perry Suckling, Manuel Almunia, Jack Rutherford, Joe Webster.

Defenders: Jon Harley, Calum Davenport, Lucas Neill, Chris Powell.

Midfielders: Henri Lansbury, Alan Devonshire, Alessandro Diamanti, Stuart Slater, Jobi McAnuff, Jimmy Lindsay, Joe Blythe, Jimmy Carr, Mark Robson, Carl Fletcher.

Strikers: David Connolly, Roger Hugo, Billy Jennings.

Len Goulden played for West Ham and managed Watford, while Malky Mackay played for both clubs and went on to manage the Vicarage Road club. Gianfranco Zola has managed both the Hammers and the Hornets.

This week’s focus though is on a midfielder who represented both clubs in the early years of this century. David Noble was born in Hitchin on the 2nd February 1982 and started his career as a trainee with Arsenal, with whom he won the FA Youth Cup in 2000 before joining Gianluca Vialli’s First Division Watford on loan in August 2001. He made his debut as a 72nd-minute substitute in a 3-0 home win over Wimbledon on 9th September 2001 and scored his only goal for the club in the 44th minute of a 3-0 win at Grimsby on 20th October 2001, lifting the ball over goalkeeper Danny Coyne before walking it into an empty net.

Noble played in a League Cup quarter-final while with the Hornets but was substituted at half-time as Sheffield Wednesday triumphed 4-0 at Hillsborough to reach the last four. After a promising start for the creative midfielder at Vicarage Road, his impact and appearances began to wane. His final appearance for the club came in a 2-1 defeat at Stockport on 1st April 2002 – after one goal in 18 appearances at Watford, Noble returned to parent club Arsenal.

After an appearance-less half-season back with the Gunners, Noble signed for Glenn Roeder’s West Ham United on a three-month permanent contract in February 2003. He was re-united with Joe Cole, with whom he had spent two years at Lilleshall. Noble, who played for England at youth level before making a single appearance for Scotland B in 2003, failed to force himself into the first-team reckoning as the Hammers eventually succumbed to relegation.

The 21-year-old extended his contract with the club in the summer of 2003 however and made his debut for the Hammers under Roeder in a 3-1 League Cup first round win over Rushden & Diamonds at the Boleyn Ground on 13th August 2003, his only start for the club. He made his first league appearance as a substitute in a 0-0 home draw against Sheffield United three days later. His only other appearances for the Irons came as a substitute under caretaker manager Trevor Brooking, in a 3-0 win at Crewe and 2-0 defeat at Gillingham. After four goalless appearances for West Ham United, Noble was released by Alan Pardew in early 2004, joining Third Division Boston United.

After two years at Boston, Noble joined Bristol City. He helped the Robins win promotion from League One and also scored in the Championship Play-Off semi-final against Crystal Palace the following season. After a loan spell with Yeovil in 2008/09, he was released and signed for League One Exeter. He moved to Rotherham in 2012 and, following a loan spell with Cheltenham, signed for Oldham in 2014. After only two appearances for Oldham, he re-joined Exeter on loan before making his return to Devon permanent in January 2015. After a year and a half back with the Grecians, Noble signed for St Albans City in the National League South last summer, taking his experience of over 300 Football League appearances to Clarence Park. Now 35, Noble has made 23 appearances for St Albans this season, with five assists to his name.

Referee

Saturday’s referee will be Craig Pawson; 2016/17 is Pawson’s fifth as a Premier League referee. In 2014/15 he refereed West Ham’s 3-1 home win over Liverpool and sent off Adrian in our 0-0 draw at Southampton, a decision that was later overturned. He was also the man in the middle for our 4-1 Capital One Cup home defeat to Wigan four seasons ago and our 3-1 loss at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium three seasons ago. His Hammers appointments last season were both at the Boleyn Ground, for our 2-2 draw with Manchester City in January 2016 and the 3-3 draw with Arsenal last April.

Pawson’s matches in charge of West Ham United so far this season saw him send off Harry Arter as the Hammers defeated Bournemouth 1-0 in August, while he also officiated in our 2-1 home win over Chelsea in the fourth round of the League Cup in October. His most recent Hammers appointment was our 5-1 home defeat to Arsenal in December.

Possible line-ups

Costel Pantilimon, Christian Kabasele, Nordin Amrabat and Roberto Pereyra are out for Watford, while Craig Cathcart, Sebastian Prodl and ex-Hammer Valon Behrami all face late fitness tests. Mauro Zarate is in line to start against the Hammers for the first time since leaving the club.

For West Ham United, Aaron Cresswell, Arthur Masuaku and Andre Ayew are all available, while Andy Carroll faces a late fitness test and may not be risked from the start. Angelo Ogbonna, Gokhan Tore and Diafra Sakho are the only definite absentees from Slaven Bilic’s squad. The Hammers have lost only one of their last 12 league matches at Watford, although this defeat came in our last visit, a 2-0 defeat in October 2015.

Possible Watford XI: Gomes; Janmaat, Cathcart, Kaboul, Britos; Capoue, Cleverley; Niang, Zarate, Holebas; Deeney.

Possible West Ham United XI: Randolph; Kouyate, Fonte, Reid, Cresswell; Noble, Obiang; Feghouli, Lanzini, Snodgrass; Antonio.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

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Talking Point

LISTEN: Fascinating Interview With Mark Noble

Mark Noble has done a fascinating two part interview with European football journalist Graham Hunter.

Graham introduces the first part on his blog

JUNE 20, 2007. That was the day England faced their Dutch counterparts in a European Under-21 Championship semi-final and were only sent home after an all-out penalty battle royal. A record was set, with the 25 spot-kicks required to separate the sides still standing as the longest penalty shoot out in UEFA history. It was also the day that Mark Noble, who scored twice in that shoot out, was left in tears as his side fell just short of the final. But don’t worry, the midfielder was later consoled by a few sympathetic northerners he met on holiday. He was happy to be put on the spot for his country in Heerenveen, having practised penalties repeatedly in training sessions before the tournament. “Every day after training, every player took a penalty and [head coach] Stuart Pearce stood there with a pad and pen and took notes,” Mark says in the podcast:
“Mark, scored. James Milner, scored. Tom Huddlestone, scored. He went through the line, bang, bang, bang, bang… I never missed.” It is a habit he has continued throughout his career, with Mark now established as the penalty taker for West Ham United – and in this Big Interview he gives a wonderfully honest account of how he handles that responsibility.

Listen to part one HERE

This is Graham’s introduction to the second part of the interview…

MARK Noble grew up with a football field for a back garden. Or at least he did once his dad had a secret gate installed behind the house, so that Mark could take a ball and sneak on to the grounds of a school. It was not too long before he was stepping out at Upton Park. Or should that be the Boleyn Ground? Either way, in Part Two of his Big Interview, Mark talks about that famous old stadium and the final game there, against Manchester United under the lights. Mark has kept a photograph from that night – a picture of the West Ham fans looking on as he shields the ball to help see out the game. He remains connected to his support, his community, and Mark talks eloquently about the social housing projects being undertaken by the Legacy Foundation, which he founded alongside two other London boys: Bobby Zamora and Rio Ferdinand. Mark is a good footballer and a good man.

Listen to part two: HERE

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