Match Report

The Hammers On Fire

Friday was interesting. First of all my TV fell off the wall, as my wife insisted we should have a new bracket. Now there is a large crack on the screen, but I did manage to get it working by standing it against the wall on the TV cabinet below. I have an outstanding insurance claim. Now, I have to decide on a new TV, I can’t for the life of me understand what is the difference between all the Sony models. I stick to Sony because I have always been satisfied in the past and it avoids a complete brainstorm of trying to decide between makes.

Then, I couldn’t get my phone to cast to the TV, after I had paid my dues to NOW TV. These are the little irritants of daily life.

So, watching the game, I thought I had entered a different dimension. West Ham were on fire in the first half. I have watched the side earlier on in the season where they could hardly make two consecutive passes. Now we were seeing a free flowing side, completely overwhelming Watford.

We are safe! That is a huge achievement, especially for David Moyes, who has now saved us twice and given what we have seen in the past week deserves another crack of the whip.

So, what’s my assessment of each player:

Fabulanski. Truly terrific and well loved by the fans. Despite the pounding we have often received this season, you can count his mistakes on the fingers of one hand.

Johnson. A good first game for him (you can discount the other one) and certainly deserves to be given the opportunity to develop.

Cresswell. Unfortunately, his time is up. Gone are the glory days from him, when we could expect glorious crosses and tremendous free kicks.

Ogbonna. Top class defender who has given good service and has never been blamed when we have performed badly.

Diop. Solid in defence and will improve with age like a good wine.

Fredericks. Has been a complete disappointment. To me he is lazy and hasn’t used his speed to get to the by line. I wouldn’t be disappointed if he was sold.

Rice. Well, I think it will be goodbye. His performance against Watford was immaculate. He has the ability to drive forward and score goals. That would make him the super player.

Noble. Fantastic that he has achieve the 500. But, his time is done and he knows it.

Fornals. A complete disappointment. Sometimes, he comes up with a good pass, but more often than not, he is anonymous.

Soucek. What a fantastic find. He seems to have turned the team around on his own.

Yarmalenko. He has come in for a lot of stick, but he has got a magic left foot and can score goals. He should be retained

Antonio. This man is an example to all of us of outstanding effort and commitment. I always said he was not a centre forward, but he has proved me wrong. I suggested he went to Specsavers and he seems to have taken my advice, as he is now on target. He is definitely player of the year for me.

Haller. Well, what can you say. So far, a complete waste of money.

Anderson. What a disappointment. There is something drastically wrong.

Masuaku. I always said he should be brought into the midfield, due to his sloppy defence. I like him.

Bowen. A great addition to the squad. He oozes commitment and effort and will improve.

Wilshere. I do believe if he was given a run and remained uninjured, he would show his talent.

Lanzini. Not the same player since his injury.

Snodgrass. A great utility player with a wicked ability to cross the ball.

Balbuena. I liked him when he was playing. What went wrong?

So, if we use the money from the sale of Rice wisely, we can see a further improvement. Personally, I think Shelvey would be a good buy, if he becomes available.

I still scratch my head that a side can start the lockdown games so poorly, but drastically improve with a short space of time.

David Hautzig's Match Report

West Ham 3, Watford 1. As Good As Safe.

As much as I wished I could look at this current relegation battle as something we can control, I could not. I watched or followed the other matches with even more fervor because I still have serious doubts about how that last day against Aston Villa would go if we were desperate. I could barely compose myself in the parking lot of my daughter’s dentist yesterday when Everton equalized. But that joy dissipated as the march towards kickoff today ensued. My standard angst took over. By the final whistle, the relief I so often beg for was handed to me.

I’m so used to West Ham being the victim of defensive errors, when Masina failed to clear the ball from the Watford area in the 6th minute after a deflection by Bowen, I barely took note. But the ball found it’s way to Fornals at the top of the Watford eighteen yard box. The Spaniard caught the run of Antonio…of course it was Antonio…and for the 7th time this month Speedy Santa found the back of the net.

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West Ham 1
Watford 0

I hadn’t even finished the paragraph above when young Ben Johnson got the ball on the right and rolled a simple pass to Bowen. The thing about crosses are that when they are near perfect, they are a nightmare to defend. Bowen sent the kind of ball into the box that we all assumed Matt Jarvis would deliver to Carroll for years. Far enough from the keeper that he cannot reach it, and pacey enough to not allow defenders to wait on it. Bowen crossed the ball just that way, and Soucek headed it past Foster.

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West Ham 2
Watford 0

Watford did try to answer The Hammer’s dream start a few minutes later when Sarr, the player my daughters friend and Manchester United supporter Eli said could be a problem, got on the end of a long ball. His low shot was blocked by Fabianski, and then the rebound by Cleverly was taken care of by Ogbonna. But the Hornets enjoyed a good spell on the ball, had some room to maneuver in, and on another day could have changed the complexion of the match.

West Ham won a corner in the 30th minute, which was a useful way to buy some extra time for Cresswell to recover from a forearm to the face by Sarr. Unfortunately the set piece was not the same standard as his earlier cross and Masina cleared. A minute later Cleverly sent a ball over the top that Sarr chased down. Had it not been for a terrific tackle by Ogbonna in the box I would have liked Sarr’s chances.

100 Million Pounds. That has been the number thrown about when the valuation of Declan Rice is the topic of conversation. Would we take 75? Hmmmmm, that’s a tough one . Or is it? When Noble simply laid the ball off for his likely successor as captain, I assumed he would try to pick out another pass out wide. Shooting was never the expectation. Heck, even when he teed it up I figured it would be a wasted effort that did nothing more than give the ball back to Ben Foster. The photographers didn’t even take a snappy of the shot. Young Declan does do that from time to time, you know. The closeup of Foster afterwards said it all, as you could clearly see him say “wow”.

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West Ham 3
Watford 0

The visitors kept the ball in the West Ham half as the opening forty-five minutes wound down. Part of that was due to West Ham being sloppy, particularly young Johnson. He’s a kid. He can learn.

West Ham 3
Watford 0

As the second half began, I wondered how Watford would come out. On one hand, they could throw everything at West Ham and try to claw their way back into the game. But the goal difference was starting to look problematic. Do they risk conceding another goal or two? They went for the former, and it paid off early. Doucoure went on a run down the left and put a low shot off the post. But the rebound went straight to a known West Ham killer in Deeney who slotted it home.

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West Ham 3
Watford 1

Watford kept the pressure up, and West Ham started to look very anxious. Putting balls out, long balls over the top, the kind of things that invite a team that has come back from losing positions twice since re-start to believe they can do it again. Add that West Ham lead the league in dropped points from winning positions and I make no apologies for feeling sick as the second half continued.

West Ham won a corner in the 70th minute after another Rice effort was deflected out. It was a respite from the Watford assault more than an actual chance created. The Hammers even saw a second corner after Dawson played it safe and put the ball out. But no shots on target were created, and bums were still well and truly squeaky.

Moments later, West Ham came oh so close to a fourth goal when Haller caught Foster off his line and tried to lob it over him. But the Watford keeper just a fingertip or two on the ball to direct it wide. On TV it looked in, which made the reality all the more difficult to accept. Despite what some say, I still like Haller and I think he will come good.

Watford kept probing, and I kept wringing my hands. In the 80th minute Gray and Sarr played a give and go on the right side but when Gray tried to find someone in the box he found Ogbonna, who promptly cleared. Moments later Watford would have scored had Welbeck seen the cross headed his way from Sarr. But his fellow man in the box, Gray, actually blocked his view and when the ball landed at his feet it bounced off them and over the bar.

Watford had a very good chance in the 87th minute when Sarr streaked down the right, getting on an overhead ball from Cleverly. Gray streaked into the box, begging for a ball at his feet. But Sarr’s delivery looked as tired as him and it found nobody.

Final Score
West Ham 3
Watford 1

I’d like to say that I have finally learned my lesson. That I will no longer rush to judgment on West Ham players or managers, predict gloom and doom, and see the trap door awaiting at every turn. But we all know that isn’t going to happen. If I haven’t changed after almost 30 years supporting West Ham, no one should hold their breath. But West Ham took care of business early, then did very well to hold off the second half surge by Watford. All that should allow us to relax for the final two matches and watch the teams below us squirm and fret.

Fine by me.

Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Watford

West Ham v Watford
FA Premier League
London Stadium
KO 8pm
TV: Sky Sports

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

Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Watford

Blast from the past

Today’s focus sees us travel back nearly 118 years, to the 18th October 1902 – the first Borstal (youth offenders’ institution) had opened two days previously in Borstal, Kent. West Ham United, meanwhile, secured a 3-1 victory over Watford in front of 4,000 at the Memorial Grounds.

21-year-old centre-forward Sidney Sugden lined up for his one and only West Ham appearance in this match. John Farrell had played in the opening five games of 1902/03 but was unfit so Sugden, then playing for Ilford, volunteered to fill the spot. Described by a contemporary reporter as “a wonderfully dashing player with a splendid turn of speed and a deadly shot, but not a good team man”, Sugden was so keen to remain an amateur that he had declined an offer from Aston Villa, giants of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. He did eventually sign on as a professional with Nottingham Forest of the First Division after his solitary appearance for the Irons and was their top scorer in 1903/04. He returned to the Southern League First Division in 1905, spending three years at QPR before a season each with Brentford and Southend.

Sugden wasn’t on the scoresheet in this 3-1 win over Watford though – 21-year-old inside-right and captain Billy Grassam (pictured) bagged a brace with inside-left Billy Barnes scoring the other. In a week which has seen Michail Antonio become the latest prestigious member of the Hammers’ Hat-Trick Club, it’s worth noting that Scotsman Grassam was West Ham United’s first ever hat-trick hero, scoring four goals in a 7-0 rout of Gravesend United on the opening day of the 1900/01 Southern League First Division season. He was also the Hammers’ first scorer of a hat-trick in the FA Cup, in a 3-2 fifth qualifying round replay win at Clapton Orient on 12th December 1900. Grassam would top the Hammers’ scoring charts for 1902/03, with 19 goals from 30 matches, but would move on at the end of the season and have spells with Manchester United, Celtic and Leyton. He returned for a second spell in east London in 1905/06 before departing for Brentford in 1909. Bill Grassam died in New York in 1943.

Syd King’s Hammers would end the 1902/03 Southern League First Division season in tenth position, while Watford would finish 15th and were relegated as a result of Test Matches. Southampton topped the division, The Wednesday won the First Division title and Bury won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Fred Griffiths, James Dow, George Eccles, James Bigden, Tommy McAteer, Joe Blythe, John Campbell, Bill Grassam, Sidney Sugden, Billy Barnes, Billy Linward.

Club Connections

Former Hammer Domingos Quina is now on Watford’s books. Others to have represented both clubs, divided by position, include:

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

Defenders: Jon Harley, Calum Davenport, Lucas Neill, James McCrae, Chris Powell, Colin Foster.

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

Strikers: James Reid, David Connolly, Mauro Zarate, Jack Foster, Roger Hugo, Billy Jennings, Bertie Lyon.

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. Glenn Roeder played for the Hornets and managed both clubs; Gianfranco Zola has managed both the Hammers and the Hornets.

This week’s focus though is on a much-travelled Scottish centre-forward who represented both clubs. Peter Kyle was born in Cadder, East Dunbartonshire, on 21st December 1878 and represented Glasgow and District schools before playing for Glasgow Parkhead. He had been rejected after trial periods with Clyde, Hearts and Thames Ironworks (later to be West Ham United) but did turn out for junior club Larkhall Thistle.

Having reportedly been rejected by Clyde due to possessing a fierce temper, Kyle joined First Division Liverpool in 1899 for £100, playing five league games for the club. Unhappy with mainly reserve team football, he dropped down into the Second Division to sign for Leicester in the summer of 1900. After just over a year in the East Midlands, Kyle was on the move again, signing for West Ham United in the autumn of 1901.

The 22-year-old Kyle (pictured), a heavy-set centre-forward who was over 6’ in height, made his Hammers debut in a 1-0 FA Cup third qualifying round win at Leyton on 2nd November 1901 – it was the only time he would savour victory in a West Ham shirt. He made his only Southern League appearance for the club in a 2-1 defeat at QPR the following week and his final match for the Irons came in a 2-1 FA Cup fourth qualifying round loss at home against Grays United on 16th November 1901. After just three games for West Ham, Kyle was shipped out to fellow Southern League outfit Kettering in a swap deal for Welsh international full-back Bill Jones in December 1901. Jones would spend the remainder of the 1901/02 season in east London, making 15 appearances for the Hammers – Jones was tragically killed in action during World War One, in May 1918, and is buried at the Doiran Military Cemetery in the north of Greece, near the south-east shore of Lake Doiran.

Kyle, meanwhile, represented Kettering in the Southern League before appearing for Wellingborough. He returned to Scotland in September 1902, playing once for Aberdeen before joining Cowdenbeath three months later. He moved to Hearts in the summer of 1903 and represented Larkhall-based side Royal Albert, Port Glasgow Athletic and Partick Thistle in 1904. Kyle returned to the Southern League in 1905, signing for Tottenham – the extrovert centre-forward was involved in an incident which validated those clubs who had been previously concerned about Kyle’s temperament. He was suspended by his club in the spring of 1906 for fighting with Spurs team-mate Chris Carrick, an incident which was deemed “a breach of the club’s training rules”. Teesside-born Carrick had also played for West Ham, but during the 1904/05 season so he had not been a team-mate of Kyle’s at the Hammers.

Kyle was swiftly transferred to First Division Woolwich Arsenal in April 1906 and proved there was little doubt over his footballing ability, scoring 22 goals in 60 senior outings – he was also called up by his country to take part in a trial match in 1907 but never played a full international game for Scotland. Kyle was Arsenal’s top scorer in the top flight in 1907/08 but, with the club strapped for cash, he was sold to First Division rivals Aston Villa before the end of that campaign. By October 1908 the wayward striker was on the move again, staying in the top flight to sign for Sheffield United. His old failing came to the fore once again though when he was sacked for failing to train properly with the Blades and he returned to Scotland with former club Royal Albert in the summer of 1909.

Kyle returned to Southern League football with Watford at the age of 30 in November 1909. He scored four goals in 13 appearances but was released in February 1910 for what was, according to the West Herts Post, “utterly disgraceful and demoralising conduct” which also involved team-mates Frank Cotterill and Jock Grieve. Kyle returned to Scotland to join Royal Albert for a third spell and finished his career at Raith Rovers, whom he joined in July 1911. Peter Kyle died on 19th January 1957 at the age of 78.


The referee on Friday will be Martin Atkinson. 2019/20 is Atkinson’s 15th as a Premier League referee. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Atkinson has refereed 26 of our league matches, officiating in 12 wins for the Hammers, three draws and 11 defeats. Atkinson is pictured below, refereeing our 4-2 home defeat to Watford in September 2016.

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Atkinson’s Hammers appointments last season were our 3-1 win at Everton in September 2018 and our 1-0 home defeat to Tottenham in October 2018. He refereed our 1-0 win at Southampton in December, our 1-0 defeat at Arsenal in March and, most recently, our 3-2 home win over Chelsea earlier this month.

Possible line-ups

For West Ham United, Robert Snodgrass misses out through injury, while Felipe Anderson is a doubt. If selected, Mark Noble will be making his 500th West Ham appearance; he has scored three goals in his last two league games against Watford. The Hammers have won three of their past four league meetings against this evening’s visitors, as many as in their previous nine against the Hornets.

For Watford, Daryl Janmaat, Isaac Success and Gerard Deulofeu are out injured. Troy Deeney is expected to be fit to play. Watford have recorded only eight league wins this term, with four of them coming against the current bottom three.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Noble, Fornals; Antonio.

Possible Watford XI: Foster; Femenia, Kabasele, Dawson, Masina; Capoue, Hughes; Sarr, Doucoure, Welbeck; Deeney.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!

Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with Watford

West Ham welcome Watford to the London Stadium this Friday evening, for a genuine 6-pointer. The winners will be safe, whilst the losers will have to endure a nail-biting week or so until the final curtain is drawn on the season. Ahead of the game I once again spoke to Jon Southwood, from Watford fansite GloryHorns to discuss the match and the dying embers of the season.
It’s been a strange old season, with both our clubs changing managers, (Watford twice). How is life under Nigel Pearson?
Life under Nigel Pearson is pretty good I think. He started brilliantly after taking over when we were 6 points adrift at the bottom and then the results kind of dried up. Since the restart we got a good draw with Leicester followed by some disappointing performances. Winning the last 2 games has been great but we’re still right in the mire. Good to have an English coach at last.

I expect like me, you were cursing the results at Bournemouth and Aston Villa, after our own wins? Are you confident that Watford will be able to stay up? Who are going down with Norwich?
Absolutely, being 6 points ahead of Bournemouth on Saturday lunchtime felt a bit like job done, we’re safe. Then come Sunday the situation reverts to being the same. It would have been nice to have been playing out a draw on Friday safe in the knowledge that a point for each side would probably enough. I’m not confident that we can stay up unless we get something out of Saturdays game. Villa will go down with Bournemouth or Watford.

Switching to the top of the table, which teams are going to join Man City and Liverpool in the Champions’ League? And which two teams will take the next 2 places?
Chelsea and Man Utd for Champions League, Leicester and Wolves for Europa

Which opposition teams and players have impressed you this season?
I think Southampton have impressed me most for the way they have played since getting drubbed 9-0 at home. The reaction there has been superb and Hassenhutel has done an excellent job as has Danny Ings….surely a shoo in for the next England squad.

Who gets your vote for Watford player of the year?
Etienne Capoue

Which player(s) have most disappointed?
Andre Gray …hopeless and a complete waste of £18,000,000

What have been the highlights and lowlights of this season?
The 3 – 0 win over Liverpool was the absolute highlight. We played them off the park in every department and scored some great goals to boot, a brief glimpse at how the season could have been. The rest of the season has been a lowlight really missing out by inches too often and not getting the points that some performances have merited but also putting in far too many weak efforts

Looking ahead to next year, what do Watford need to do to improve on this season?
Concentration and discipline in defence and burying chances upfront

How will Watford line up against West Ham this Friday? Players/formation?

Femenia Cathcart Dawson Holebas
Sarr Capoue Hughes Pereyra
Deeney Wellbeck

Are you confident going into this game? Prediction for score please?
I’m confident that we’ll be up for it, we have to be because (with no disrespect to you) Man City and Arsenal away aren’t likely to be anything but losses. I’d hope we can share the spoils on Friday night.

Well many thanks to Jon for his time and thoughts. Let’s hope that we can see off Watford, if merely to prevent me spending more hours staring at the fixture list and table, wasting hours working out the permutations. 2 – 1 West Ham. COYI

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