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Watford 1-4 West Ham United
Brian Jeeves reporting from Vicarage Road
Turning the clock back to May 12, 2019, and a resounding victory for West Ham United over Emirates FA Cup finalists, Watford, at Vicarage Road…
WEST HAM UNITED concluded their Premier League campaign in style with a resounding 4-1 victory over Emirates FA Cup finalists, Watford, at Vicarage Road.
West Ham arrived in Hertfordshire in the knowledge that they would finish in the top half of the table for the first time since the 2015/16 season. Nevertheless, Manuel Pellegrini was mindful that with a showpiece game ahead of them in a weeks time, Watford offered a stiff challenge to his charges
“Watford, with Javi Gracia, are doing a brilliant season, not only for the amount of points they have but also they are in the final of the FA Cup,” the Chilean explained.
“I don’t think they will be distracted by the cup final. They have one week more to prepare and they will want to finish well in front of their fans.”
“I hope we can finish with a third win in a row and get to 50 points too.”
Pellegrini made two changes to the side which had swept aside Southampton eight days previous, with Felipe Anderson and Declan Rice returning to the starting line-up after illnesses.
Abdoulaye Doucoure forced Lukasz Fabianski into a smart save low to his right, while Will Hughes’ route to goal was twice blocked as the Hornets asked the early questions. Meanwhile, Michail Antonio simply ran out of road after bursting clear down the right as the Hammers probed for an opening of their own.
But it was West Ham who struck first. Skipper, Mark Noble, tiptoed forward, eluded a static backline, steadied himself before dispatching low beyond Hornets stopper, Ben Foster, from eighteen yards.
Gerard Deulofeu warmed Fabianski’s palms, while Christian Kabasele only found the Polish keepers midriff as Watford looked for an immediate response. But before they could make any real headway, the visitors doubled their advantage. Antonio’s initial effort came down off the underside of the bar, handing Lanzini the simplest of opportunities to nod into an empty net, much to the delight of the travelling support, who were very much in a party mood.
Fabianski superbly denied Troy Deeney as Watford pressed for a lifeline before the break.
But the east Londoners celebrations became somewhat subdued second after the restart. Deulofeu seized on an awful back pass from Pablo Zabaleta to reduce the deficit.
The drama swiftly switched to the other end. Jose Holebas was shown a straight red card after appearing to haul down Antonio – the home crowd dismayed by referee Chris Kavanagh’s decision which appears to have cost the Watford man his place in the Cup Final side due to suspension.
Marko Arnautovic passed up a decent opportunity to extend the Hammers advantage – firing an angled effort against the legs of Foster. But the Austrian soon made amends, picking up the pieces after Anderson’s volley had cannoned back off an upright.
West Ham was now firmly in the ascendancy, and it was soon 4-1. Antonio was fouled clumsily by Kiko Femenia, handing Noble the opportunity to send Foster the wrong way from the resulting spot-kick, sparking a mass exodus in the stands from disgruntled Hornets fans.
This result, coupled with Leicester City’s draw with Chelsea ensured West Ham tenth place in the top flight, an achievement that looked a million miles away back in September after four successive defeats had Hammers supporters questioning whether another battle against relegation was looming over the horizon.
West Ham United’s Premier League fixture for the 2019/20 season will be released on June 13 – Lookout for updates and stories from the London Stadium in the Yellow Advertiser throughout the summer.
Watford: Ben Foster, Gerard Deulofeu (Andre Gray 59’), Troy Deeney (Capt), Craig Cathcart, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Will Hughes (Adam Masina 67’), Kiko Femenia, Jose Holebas, Christian Kabasele (Adrian Mariappa 78’), Etienne Capoue, Roberto Per Subs not used: Heurelho Gomes (GK), Daryl Janmaat, Isaac Success, Nathaniel Chalobah
Booked: Etienne Capoue (foul)
Sent-off: Jose Holebas (foul)
Goals: Gerard Deulofeu 46’
West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Fabian Balbuena, Marko Arnautovic, Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini (Jack Wilshere 67’), Mark Noble (Capt), Issa Diop, Ryan Fredericks (Pablo Zabaleta 26’), Arthur Masuaku, Michail Antonio, Declan Rice (Carlos Sanchez 79’) Subs not used: Adrian (GK), Robert Snodgrass, Carlos Sanchez, Javier Hernandez, Angelo Ogbonna
Goals: Mark Noble 15’, 78’ (penalty), Manuel Lanzini 39’, Marko Arnautovic 71’
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Assistants: Dan Cook and Sian Massey-Ellis
Fourth Official: Andrew Madley
Reaction to follow…