Watford v West Ham United – Saturday 3pm – Vicarage Road – Preview
FORMER Hammers legend, Brian Dear, is mindful that West Ham United need to get that elusive first Premier League victory of the season but insisted the pressure will be more so on host’s Watford and their manager Javi Gracia when the two sides go head to head at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
Pre-season optimism was somewhat diluted when champions Manchester City rocked up at the London Stadium on the opening day for what has turned into a traditional ‘turkey shoot’ – However, having recovered to take a point from a customary tricky trip to Brighton, Dear thinks the Hammers are well set as they head for Hertfordshire.
“Watford haven’t started the season well, losing to Brighton and Everton. They are bottom of the table and their owners have a history of pulling the trigger swiftly on managers,” Dear told Yellow Sport.
“Of course, the expectation at West Ham – the Manager, the players, the fans – is huge. Everyone will be thinking this is a game we can win and I think we will. But from a Watford perspective, Gracia will be anxious. Eleven managers in ten years suggest he will be under scrutiny from the hierarchy who are keen for the Hornets to establish themselves further in the Premier League.”
But what about West Ham? Dear doesn’t think there is too much wrong with the current squad at Manuel Pellegrini’s disposal.
“We’ve recruited well in the summer, while shall we say ‘less influential’ characters around the dressing room have been moved on
“The signings of Pablo Fornals and Sebastien Haller have particularly impressed me. Once the boys have settled, I think this will be a terrific side to watch.”
Dear’s thoughts were echoed by Hammers defender Pablo Zabaleta, who told www.whufc.com “We know we brought in some good players into the team who just need time to adapt to the new league and a new country, which is always difficult for the new players,” the Argentine explained.
“We just need to take it game by game and see how far we can go this season. We finished tenth last season and hopefully, we can improve.
“We’ve been working for one year with the manager now, so we know exactly what we have to do on the field, so there are no excuses.”
Looking ahead to Watford, Dear was confident of a West Ham victory but was mindful of a potentially tight contest.
“Listen, Watford will battle, scrap and generally make life as difficult as possible. In Troy Deeney, they have a fighter – he always looks up for the challenge in front of him.
“But I think West Ham now possess a little more quality and I think that will shine through on Saturday. A repeat of the 4-1 win at Vicarage Road last season would be fantastic. However, I think it will be an altogether closer encounter this time.”
Watford v West Ham United – Head to head:
Watford won: 21
West Ham United won: 43
Last five meetings (all competitions):
February 25, 2017 – Premier League
Watford 1-1 West Ham United
November 19, 2017 – Premier League
Watford 2-0 West Ham United
February 10, 2018 – Premier League
West Ham United 2-0 Watford
December 22, 2018 – Premier League
West Ham United 0-2 Watford
May 12, 2019 – Premier League
Watford 1-4 West Ham United
Brian Dear’s prediction: Watford 1-2 West Ham United
Jeevesie’s prediction: Watford 0-1 West Ham United