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Three talking points as David Moyes’ first West Ham outing ended in defeat at Watford

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West Ham

David Moyes’ first game in charge of West Ham didn’t quite go to plan as goals either side of half-time from Will Hughes and Richarlison earned Watford all three points at Vicarage Road on Sunday.

The enormity of the task at hand for the ex-Manchester United boss loomed even larger after just eleven minutes when the hosts went in front, with the ball falling kindly inside of the penalty box for Hughes to fire into the corner and score his first Premier League goal.

West Ham responded well though and should have grabbed an equaliser when Cheikhou Kouyate was put through one-on-one, but Heurelho Gomes rushed out well to deflect his effort past the post.

The Watford goalkeeper was at it again not long after, producing a fine double save from an improved Marko Arnautovic to ensure that the Hornets retained their narrow lead heading into the break.

West Ham’s wastefulness continued to cause frustration as another chance went begging after the break, with Kouyate finding space inside the box once again only to blast an effort high over the bar.

It was the hosts who then struck the hammer blow though, with Richarlison afforded the opportunity to run at the West Ham defence before sealing the victory with a powerful low drive.

The result sees West Ham rooted inside the bottom three, a point adrift of safety and of West Brom ahead of them, whilst Watford’s first win in four Premier League matches sees them rise to eighth.

Moyes has a lot of work to do

Defeat at Watford signalled the seventh time that West Ham have lost this campaign in just 12 Premier League matches, with the Hammers now winless in their previous five top-flight games.

The magnitude of the task ahead may have become a little more realistic after watching his new side in action for the first-time, with the visitors looking disjointed in defence as they have done all season, and they now have the unwanted accolade of the worst defensive record in the league with 25 conceded.

The big task for Moyes is getting the fans back on side too, who made it clear of their stance with numerous chants directed at the owners and certain players, and it’s tough times down in London.

However, there were small signs of resolve from the Hammers on an ultimately disappointing afternoon, with Moyes’ side guilty of missing a whole host of chances which could easily have gone in on another day.

They met a Watford goalkeeper in top form, with Heurelho Gomes denying the Hammers on a number of occasions from close range, whilst Cheikhou Kouyate missed a glaring opportunity just moments after the break when completely free inside the area and Manuel Lanzini’s shot was expertly cleared off the line.

The cliché goes that when your luck’s out, your luck’s out, and Moyes will hope that his side can be gifted some good fortune in the upcoming weeks as he endeavours to kick-start his West Ham reign.

Silva’s future in the balance but the Hornets continue to impress

With one manager taking his place for his first game in charge of a club, one could have taken his place for the final time as speculation of Marco Silva’s switch to Everton remains a firm possibility.

It’s no secret that the owners at Goodison Park want Silva to lead the Toffees forward – with the financial benefits undoubtedly large for the Portuguese tactician should he decide to move to Merseyside – but he’s created an exciting project at Vicarage Road that would be hard to walk away from.

And one player who has been at the heart of Watford’s revival has been their Brazilian summer recruit Richarlison, who once again found the back of the net during an impressive performance on Sunday.

The youngster has the naivety and a flair that hasn’t been seen on the Vicarage Road pitch for a while and it’s been a recipe that’s served up some scintillating attacking play in the opening 12 matches.

West Ham simply didn’t have any answers to his directness – with the 32-year-old Pablo Zabaleta particularly being targeted down the left – and Richarlison embodies everything good about Watford this year.

Gomes the unlikely hero for Watford

It is fair to say that if it wasn’t for Heurelho Gomes it could have been a different story though.

The veteran goalkeeper may well be remembered for his underwhelming contribution as Tottenham’s number one but he has certainly stepped up to the plate lately at Vicarage Road, and it was his outstanding display that ultimately earnt his side all three points on Sunday afternoon.

With the hosts a goal up after Will Hughes’ first-half effort, it seemed for all the world that West Ham midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate would grab an equaliser when picked out in space inside the area.

Yet the 36-year-old was extremely quick off his line, rushing out to smother the effort and turn it around the post – although Gomes went one better before half-time with an excellent double save.

This time it was the turn of Marko Arnautovic – who enjoyed his best game in a West Ham shirt up until he was hauled off with a serious-looking arm injury – who was thwarted by the Watford ‘keeper, with Gomes somehow changing direction to fingertip away the Austrian’s deflected header.

These were two moments that repelled the visitors during their best spell of the game and kept Watford’s noses in front, and Gomes deserves credit for his efforts as Watford re-found their winning formula.

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

Match Reaction

“Terrible, terrible manager”: West Ham fans lose patience with David Moyes

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Photo: Getty Images.

Drawing with Stoke City was a disappointing result which brought West Ham firmly back to earth after seeing off Southampton and then drawing at Stamford Bridge, but fans pointed the finger at one man in particular: David Moyes.

The former Everton, Manchester United and Sunderland boss opted to retain the same starting line-up that took a point from Chelsea and used the same 5-4-1 system, deploying Marko Arnautovic as a makeshift centre-forward.

On home turf against second from bottom Stoke City, the conservative set up almost ended in catastrophe as Joe Hart’s calamitous error allowed Peter Crouch to give his side the lead before Andy Carroll’s last gasp equaliser.

Fans did not hide their displeasure on Twitter…

The Scot’s contract is set to run until the summer with safety still not secured for the Hammers, who have been brought right back into the fight by drawing against the Potters.

It could have been worse for the Irons had David Moyes not looked to his bench, where he first deployed the hero at Chelsea, Javier Hernandez, but even then not until the 77th minute.

Playmaker Manuel Lanzini joined in with only nine minutes left on the clock and Andy Carroll, who proved to be the equaliser, was only given four minutes of normal time plus injury time.

(Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

With fixtures coming up against the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United before the season is out, fans were baffled by the decision to go quite so defensive in a must win game at the London Stadium.

Now, West Ham are seven points from safety with five games left to play but only face opposition against top half sides, with a trip to face Leicester City and Sam Allardyce’s return on the final day of the season with Everton completing the club’s fixture list.

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Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace 2-3 Manchester United: Three talking points from Selhurst Park

The Red Devils mounted an incredible comeback at Selhurst Park.

Rob Meech

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Photo: Getty Images

Nemanja Matic scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner as Manchester United overturned a two-goal deficit to inflict more pain on struggling Crystal Palace. Matic fired home from 25 yards to complete a memorable comeback from United, whose victory helped them regain second spot in the Premier League. Palace, meanwhile, remain in the relegation zone after slipping to their third successive defeat.

Selhurst Park was rocking when Andros Townsend put the hosts ahead via a huge deflection, before Patrick van Aanholt doubled their lead shortly after the break. However, Chris Smalling gave United hope 10 minutes later and the visitors then restored parity through Romelu Lukaku. With time ebbing away the draw looked inevitable, only for Matic to break Palace’s hearts with his first goal for the club. Here are three talking points…

(Photo by Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images)

Palace’s survival hopes suffer a hammer blow

A week earlier, the Eagles thought they had earned a vital point against Spurs in their battle to avoid the drop. That was until Harry Kane popped up to snatch victory with practically the last touch of the game. A sense of deja-vu was palpable when, after another encouraging performance against one of the top-flight’s heavyweights, Matic ensured Palace went home empty-handed. It was a monumental body blow.

Roy Hodgson’s side had belied their lowly league position and taken the attack to United, deservedly assuming complete control. Had the score remained at 2-0, Palace would have been as high as 13th in the table. But United’s comeback, which left Hodgon and his players visibly deflated, means they are 18th, one point adrift of safety with an inferior goal difference. Although the performance was a positive one, the result leaves the South London club deep in the mire.

(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Mourinho buoyed as United show resilience

For all the talk about how this has been a disappointing campaign for United, they leapfrogged Liverpool into second place as a result of this stunning victory. Jose Mourinho’s men exhibited substantial amounts of steel in doing so. They faced a real test of character, having fallen behind against a team fighting for their lives. It looked like a mountainous task, but United fought their way back into the game before snatching all three points at the death.

This was the first time since 2013 that the Red Devils had clawed back a two-goal deficit to win a Premier League match. Of all their victories this season, perhaps this one will please Mourinho the most. Any divisions are quickly exposed when teams find themselves in trouble. But the way United stuck to their task was a big statement at a key stage of the season. It should give Mourinho belief that his side can see off the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the battle to finish runners-up.

(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Hodgson desperate for Wilfried Zaha’s return

Hodgson has previously tried to dismiss its significance, but Palace’s inability to win without Wilfried Zaha cannot be passed off as an anomaly. The Eagles have lost every single one of the nine Premier League games in which the 25-year-old has not featured this season, scoring only one goal in the process. For a while it looked as though that alarming record would be consigned to the history books, until United mounted an inspired comeback.

Zaha is clearly a talented individual whose absence would affect any team’s potency, but Palace’s over-reliance on him must be very concerning. The Ivory Coast international is currently sidelined through a knee injury and although he is back in light training, Hodgson has put no timeframe on his return to the fold. It’s no exaggeration to argue the Eagles’ survival aspirations depend on him.

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Bournemouth

Leicester City 1-1 Bournemouth: Three talking points from the King Power

Rob Meech

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Leicester City
Photo: Getty Images

Riyad Mahrez’s stunning 97th-minute free-kick rescued a point for Leicester City against Bournemouth.

Mahrez, who had been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City in the January transfer window, curled the ball past Asmir Begovic from 30 yards to deny the Cherries victory in a grandstand finish at the King Power Stadium.

Joshua King had given Bournemouth a first-half lead when he stepped up to dispatch a spot-kick after being fouled inside the area.

The Foxes threw everything at their opponents in the second period but had to wait until deep into added-time for a dramatic equaliser.

Here are three talking points…

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Redemption for Mahrez after troubling period

The Algerian’s attempts to engineer a switch to City and subsequent failure to report to training had not been well received by Leicester supporters.

Mahrez had been a key figure in the Foxes’ phenomenal Premier League title triumph two years ago, but his reputation suffered a battering when he made it clear he saw his future away from the club.

After a difficult period for all involved, Mahrez is back in the fold and now back in the fans’ good books.

His last-minute goal against the Cherries certainly was evidence of his redemption.

Thirty yards out, the 27-year-old started the ball outside the wall and watched it bend back past Begovic’s outstretched right hand.

Leicester, who have never beaten Bournemouth in the top-flight, are winless in five Premier League matches, but they remain eighth in the table.

With Mahrez’s reintegration seemingly complete, a fruitful finish to the season could even help them push for a European place.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Howe ‘disgusted’ as Bournemouth concede so late

Bournemouth’s backs had been firmly up against the wall in the second half as they sought to hold on to their tenuous advantage.

It looked to have been a worthwhile effort until Mahrez’s moment of magic.

A share of the spoils was probably fair in the context of the game, but Cherries manager Eddie Howe admitted he felt ‘disgusted’ after watching the visitors concede so late.

Only four minutes of stoppage-time had been scheduled, but an injury to Simon Francis as well as a substitution meant referee Lee Probert played nearly double that amount.

Despite missing out on what would have been a crucial win, Bournemouth are edging towards safety.

They have lost only once since Christmas, a run that has helped them climb out of the relegation zone and amass 33 points.

Two more victories from their remaining nine fixtures should be enough to secure Premier League football for a fourth successive campaign.

(Photo by Roland Harrison/Getty Images)

Summer will be a key time for both clubs

In a league that is dominated by the so-called ‘Big Six’, the primary aim of the other 14 clubs is survival.

As mentioned above, both Leicester and Bournemouth are all but guaranteed to be playing in the top-flight next season.

The question for both in the summer will be, how can they push on?

The first job for the Foxes’ hierarchy and manager Claude Puel will be deciding the future of Mahrez.

Do they cash in on their star player and reinvest the funds into the squad, or do they try to tie him down to a new contract?

Bournemouth’s ambitions are perhaps not as high as Leicester’s, but after finishing ninth last season, another mid-table position will consolidate their status as a bona fide Premier League outfit.

On the field, there may be some significant outgoings as Howe looks to freshen his resources.

The out-of-favour Harry Arter is one player who looks likely to leave the south coast.

Off the field, the club will hope its plans for a new stadium get closer to becoming a reality.

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