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