|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Watford brush West Ham aside to show David Moyes scale of the task he faces
Ed Aarons at Vicarage Road
datePublished Sunday 19 November 2017 18.12 GMT
If David Moyes had any illusions that keeping West Ham in the Premier League will not be among the biggest challenges of his career, then the manner of this defeat must surely act as a major wake-up call.
Aside from a 10-minute spell either side of half-time in his 500th Premier League match as a manager Moyes saw his new side totally outplayed by a Watford team brimming with confidence and instilled with a clear game plan by their manager, Marco Silva.
With his former club Everton keen on luring the man who has taken only three months to transform the fortunes of a side that lacked identity last season under Walter Mazzarri, the Scot will know he needs to turn things round just as quickly to ensure his latest assignment does not go the way of his other three posts since leaving Goodison Park to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in 2013. Well-taken goals from Will Hughes – his first in the Premier League on his full home debut – and Richarlison did the damage here, although in truth Watford had Heurelho Gomes to thank for keeping the scores level after two stunning saves from the goalkeeper just before the break.
“I thought the better team won the game,” admitted Moyes. “We need things to go our way to build some confidence because it’s tough for the players, I can sense that. But I didn’t enjoy the performance today.”
The Scot had promised to waste no time attempting to plug his new side’s leaky defence having already conceded 23 goals this season under Slaven Bilic, with Winston Reid retained despite returning to London only on Friday after New Zealand’s World Cup play-off defeat by Peru in Lima. Marko Arnautovic – a club record signing in the summer at £24m – was singled out by Moyes before the match as one of the players who under-performed for Bilic and intentions were immediately laid bare as the left-back Aaron Cresswell received the ball from the kick-off and hit a long ball in the general direction of the Austrian.
By contrast Watford have enjoyed an excellent start under Silva but three successive defeats since the victory over Arsenal here last month have dampened expectations slightly. The Portuguese steadfastly refused to discuss the prospect of joining Everton this week and handed the Dutchman Marvin Zeegelaar his debut at left wing-back, with Hughes making only his third Premier League appearance since joining from Derby for a cut-price £8m in the summer.
The attacking midfielder was impressive for England at the European Under-21 Championship in the summer but has had to bide his time under Silva so far since then. Yet the manner in which the 22-year-old swooped to convert Watford’s opener in the 11th minute after Andre Gray’s mis-hit effort fell straight to his feet suggested this is a player who can thrive at this level given an opportunity.
Floating inside from his starting position on the right, Hughes was at the heart of most of his team’s best movements during a first half in which West Ham appeared content just to stay in the match. A delightful flick on the half-hour mark almost set up Gray but the striker could not quite find his feet to apply the finish. After criticism arising from the statistic that West Ham’s players had covered less ground than any other team, his side were putting in the effort but found themselves second best in every department.
Yet Watford were grateful Gomes was still paying attention five minutes before half-time when a rare moment of enterprise on the edge of the box from Andy Carroll and Mark Noble played in Cheikhou Kouyaté, only for the Brazilian to pull off a brilliant one-on-one save. Gomes did even better to keep out two Arnautovic efforts from point-blank range in injury-time, leaving Moyes with his head in his hands in disbelief in the dugout.
Had it not been for Kouyaté’s wastefulness, West Ham would have drawn level six minutes after the restart following great work from Arnautovic down the right, only for the Senegal midfielder to blaze his effort over. That was to be as close as they got to achieving parity. With the impressive Abdoulaye Doucouré running the game, Watford were also likely to create chances and a fantastic save from Joe Hart to claw away Adrian Mariappa’s header kept his side in it. But the England goalkeeper could do nothing to prevent Richarlison doubling Watford’s lead, with protestations that Hughes had handled the ball before supplying the pass falling on deaf ears.
Moyes’s response was immediately to withdraw Carroll for Diafra Sakho – the outgoing striker met with a chorus of boos from the away end. “You’re not fit to wear the shirt,” they chanted. Even the announcement of eight minutes of injury time in which to salvage a point did not go down well with West Ham’s supporters, who seemed more concerned about venting their frustration at the situation they now find themselves in.
Moyes’s appeal for unity could yet have the desired effect, although it is hard to escape the feeling that things may get worse for him before they get better.
MATCH FACTS, RATINGS, PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Watford (3-5-2): Gomes 7.5; Mariappa 6.5, Kabasele 7, Britos 6.5; Femenia 6.5 (Holebas 86), Hughes 7.5 (Pereyra 84), Doucoure 6.5, Cleverley 7.5, Zeegelaar 6.5; Richarlison 8, Gray 7 (Carrillo 90)
Subs not used: Karnezis, Prodl, Capoue, Okaka
Goals: Hughes 11, Richarlison 64
Manager: Marco Silva 6.5
West Ham (4-3-3): Hart 6.5; Zabaleta 5, Reid 6, Ogbonna 6, Cresswell 5.5; Kouyate 4.5, Noble 6, Obiang 5; Arnautovic 5 (Masuaku 74, 5), Carroll 5 (Sakho 65, 5), Lanzini 5
Subs not used: Adrian, Fernandes, Rice, Quina, Martinez
Booked: Carroll, Arnautovic, Obiang, Noble
Manager: David Moyes 5
Referee: Andre Marriner 6