After The Whistle : West Ham 2–4 Watford
“If we defend like this, we aren't going to win a single game”
— Slaven Bilić
The above are words of a frustrated manager who had just watched his side lose a game in which they seemed to be in total control of after just five minutes when Michail Antonio, a man still basking in the great form that saw him earn his first England call-up, give West Ham the lead. After 33 minutes the Hammers seemed to be cruising after going two goals up. But it would end in a shocking defeat after goals from Ighalo, Deeney, Capoue and Holebas ensured Watford came from behind to win at the Olympic stadium 4–2.
Watford came into this game still looking for their first victory of the season. With only one point from their first three games, coming up against a dynamic West Ham team with a fit again Dimitri Payet in the starting lineup at their new home ground, this looked to be another daunting test.
Bilić made 4 changes to his side. Payet and Lanzini returned to the starting lineup while Simone Zaza was making his premier league debut. The Hammers started the game with intent from the off. Antonio showing strength to get past defenders, sent a shot towards goal that came off the legs of Gomes. Within five minutes, West Ham were 1–0 up. Payet’s corner from the left was met by Antonio, who glanced his header past Gomes to give his side the lead. His third goal in as many games this season already. To be fair to Watford they were also having a go at their opponents. Perreira dribbled past Payet, crossed the ball for Ighalo to connect, but the shot was saved by Adrian. Lanzini showed a glimpse of what he adds to his team by trying an audacious rabona shot that went agonizingly wide. West Ham seemed to be in cruise control at this point, and on the half hour mark got their second goal of the game. Dimitri Payet bamboozled a defender and sent a classy rabona cross across the face of goal where Antonio was lurking. The Englishman was perfectly positioned to head home his second of the game and fourth goal of the season.
Watford were down but not out. Deeney released Ighalo down the left, he cut inside the backtracking Byram and shot towards goal which took a deflection and beat Adrian. The game was on as that goal gave Watford confidence. On the stroke of half time Watford captain Deeney gave his side an equalizer. A long ball saw a breakdown in communication between Adrian and Collins as the latter headed the ball over his oncoming goalkeeper. Deeney collected the ball from behind and his delightful lob landed in the top corner of the net. Bilić looked livid going into the break.
It got worse for the Hammers in the second half. Roberto Perreira who has had a bright start to his Premier League career crossed from the right towards Ighalo who failed to connect, But Capoue was waiting and he rifled in a shot to put Watford ahead for the first time in the game. After an hour the capitulation was complete as Ighalo held the ball up, teed it for Holebas to score their fourth.
“What I told them at half-time was for some of you it looks like you are trying to do what I told you not to do”thegoldcoastreport.com
After the game Watford captain Deeney said that one of the things that inspired their spirited comeback was the fact that they felt the West Ham players were making a mockery of them. Bilić insists his side were not complacent, but perhaps he may be telling them something different behind the scenes.
It was a poor defensive display that let the Hammers down and they would know now that defensive solidity and discipline are as important as attacking flair. Perhaps this game would have been the perfect opportunity to hand new signing Alvaro Arbeloa his debut over Byram, who seemed to struggle against the lively Ighalo. This season was meant to be the one Westham finally pushed further forward than they already have, with exciting players and a brand new stadium. But after getting dumped out of Europe and inconsistency in performances, there is still some work to be done to achieve their goals this season.
Watford on the other hand can take a lot from this victory. Their manager believes they have been playing well but results simply have not gone their way. It speaks volumes of their character as many teams, feeling let down by their misfortunes in previous games and with a similar poor start would have probably folded in the circumstances. Ighalo and Deeney seem to be getting their groove back and Roberto Perreira looks like he’s going to be an exciting player for the Hornets.