Three Key Battles - Watford

As West Ham United look to avenge September’s 4-2 defeat to Watford on Saturday at Vicarage Road, takes a look at three key battles battles on the pitch in Hertfordshire which could prove crucial.

The Hammers stormed into a two-goal lead earlier this season against Walter Mazzarri’s team, but were pegged back as the Hornets equalised prior to the half time whistle before completing the comeback in the second period.

Slaven Bilic’s outfit are a different beast these days, however, and have won their last three Premier League matches on the road.

Having never lost back-to-back games against Watford in the league before, they’ll be keen to ensure that record is still in tact at 7:15pm on Saturday.


Behrami v Kouyate

In and out of the Hornets’ starting XI in recent games, ex-Hammer Valon Behrami will hope he is selected to face his former club. His team have only won three matches from their last 13 in the top flight, and the Swiss midfielder started in all three.

Meanwhile, Cheikhou Kouyate returned to the Hammers’ squad for the Southampton victory, after he was missing due to the African Cup of Nations. He played full-back against the Saints as well as in the recent 2-2 draw with West Brom, however with Sam Byram now fit, he could move into midfield.

In terms of comparing the two, the Senegalese seems to get around the pitch and have an impact more than his 31-year-old counterpart.

Kouyate makes more interceptions and clearances per game and his energy in the middle of the park could prove to be important on Saturday.


Cleverley v Snodgrass

Next up are two relatively new boys for Watford and West Ham; Tom Cleverley and Robert Snodgrass. The former re-joined the Hornets on loan from Everton in January, while Snodgrass left Hull City for London Stadium last month.

Since returning to Vicarage Road, Cleverley has had a big impact on Watford’s form, helping the side take eight points from 15 while they had gained just one in the previous five games.

He’s set up two goals, too – against Bournemouth and Arsenal – and looks to be rediscovering the form which impressed Sir Alex Ferguson so much at Manchester United.

And though Scotsman Snodgrass is yet to register a goal or an assist for West Ham, his influence is already clear – he drives the team forward, completing over two key passes per match and always looks to line himself up for an attempt on goal where he can.


Amrabat v Feghouli

As well as physically looking relatively similar, Sofiane Feghouli and Nordin Amrabat’s style of play on the pitch is also comparable.

Both flying wingers who look to set goals up for their teammates, the African pair are dangers for any defence.

Feghouli has really hit some form of late, and goals against Crystal Palace and West Brom added to the two assists he also has this season in the Premier League.

Amrabat is certainly one to look out for on Saturday, too. He has made three goals for teammates this term and loves to get to the byline and pull back a cross.