Sunday 23 Dec
Updated Sunday 23 Dec 11:00
Opinion

Analysis: Clinical Watford 'do a West Ham' on the Hammers

Michail Antonio sees his header hit the Watford post

 

West Ham United were left to rue a succession of missed chances and sheer bad luck following Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat by Watford.

The Hammers’ four-match Premier League winning streak was brought to a stop by a resilient and determined Hornets team who have now won four of the last seven top-flight meetings between the two sides.

Manuel Pellegrini’s team had 18 shots on goal – three times as many as they had in their 2-0 win at Fulham a week previously, and more than they created in each of the victories they achieved in their previous four matches.

Where West Ham were clinical at Craven Cottage, they were wasteful at London Stadium, failing to beat Ben Foster despite unleashing eleven of those 18 attempts from inside the Watford penalty area.

All seven on-target attempts were saved by the former England goalkeeper, with Foster making particularly impressive stops to keep out a deflected Robert Snodgrass header just moments before Gerard Deulofeu’s match-clinching second for the visitors.

While Foster was in inspired form, he was helped by wasteful finishing from the men in Claret and Blue.

Twice, Chicharito had the ball at his feet just yards from the Watford goal, but on both occasions his low shots were dealt with by the goalkeeper. 

 

Michail Antonio sees his header hit the Watford crossbar

 

Michail Antonio went closest of all, testing Foster with a rasping first-half drive before sending a glancing header against the inside of the post from Snodgrass’s in-swinging corner.

Then, as frustrations threatened to get the better of the home side, the No30 sent a looping header against the Watford crossbar after Foster’s aforementioned one-handed save from Snodgrass.

At the other end, Javi Gracia’s side did a passable impression of West Ham at Fulham, scoring from Troy Deeney’s first-half penalty – correctly awarded for a foul on Roberto Pereyra by Fabian Balbuena – and an unstoppable low strike from Deulofeu three minutes from full-time. 

Watford had eleven shots in total, including five on target. Two found the net, while the other three were expertly saved by Lukasz Fabianski, who made smart second-half stops to deny Pereyra, Deeney and Abdoulaye Doucoure.

All in all, while Fulham felt understandably hard done by following West Ham’s win on their ground, the Hammers were left frustrated when Watford did a similar job on them on Saturday.

Football is an unpredictable game, full of variables, and the team which creates the most chances to score does not always win, as has been evidenced in each of the Hammers’ previous two matches...