It’s now time to take a look back at some of the main causes of discussion in the wake of Saturday’s Premier League clash between David Moyes’ West Ham United and Javier Gracia’s Watford at the London Stadium, as the Hammers remained unbeaten at home in all competitions in 2018.
Hammers Claim Vital Relegation-Battle Points
West Ham’s win against the Hornets over the weekend wasn’t just significant in carrying on their impressive recent form, but also a huge stride forward in their bid for Premier League survival.
While they failed to move up a place with the points, they did manage to re-affirm their position in 12th and go level on points with the Golden Boys directly above them.
Furthermore, the Irons have now out a cushion between them and the drop zone that they have now managed to stay out of for several weeks, five points, though things remain tight at the bottom.
With 30 points, the club may well be just a few wins away from securing safety for another campaign, reaching the famous 40-point marker, they’re being tipped to comfortably do this without the distraction of participating in any other competition to worry about.
A huge part of them getting into the strong position has been the arrival of Moyes, who replaced Slaven Bilic in early November, and was tasked with keeping the East Londoners afloat.
He has done this by making them hard to beat and hard to score against, Saturday being a prime example of that, though they did taste a rare loss last weekend away at Brighton & Hove Albion.
Since being defeated by Manchester City in early December, Moyes’ men have lost a mere two times in 13 matches in the League, the run that has propelled them up the table, while that was Watford’s eighth defeat in 11 outings.
But, the job of survival hasn’t quite been completed for both of these teams yet and they will both face tough challenges next up after a weekend off, the Irons travel to Anfield and the ‘Orns play host to Everton.
Arnautovic Picks Up Where He Left Off
Making his return from a three-game injury lay-off, Austrian forward Marko Arnautovic was able to get straight back to business by living up to the standards that he laid down before his knock.
Prior to getting injured, the former Stoke City man had six goals in ten matches in all competitions, picking up a hamstring problem in a home draw with AFC Bournemouth.
Now, the Austria International has a highly-impressive record over his last nine outings in the PL with seven strikes and three assists something that he was able to round off two days ago.
His only goal came in the 78th minute of the affair and it was a pivotal one too, the strike that sealed the three points for the hosts, ending suggestions if a comeback by the away side.
Left-back Aaron Cresswell decided to take a corner short with another man making his comeback from injury in Michail Antonio, his advance was blocked with the ball falling back to Cresswell the England man.
He fired in the ball and keeper Orestis Karnezis parried the ball away, leaving Jose Holebas’ clearance deflect of Dodi Lukebakio and fall to the feet of the ex-Inter Milan star.
His tight touch allowed him to fire the ball past the Greek International with power and accuracy to the delight of the home supporters and there is little doubting that Marko is back with a bang.
But, Arnautovic’s Man of the Match showing wasn’t the only stand-out performance of the afternoon, while there were plenty of others, goalkeeper Adrian San-Miguel was highlighted by many.
The Spaniard had several impressive saves to make, including keeping out an Adrian Mariappa header in the first period and then a Gerard Deulofeu free-kick after half-time most notably, the likes of James Collins, Antonio and Javier Hernandez.
However, there is little doubting that to achieve a result in their next outing away at Liverpool, they will need every star to be on top form and they will have a rare weekend of rest bite to prepare.
Chicharito Continues Impressive Run
Joining Arnautovic on seven goals for the season at the top of West Ham’s top-scorers list was Mexico’s all-time leading goal-scorer Chicharito on another impressive afternoon for him.
Having already had a goal disallowed for offside, with just over five minutes remaining until half-time, Hernandez struck, doing what he does best from inside the penalty area.
Antonio broke down the left side with his trademark strength and pace to deliver the ball for Chicharito, he lost his marker Marvin Zeegelaar and was left with a simple tap-in.
The former Manchester United man now has three goals in the space of four League matches, his seventh of the campaign and is enjoying a run of games like no other in 2017/2018.
In the wake of a period of uncertainty, Hernandez is now set for a strong finish to the season, just weeks after his Hammers future looked to be in peril, though it is not hard to see the change in him under Moyes.
Much like Arnautovic, the Scottish manager has been able to harness the best of his abilities when they were needed the most, but the ex-Real Madrid star also shared some of the spotlight with another forward.
Later in the encounter, Deadline Day signing from Preston North End Jordan Hugill, came on for his home debut and will be hoping for more action over the next few weeks, maybe even from the start, so too fellow new man Patrice Evra, will they get a look in after the break?
What Did The Managers Have To Say?
Let’s find out what both managers had to say in their respective Post-Match Press Conferences at the London Stadium, which MooreThanJustAClub were fortunate enough to be in.
“He’s (Arnautovic) getting no praise, he’s got to keep at it and he’s getting pushed all the way, look, he’s doing well for us but we’re not letting him off the hook.
“He’s only trained three days this week to be fair, but you can see the impact that he has for us and I think being a centre-forward has nearly freed him up a wee bit.
“You’ve got to remember that this team just beat Chelsea 4-1 in midweek and they put us under pressure in the second-half, so this was always going to be a really difficult game for us”.
“But, for us to draw level with them, Watford have been above us certainly since my first game, we’ve never been level with them or close to Watford, today we’ve drawn level with them”.
“Today wasn’t our best performance and I think West Ham was more aggressive than us and they dominated the areas, both, OK, we tried in the second better, but it wasn’t possible, OK, we try next time.
“I think our last match against Chelsea show us the way or how we can get points, running, fighting.
“And today, we didn’t do it enough, OK, I think that we can do better, I’m sure and I’m confident next time we will do better.
“We have more ball possession in the second-half, but we didn’t create clear chances, attacking, OK we tried to change the shape of the team, but we didn’t create clear chances”.
So, now that everything there was to talk about in the wake if a positive afternoon for the Claret & Blue Army has been well and truly covered, will there be yet more positives to draw on come the evening of Saturday week? After Moyes’ men have paid Jurgen Klopp’s Reds a visit on Merseyside in the Premier League.