An impressive performance from Marco Silva’s Watford condemned David Moyes to a defeat in his 500th Top-Flight game and his first as Hammers Boss at Vicarage Road yesterday afternoon.
It would be an exhibition in missed chances and under-par defender from his side, but the home team, to their credit, seized their opportunities going ahead first on 11 minutes through a neat finish from Will Hughes.
That lead was then doubled on the counter-attack in the second period by Richarlison De Andrade, with the visitors offering very little in terms of resistance in the affair, unable to mount a comeback.
An admirable victory for The Yellow Army takes them up as far as eighth, but still four points off fellow flyers Burnley a place above them, however, there are now increasingly worrying times in East London as we sit 18th, further adrift of safety.
From the start in Hertfordshire, Hornets Manager Marco Silva decided on two alterations from his side’s disappointing late defeat at Goodison Park the other side of The International Break.
In defence, Jose Holebas made way for Premier League debutant Marvin Zeegelaar, whilst defender Adrian Mariappa took the place of Peru International Andre Carrillo in a formation change for the hosts.
Meanwhile, David Moyes opted for three changes for his first line-up as Hammers Boss from the home defeat to Liverpool, which led to the sacking of his predecessor Slaven Bilic.
Pablo Zabaleta returned from suspension in place of Swiss youngster Edimilson Fernandes, whilst injured Javier Hernandez and ill Andre Ayew made way for the attacking duo of Andy Carroll and club-record signing winger Marko Arnautovic.
On a chilly evening just North of The Capital, the hosts always looked like the team that wanted it more, enjoying the better of the first ten minutes’ play.
They were then swiftly rewarded for their patient build-up play with a little bit of help from old lady luck, and some lackadaisical Hammers defending, of course.
Zeegelaar had delivered a promising ball into the area that was nodded away to Andre Gray by Aaron Cresswell, with the forward finding Hughes with a scuffed shot, who tuned superbly to direct the ball into the far corner and become The Hornets’ 11th different scorer this campaign, the most in the entire PL.
This had come just minutes after Andy Carroll was lucky to not be dismissed for a flying elbow on Zeegelaar, the former England man had been sent off for a similar offence at Turf Moor last month.
Meanwhile, Watford had a bone to pick with Andre Marriner again shortly after as Zabaleta caught Gray in the box and he waved away penalty appeals.
It would take Moyes’ boys the best part of 45 minutes to do so, but when they got their mojo on chances were created at the other end of the Vic pitch.
First, Skipper Mark Noble slipped Cheikhou Kouyate in with a delicate pass, but Heurelho Gomes was able to prevent him from rolling the ball into the bottom left corner.
Despite this, the Brazilian was able to top his previous efforts with a magnificent double save just minutes later as Arnautovic was denied twice, firstly from a wickedly deflected header and secondly from a close-range flick, stops that would prove vital to the hosts’ cause.
Kouyate, having Captained his Senegal team to their second World Cup last week, was again in the thick of the attacking action as Arnautovic did well to brush aside pressure and tee him up for a golden opportunity, but the midfielder could only fire over, a miss that would prove very costly indeed.
Just a short while later, a Winston Reid header could only find Hughes who picked out the quick-breaking Richarlison, with the young prodigy besting Joe Hart from just inside the area.
There would be controversy yet again as the former Derby County man appeared to handle the ball before playing his pass, the goal also came at a crucial as Moyes was just readying his first substitute in Claret & Blue Diafra Sakho.
The African’s presence did little to affect the outcome of the fixture, despite the fact that Manuel Lanzini’s late effort seemed destined to find the bottom corner if it weren’t for an incredible block from Christian Kabasele.
At this point, it became clear that it just wasn’t the travelling Claret & Blue Army’s day, even more so when Arnautovic went down in clear distress nursing what appeared to be a broken wrist.
In the end, The Golden Boys were able to hold out for the easiest of 2-0 victories they could have hoped for and will face off with Newcastle away next up, although it’s unclear whether Silva will be in charge.
Meanwhile, Moyes will need to rally his new troops very quickly indeed ahead of Friday night’s crucial visit of Leicester City to The London Stadium, his first home affair in charge.