Watford hadn’t played a game since 10th December coming into this, but there were no early signs of rustiness as Emmanuel Dennis produced a moment of magic in the fourth minute. He showed patience and composure to sit Craig Dawson down with a dummy, before finding the top corner with a perfectly-struck effort.
Scoring goals hasn’t been the problem for Watford this season, but failing to keep clean sheets is why they’re a relegation contender. West Ham looked threatening after the opener and two quick-fire goals changed everything before the half-hour mark. Tomáš Souček hammered the ball home after a fine pass from Jarrod Bowen before Saïd Benrahma side-footed home to stun the ‘Hornets’ just two minutes after the equaliser.
VAR came to Watford’s rescue straight after HT as Bowen’s volley was ruled out for a Souček foul on Dennis in the build-up, but it also resulted in the third goal after hesitation in the home defence. Bowen reacted quickest to Michail Antonio’s lofted cross and was brought down by Daniel Bachmann, so it was left to stalwart Mark Noble to calmly double the visitors’ lead.
Watford struggled to gain any momentum as the game went on. A flurry of fouls broke the game up, while late substitute Nikola Vlašić made it 4-1 by side-footing home in stoppage time as West Ham ended a run of three PL matches without a win to continue pushing for a European place. Meanwhile, Watford has now suffered five defeats in a row but have scored in every game, so improving the defence has to be their priority in January.
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