West Ham United will be hoping to win for the first time in five matches in all competitions when they take on Watford, who can now play out the season with the satisfaction of having broken the 40-point barrier.
There was a lot to dissect from West Ham’s game at leaders Leicester City on Sunday, where two quick-fire goals in the dying minutes saw them go ahead and make their one-man advantage count, only for a disputed penalty at the death to deny them all three points.
Overall the performance was pleasing, and worthy of a team that still harbours outside hopes of a place in the top four, while the key to their success on the day was an ability to match and sometimes better the level of work-rate in the Leicester midfield.
The concession of the penalty left a bitter taste in the mouth for manager Slaven Bilic, who can lay legitimate claims to have been on the end of some poor decisions of late. The award was certainly controversial, but the fact remains that Andy Carroll was careless in the extreme to even enter into a challenge in that area of the pitch.
There will be an expectation on the Hammers to claim victory here, especially with the visitors having more than half an eye on their upcoming FA Cup semi-final. However, Watford can still be expected to make this one a contest and after their gruelling victory at West Bromwich Albion will be playing with the freedom that comes with knowing they are safe.
That result, sealed by a neat Ben Watson finish and two penalty saves from inspired goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, confirmed how wonderful a season it has been for the Championship runners-up of 2015, and the best thing is that it can get even better depending on what they do against Crystal Palace at Wembley.
Gomes has a well-earned reputation for being very strong when facing penalties and he came good again at the Hawthorns, and it is likely that he will need to be at his best again here to keep out a West Ham side with some top-drawer attacking options. Manager Quique Flores will be calling on those in front of Gomes to stay compact and aim to frustrate. D
iafra Sakho could miss out again for West Ham, while this game may also come too soon for Alexandre Song.
Watford will make a number of changes for this one with the FA Cup in mind, but Almen Abdi, Craig Cathcart and Jose Holebas should be back available.
Last Meeting: A penalty from Darius Henderson saw Watford boost their survival chances and extend West Ham’s miserable run of form in February 2007. The striker converted after being fouled by Anton Ferdinand, while the hosts missed a spot-kick of their own as Marlon Harewood fired wastefully wide, confirming another bad day in their troubled season.
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