High-flying West Ham United will be aiming to pick up their sixth win in eight Premier League matches when they travel to Watford, who will be determined to avoid a third consecutive home defeat.
After a three game run which yielded just one point and one goal, Watford upset the form book last weekend at Stoke City by claiming a richly deserved victory, taking advantage of some poor defending to move further clear of the bottom three. Out of the three newly promoted teams, it is the Hornets – contrary to many pre-season predictions – who have adapted the best, thanks largely to having formed an impressively solid defensive unit.
They kept another clean sheet at the Britannia Stadium, but the day belonged to Troy Deeney, who scored his first Premier League goal at the 10th attempt. It was due reward for a player who has epitomised Watford in recent seasons, showing great consistency, and he certainly showed a great touch when it came to putting his chance away. He will take immense confidence from that, and will enter what is set to be a keenly contested battle with the West Ham back four with renewed relish.
Things are just getting better and better for the Londoners, who could hardly have expected to achieve what they have over the first 10 games, beating four of last season’s top six to leave themselves wandering in very lofty territory. Their last victims were defending champions Chelsea in an incident-packed encounter, and it was club record signing Andy Carroll who emerged from the shadows to gleefully head the winner.
It was a delirious moment for West Ham, and one which emphasised the strength in depth that Slaven Bilic has available, particularly in attacking areas. Mauro Zarate seems rejuvenated alongside the reliable Diafra Sakho, while aside from Carroll their bench comprised the likes of Michail Antonio, Nikica Jelavic and Enner Valencia. These really are exciting times, and given their tremendous away record, confidence at the Hammers will be sky-high as they search for a fifth win in six on the road.
Defenders Joel Ekstrand and Tommie Hoban are still out for Watford, but they should be able to welcome back playmaker Jose Manuel Jurado.
West Ham have Alexandre Song out, but could hand recalls to Victor Moses and Winston Reid, who are back available.