Jarrod Bowen and West Ham exposed Watford time and time again in a 4-1 win over the relegation-threatened Hornets at Vicarage Road on Tuesday.
Bowen had two assists and drew a penalty converted by Mark Noble as the Irons turned the Watford defense inside-out with Nikola Vlasic, Tomas Soucek, and the ever-dangerous Said Benrahma also scoring for the Hornets.
WATCH WATFORD v WEST HAM FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK
West Ham goes back into fifth place with 31 points, having played two more matches than chasers Tottenham and Manchester United.
Watford sits 17th, two points better than Burnley and Newcastle, and three ahead of Norwich City.
Watford vs West Ham final score, stats
Watford 1-4 West Ham
Scorers: Dennis 4′, Soucek 27′, Benrahma 29′, Noble (pen) 58′, Vlasic 90’+2
Shots: Watford 14-13 West Ham
Shots on goal: Watford 5-6 West Ham
Possession: Watford 43-57 West Ham
Three things we learned from Watford vs West Ham
1. Irons (almost) in a class of their own (but not how you think): West Ham is not close to being a top-four side, regardless of what the table said earlier this year. That they’ve been there is a testament to their players and David Moyes but over time there’s going to be regression relative to the class of players at five (maybe six other clubs). That said, they are better than 11-12 other teams in a similar relative fashion. Wolves are right with West Ham and Everton could be with a healthy Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. West Ham has no fear of living in the bottom half, but even if Jarrod Bowen, Said Benrahma, Michail Antonio, Declan Rice, and Manuel Lanzini all stay at their best, fourth place is a bridge too far.
2. Watfor-gettabout-defending: You feel for Claudio Ranieri, who has some very good attackers and is missing Christian Kabasele, because his Hornets are definitely trying to follow his advice and stop the ball from going into the goal. They just aren’t very good at it. Watch Said Benrahma’s goal, as Franciso Sierralta just… keeps… monitoring the Algerian right up to the moment his shot goes into the goal. It’s really bad, and Watford is going to need incredible goalkeeping and/or a lot of three-goal performances to stay up. Juraj Kucka and Kabasele will make some difference, but how much? And where’s Jay DeMerit (we kid)?
3. Given Thing No. 1, should West Ham focus on cups? The West Ham project would do well with another run in Europe and if we’ve established that the top four is out of the question but top six (or seven) is very much in the cards, should Moyes prioritize the FA Cup and Europa League when those fixtures come up on the calendar? The former assumes the Irons beat Leeds in the third round, but consider what an extended Europa League run could mean to the club, who could welcome clubs like Napoli, Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund, and Barcelona to town. That’s where the Irons can collect the eyes of their transfer targets. We’re not saying forget the PL, not at all, but the club is good enough to stay around their standards while focusing on silverware.
Man of the Match: Jarrod Bowen
Two assists on three key passes. Eight of 14 duels won. A penalty won. And he missed a chance to score, too.
Watford’s attack can get you, even without Ismaila Sarr
Emmanuel Dennis, Ismaila Sarr, Joshua King.
These are the names on which Watford’s supporters can hang their hopes of survival, and Dennis showed just how special he can be with this goal.
Look at this powerful drive and vicious shot across his body. It’s essentially unstoppable.
Watford’s defending will hold it back, even when Christian Kabasele returns
Seemingly everyone in the Premier League occasionally loses track of Tomas Soucek, who has an ability to ghost into dangerous areas while opponents eye the Lanzinis, Antonios, Bowens, and Benrahmas of this world, but there are only so many excuses you can make for the Hornets, whose back line needs January.
Francisco Sierralta was a nightmare. He literally looks to, away, and back to Benrahama multiple times as the Algerian moves into space to collect Antonio’s pass. Yeesh.
Watford vs West Ham final score: Hornets 1-4 West Ham