European competition next season may be out of reach, but a top-ten finish for West Ham and Watford is a distinct possibility as we head towards the home stretch of the regular season. This week of Premier League action is kicked off with a London derby between West Ham and Fulham and Watford visiting Cardiff City.
One notable name that has been missing from West Ham’s lineup all season could finally be back in the gameday squad. Manager Manuel Pellegrini revealed that Argentine international Manuel Lanzini, along with Samir Nasri, could both feature in West Ham’s match against Fulham on Friday. The 26-year-old midfielder has been out ever since suffering a devastating ACL injury while in World Cup training camp with Argentina.
Whether he’s ready to go 90 minutes is unclear, but West Ham certainly needs him. The squad has lost five consecutive matches in all competitions, with just four goals scored. The strikers haven’t been able to finish very well recently, but the lack of a creative midfielder has really hurt the Irons in the most important sectors of the field.
Fulham meanwhile are in serious trouble with just 12 matches remaining. Fulham is eight points behind Cardiff City in the top spot outside of the relegation zone.
INJURIES: West Ham — OUT: Jack Wilshere (ankle); PROBABLE: Samir Nasri (calf) | Fulham —OUT: None; PROBABLE: None
Cardiff City v. Watford — 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
Watford enacted a little bit of revenge last week after defeating former manager Marco Silva and Everton. This week, it’s arguably a tougher task.
Cardiff City supporters have helped will their team to three-straight victories, after the tragic plane crash carrying footballer Emiliano Sala. Cardiff has poked its head out of the relegation zone, and will be desperate for another home victory. Watford, meanwhile, is looking to solidify a place in the Premier League’s top ten.
Interestingly, all ten of Watford’s wins this season have come with Abdoulaye Doucoure in the starting eleven.
INJURIES: Cardiff City — OUT: None; PROBABLE: None | Watford —OUT: Kiko Femenia (hamstring); PROBABLE: Roberto Pereyra (hamstring), Isaac Success (hamstring), Sebastian Prödl (hamstring and knee)
Hosts Watford snare late point v. Newcastle United
Salomon Rondon had the ball in the goal but was defied by a tight offside call before a chance at the other end; Deulofeu found himself 1v1 with Martin Dubravka in the 16th minute, but the Newcastle keeper made a fine block to keep the match scoreless.
Ayoze Perez’s second half goal was enough for Newcastle United to win its first Premier League match of the season and emerge from the drop zone with a 1-0 defeat of Watford at St. James’ Park on Saturday.
The Magpies now have six points, while Watford has 19 and sits eighth.
The win avoids the worst start in Newcastle history.
Spurs and Chelsea had to work hard for their berths in the fourth round, but Arsenal and West Ham found life a bit easier.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 (4-2 PKs) Watford
Isaac Success scored just after halftime to give the Hornets a lead at the Stadium MK, where Spurs hosted the encounter thanks to construction delays at their new stadium and an NFL game at Wembley Stadium.
Forest scored five minutes before and after halftime in building a 3-0 lead en route to the next round. Benik Afobe and Saido Berahino pulled goals back for the Potters, but an equalizer did not arrive at the City Ground.
Danny Welbeck scored in the 5th and 37th minutes, but Arsenal’s neighbors pulled one back with the goal of the afternoon via Alan Judge. Alexandre Lacazette scored late to complete the score line.
League Cup fourth round qualifiers
West Ham United
Everton -or- Southampton (Oct. 2)
Out Dan Agyei (Blackpool) Loan
Tom Anderson (Doncaster Rovers) Loan
Jimmy Dunne (Accrington Stanley) Loan
Harry Flowers (Guiseley) Undisclosed
Josh Ginnelly (Tranmere Rovers) Loan
Luke Hendrie (Shrewsbury Town) Undisclosed
Alex Whitmore (Chesterfield) Undisclosed
In Ross Barkley (Everton) Undisclosed
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) Undisclosed Emerson Palmieri (Roma) Undisclosed
Jack Boyle (Clyde) Loan
Dylan Cogill (Clyde) LoanFraser Horsfall (Kidderminster Harriers) Undisclosed
Danny Kane (Cork City) Undisclosed Joe Lolley (Nottingham Forest) Undisclosed
Jack Payne (Blackburn Rovers) Loan Ryan Schofield (AFC Telford) Loan
Tadhg Ryan (Released)
Cedwyn Scott (Dundee) Undisclosed
Out James Wilson (Sheffield United) Loan
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Arsenal) Swap
Alex Tuanzebe (Aston Villa) Loan
Matty Willock (St Johnstone) Loan
Charlie Scott (Hamilton Academical) Loan
Demi Mitchell (Hearts) Loan
Martin Dubravka (Sparta Prague) Loan
Kenedy (Chelsea) Loan Islam Slimani (Leicester City) Loan