West Ham v Watford
The final round of Premier League ahead of Christmas kicks off and for me it’s one last trip to the London Stadium in 2018 to watch West Ham try and make it five wins in a row against Watford.
All I want for Christmas is three points, simple as. West Ham are a side brewing in confidence ahead of this game, which sees West Ham in ninth place and Watford in tenth separated only by goal difference, so a close game could be on the cards.
In my eyes West Ham’s recent turn in fortune which has seen a return of maximum points in December will make them favourites here, but I predict a close encounter. Watford are coming into this game off the back of a home win against Cardiff and an away draw against Everton where they were desperately unlucky not to win the game having lead 1-2 in the 95th minute of the game.
Watford are a weird side, they don’t have any game changers as such but they have a strong presence of players who offer something different. Troy Deeney is a proper old fashioned strong centre forward (He also loves a goal against West Ham) in the middle of the field you have Gerard Deulofeo who offers pace and quick skilful legs to get into the box as well as Doucoure who is a huge midfield player, something I think West Ham desperately lack.
I predict a really close game but I think West Ham will come out on top. I also think both teams will score. Troy Deeney to score for the visitors and Chicharito to score for West Ham before Andy Carroll comes off the bench to score the winner. West Ham 2-1 Watford.
FT West Ham 0-2 Watford
Having travelled back to Essex the night before the game for Christmas it was a return to my old pre match routine before the London move. An hour long train journey from Essex before lunch and last minute Christmas shopping in Westfield ahead of heading to the game.
The whole morning and early afternoon, right up until I saw the team sheets I have to confess, my mind wasn’t really on the game at all, so there were no real feelings of anxiety, fear or even confidence to talk about.
However, once I saw the team sheets I really began to think to myself, ‘Okay, perhaps this game will be a tricky one.’ I was in the Stadium around 30 minutes before kick off, took to my seat and watched the teams warm up, I still didn’t really know what to expect, I think I knew it could be a bit of a bore fest of a game of football, but only time would tell.
It was a pretty slow start from both sides to be honest. It had all of the aspects of a match that would make anyone think that the first goal would be hugely important. For that reason I would always get nervous when Watford were on the attack and equally excited when West Ham were on the attack and that juxtaposition is something I have become very used to after 17 years of watching West Ham.
One thing was for sure, there was very little time where I was having a neutral emotional response in the early exchanges.
30 minutes – Goal! West Ham 0 – 1 Watford, Troy Deeney (Penalty)
As I said, the guy loves a goal against West Ham. I have no arguments about the decision to award the penalty, as soon as Balbuena went in for the challenge I expected the ref to make the decision so there was no feelings of anger around that.
After a lengthy delay due to Balbuena injuring himself making the challenge Deeney took the penalty and lashed it into the back of the net.
What followed is what caused some serious anger and brewing hatred inside of me.
The way in which Deeney celebrated his goal was as if we were bitter rivals or that he once played for West Ham and the fans were giving him constant abuse up until the goal which was quite simply not the case. Running to the corner with his hands behind his ears practically asking the fans to send boos his way before reacting badly to what he was orchestrating and smacking the corner flag out into the air and appearing to attempt to start a fight with any West Ham fans in that area of the stadium.
I get that some players are those type of people that like to wind up the opposing crowd and to be honest I think if I were a professional footballer that would be a part of my game, I just wouldn’t be such an arse about it.
Remainder of the first half.
For the remainder of the half West Ham created chances but nothing that would be described as clear cut. One stand out moment is a free kick that was awarded to West Ham on the edge of the Watford penalty area. One of the most basic rules in football is that a wall of players can be set up a minimum of ten yards away from where the free kick was rewarded. However, referee Lee Mason decided to fly walk 7 yards before applying his spray to the floor marking where Watford could set up their wall.
Unsurprisingly the free kick hit the wall and Watford cleared their lines. Such an incident wouldn’t bother me, but the gross incompetence shown by Lee Mason goes against the rules of the game and it just infuriates me to no end. For that reason alone my anger levels went even higher.
Halfway through the game West Ham were trailing 0-1 courtesy of Troy Deeney’s converted spot kick. I’m never one to boo players or officials off of the field of play at half time but I just felt I had to. It was the only way I felt that I could exert the anger created by their actions in Deeney and ref Lee Mason, luckily they were walking off the pitch next to each other and I wasn’t the only one exerting their anger in this way.
The first half from West Ham quite simply wasn’t good enough, in a way I think West Ham were lucky to only be one goal behind, meaning an equaliser could swiftly switch the momentum which is what the hammers needing. After a toilet break and buying a bottle of water I was ready for the second half and hopeful West Ham could turn the game around.
To say West Ham had chances in the early parts of the second half is the least you could say. To say that West Ham couldn’t capsize on the opportunities is the absolute least you could say.
I’m talking about hitting the cross bar twice, forcing saves from Watford keeper Ben Foster, missing an open goal, Javier Hernandez missing opportunities you would normally expect Javier Hernandez to score, the list goes on!
For me personally I was constantly going through that exhilarating feeling of thinking we’d scored, because on so many occasions the hard part was done, all that was needed was the touch into the back of the net, only to come crashing down when the reality hit that West Ham hadn’t scored.
It was a constant repeat of this feeling throughout the second half. Ever the optimist I just thought that surely one of them would go in, surely!
87 minutes – Goal! West Ham 0 – 2 Watford, Gerard Deulofeu.
As is so often the case when piling men forward to try and claim an equaliser, the team gets caught on the counter and the deficit is increased to 0-2.
Frustration. I wasn’t so much feeling angry, I feel like my daily usage of anger was used in the first half, but the frustration was real. The only thing that sprung to mind while Watford were celebrating their second is that I have seen that situation happen so many times in the past that sometimes you just have to accept that when it’s not your day, it’s not your day. Which is what I think this game was.
However, where I sit in the London Stadium is very close to the away dugout and Deeney, who had been subbed shortly before Watford doubled their lead, took control of the Watford celebrations by turning to the West Ham fans and winding the up one last time. Karma, you could call it for booing him off the field of play at half-time. When this happened their was a tiny smidge of anger.
All I can do is what goes around comes around and when West Ham travel to play Watford at Vicarage Road it is a successful visit and Deeney won’t be in a situation to cause me and the other West Ham fans more aggro.
Sadly, the winning streak is over. All good things come to an end. We can only pick ourselves up, enjoy Christmas and watch West Ham go again on Thursday against Southampton which won’t be an easy game.
Initially I was pretty disappointed to lose, but its a simple case of if you don’t take your chances you won’t win the game, which is what happened against Watford.
Nothing else to really say, when it’s not your day, it’s not your day. 12 points from a possible 15 is still a cracking return and West Ham are still sitting comfortably in the mid table positions and it’s all very congested so anything can happen.
Next up for West Ham in the remainder of the calendar year are back to back away games against Southampton and Burnley, two games I won’t be going to.
My next game is on 2nd of January against Brighton where I will be bringing the positivity I want to carry into 2019 with me to The London Stadium!
Merry Christmas all!