West Ham show attacking class as they are too good for Watford
PUBLISHED: 12:30 26 August 2019
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Hammers grab first win thanks to Haller double
West Ham grabbed their first win of the season at Watford on Saturday and it was skipper Mark Noble, club record signing Sebastien Haller and sub Michail Antonio that proved instrumental.
It was far from a perfect performance and in reality this match could have gone either way, especially if Will Hughes had not missed an absolute sitter, but in the end West Ham collected the points and that was all that mattered.
"I always say, as a manager, the most important thing is to win," said delighted boss Manuel Pellegrini after the 3-1 win.
"There are different ways to win. I think maybe Watford fans will not be so happy, but both sets of fans came here and saw a good show, a good game of football for everyone, and those are the sort of games that bring more people to the stadiums."
He's right. Watford fans will not be happy. They had 20 shots off target and constantly ripped the West Ham defence apart, but it was the likes of Manuel Lanzini and Felipe Anderson who were pulling the strings and the Hammers were clinical.
In the first half, Lanzini won a penalty and that man Noble sent Ben Foster the wrong way to give them the lead inside four minutes.
But West Ham's defence is still fragile and when Andre Gray slipped away from the static Arthur Masuaku it was all square.
"It was a really entertaining game," Pellegrini said. "Both teams, especially in the first 25 minutes, were very open in both boxes."
They certainly were. The Hammers have to sort out their defence, but on this day their attack was the winner.
West Ham had already hit the post through Anderson and seen a Haller shot palmed away in the first half, but it was the introduction of Michail Antonio that was pivotal.
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He could have had a hat-trick, every time being denied by Foster, but it was his pace and purpose and his support for Haller up front that was crucial.
Ater making five changes after the thrashing by Manchester City on the opening day, Pellegrini made four more for this game and they all worked.
The influence of Noble certainly impressed the boss.
"Mark is a very important player for us," he said. "Unfortunately for him, he had that calf injury and he needed three weeks to work.
"He returned and my first idea was not for us to play 90 minutes with him. I was asking him and he was telling me that he was okay."
The evergreen midfield man stepped back in like he had never been away, while the big investment in Haller is already paying off.
"It was two very important goals for Haller too," said the boss. "It's not easy when you come from another league and you start working here and playing here. It's different between the leagues.
"He had just one start in the Premier League; a difficult game against Manchester City, and then he had a problem with his knee.
"He returned because he worked during the whole week and I saw he was in perfect shape. For a striker, the most important thing is to score."
It certainly is and for the whole team the most important thing is the victory.
West Ham have started better than they did last season and now they must push on into the upper echelons of the Premier League.
The players are capable of it and the fans expect it.