Wins for Bournemouth and Aston Villa on Sunday means that tonight’s clash at the Olympic Stadium (20:00) in the Premier League has now become the most important game of the season for West Ham and Watford. A win for either and football in the top flight is almost secure for another campaign.
The most fascinating aspect ahead of this game is that both teams are on the back of crucial wins with Watford having won their last two. Those two victories ended a five games barren spell for the Hornets but, while confidence is sure to be high, they’re still without an away triumph since early January. That’s seven games on the road that Nigel Pearson’s side have failed to get a win, six of which have ended in defeat.
What’s kept West Ham afloat this season has been their improved away form and last Saturday’s 4-0 thumping of Norwich City at Carrow Road was proof of that. They did beat Chelsea 3-2 on home soil earlier this month but that was only their fifth win at the Olympic Stadium this season. Just nine days ago they slumped at home to Burnley, so that wouldn’t fill the Hammers faithful with confidence ahead of this must-win fixture.
This particular match-up has been hard to call in recent seasons too, with the last three head-to-heads going the way of the away team. That will give Watford hope, particularly as they won at the Olympic Stadium last season, but their away form this season just might see them struggle. In recent weeks, West Ham have shown that they have the belief in their squad to avoid the drop and it’s that upbeat spirit which might just see them through here. So, it’s a Hammers win, but only just.
It was a surprise that West Ham didn’t find the net in their last home game against Burnley as they’d looked impressive going forward against both Chelsea and Newcastle prior to that. In 13 of their 17 home games this season they’ve managed to score and, in 8 of those 13 games, they’ve scored two or more goals.
That makes it quite likely that they’ll be gunning for more goals here and, having found the net more than once in three of their last four games, you’d have to fancy them doing so again. Over 1.5 West Ham goals looks likely to happen.
When looking for a goalscorer on Friday night, Michail Antonio is undoubtedly going to be the obvious pick and for a number of reasons, too.
Not only did he bag a fantastic four goals at Carrow Road on Saturday but, in the last four games when West Ham have scored, he’s been on the mark every single time. So where else is there to look for a Hammers hitman?
Tomas Soucek was the man to pull West Ham level against Chelsea when it looked as though David Moyes’ men might be in for a beating 16 days ago. That spurred on his side for a miraculous victory and then, four days later, he got the second of the Hammers’ goals at St James’ Park.
Not only that but he’s started and finished West Ham’s last six games which means he’s likely to be a part of everything that the home side create on Friday night. With those two recent goals under his belt, his first goals for the club too, the Czech Republic international is excellent value to find the target again.
Tips for West Ham v Watford
- Our Great 8/1 Treble For Saturday’s Championship Ties
- Man City Ban Exclusive: Uefa’s Secret Plot To Punish Club Anyway
- Brendan Rodgers Prepares 25 Envelopes Ahead Of Leicester V Sheff Utd Clash