West Ham were made to rue their missed opportunities as they were beaten 2-0 by Watford at the London Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The game began as an even affair, with both sides having their fair share of possession and chances. However the visitors were gifted a golden opportunity on the half-hour mark. Roberto Pereyra was brought down in the box by Fabian Balbuena after some neat build up play, with Lee Mason pointing to the penalty spot.
West Ham responded well to going behind and nearly got back on level terms on the stroke of half time. However Ben Foster did brilliantly to get down and deny Javier Hernandez at his far corner.
The hosts came out for the second half firing as they went in search of an equaliser but were left frustrated after squandering chance after chance. They had a golden opportunity with five minutes remaining after Robert Snodgrass got his head on the end of a Grady Diangana cross, his header was saved by Foster with Michail Antonio heading the rebound onto the crossbar.
They were soon made to pay for their missed chances as Gerard Deulofeu played a neat one-two with Roberto Pereyra, with the former tucking the ball into the bottom corner to wrap up the win for the Hornets.
Here's our breakdown of this one.
Key Talking Point
It just wasn't meant to be for Manuel Pellegrini's men today. They made a promising start and looked to be competing well against a strong Watford side. Unfortunately they fell behind after a mistake at the back and they were left chasing the game after that.
They did had a number of golden opportunities falling to players you'd want them to fall too. However, the likes of Hernandez and Antonio just couldn't find a way past Foster and they were ultimately made to pay for their lack of a clinical edge in front of goal.
It was uncharacteristic of a side who had scored 11 goals in their previous four Premier League games coming into the clash, as they just couldn't break Watford down.
Starting XI: Fabianski (6); Zabaleta (6), Balbuena (5), Diop (5), Masuaku (6); Snodgrass (7), Noble (6), Rice (6), Anderson (6); Antonio (6), Hernandez (5).
Substitutes: Ogbonna (6), Carrol (6), Diangana (6).
STAR MAN - He's been their best performer in recent weeks and whilst he couldn't inspire his team to a win, Snodgrass was the Hammers' best performer on the day.
He kept things neat and tidy in the middle of the park and even had a few chances for himself, however couldn't get the decisive equalising goal his team were in desperate need of. Regardless, he can at least hold his head up high after putting in a solid shift.
WORST PLAYER - It just wasn't meant to be for Hernandez on the day. He had a number of great chances which you'd expect him to put away with ease, and on any other day he most likely would've done.
Drop Chicharito next week and start Carroll— West Hammers (@OnlyOneLanzini) December 22, 2018
However today he was denied by Foster on a number of occasions and was left frustrated after being subbed off with 15 minutes remaining with his side searching for a late equaliser. An afternoon he'll certainly want to forget in a hurry.
Key Talking Point
The London Stadium has proven to be a tough place to come for away sides this season, but Watford showed no fear today. They weathered an early storm from the hosts and got their noses in front on the half hour mark, after that it was about remaining stern in defender and they certainly were.
With a lot of help from the man between the sticks, Watford were able to somehow tame the Hammers' onslaught in the second half as they searched for an equaliser in what was an outstanding defensive display.
They were clinical when they had to be as Deulofeu put the game to bed with five minutes left, and Javi Gracia will be delighted with his side's performance.
Starting XI: Foster (8); Femenia (6), Kabasele (7), Cathcart (6), Holebas (7); Sema (6), Doucoure (7), Capoue (7), Pereyra (7); Deulofeu (8), Deeney (7).
Substitutes: Cleverley (), Success ().
STAR MAN - He's been their saviour on a number of occasions this season, and Foster proved to be exactly that on the day. He dealt with everything which came his way and produced a number of brilliant saves when it really mattered to keep his side ahead.
Thank god for Ben Foster #watfordfc world class save that won us that game truly sensational — Rich (@Richwfc2) December 22, 2018
@BenFoster hey Ben, can I take you for dinner any chance?— Frankie (@FrankieHolliday) December 22, 2018
This included a late save from close range from a Snodgrass header, with his team going up the other end and securing the win with a decisive second goal just seconds later. It proved to be a game-saving save and he certainly was the best performer on the pitch.
WORST PLAYER - He didn't necessarily have a bad game, but Kiko Femenia had a fairly quiet game at right back.
He and his side came under heavy pressure in the second half as the hosts push for an equaliser, although there wasn't much of a threat posed down the right for him to deal with.
He'll be delighted with the clean sheet and the three points, however he won't look back on the day with great memories of a stellar performance.
The Hammers will look to pick themselves up and dust themselves off as they now prepare to travel to the south coast and face Southampton at St Mary's Stadium on Thursday 27 December, while Watford will be looking to carry their winning momentum forward as they get set to host Chelsea on Boxing Day evening.
Source : 90min