Watford 1-4 West Ham United: Hammers knock Hornets out of the top half 
(Photo: Getty Images - Henry Browne)

Watford 1-4 West Ham United: Hammers knock Hornets out of the top half 

West Ham managed to clinch upper half finish on the last matchday of the season.

Alan Rzepa
watford-fcFoster; Femenia, Cathcart, Kabasele (Mariappa 78'), Holebas; Hughes (Masina 67'), Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra; Deeney, Deulofeu (Gray 59').
West HamFabianski; Fredericks (Zabaleta 27'), Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Rice (Sanchez 79'), Noble (C), Lanzini (Wilshere 66'); Anderson, Antonio, Arnautovic.
SCORE0-1, MIN. 15, NOBLE. 0-2, MIN. 39, LANZINI. 1-2, MIN. 46, DEULOFEU. 1-3, MIN. 71, ARNAUTOVIC. 1-4, MIN. 78, NOBLE.

  West Ham had to beat Watford today, as well as chance their luck as Chelsea had to beat Leicester in order for the Hammers to finish ninth in their 2018/19 Premier League campaign.

Meanwhile, all three points would have allowed the Hornets to finish eighth if Leicester and Everton both lost their respective matches.

Mark Noble and Manuel Lanzini put West Ham into a comfortable two-goal lead inside the first half. In the second half, Gerard Deulofeu scored the equalizer but it wasn't enough as Marko Arnautovic and Noble added two goals to set the scoreline.

Story of the game

From the start the game was looking very lively as Watford started their offensive very early.

After 30 seconds Deulofeu was through on goal but slight margins ruled his opportunity out for offside.

The hosts continued to compile the pressure on their opposition but managed to waste every chance they've created.

After five minutes Kiko Femenia skipped brilliantly past few of West Ham's players as his shot was blocked by Fabian Balbuena.

The deflected ball found his way back to Abdoulaye Doucoure, but his shot was also blocked by Balbuena.

And then completely against the run of play after a good one-two in the middle of the pitch with Michail Antonio, Noble pulled off a brilliant solo goal to put West Ham ahead.

But the goal didn't change anything in how the game was played, but returned to Watford pressing and being unable to successfully break Hammers' defence.

Roberto Pereyra, Will Hughes and Doucoure had the chance to equalize, but their efforts were yet again unsuccessful as Issa Diop and Łukasz Fabiański dealt with them very well.

And all these wasted opportunities cost them another goal from yet another break.

Manuel Lanzini scored his first goal of the season with a simple tap-in Antonio got the ball 20-yards out, got past Christian Kabasele and Craig Cathcart and smashed it towards the top corner only for Ben Foster to make an extraordinary save and tip it onto the crossbar, but unfortunately it deflected straight into the path of Lanzini.

And as the first half started, the second one started exactly the same way. But this time it was deadly.

13 seconds into the second 45 minutes Deulofeu intercepted a back pass from substitute Pablo Zabaleta, smartly flicks the ball around Fabiański and taps it into the back of the net.

The action-filled start of the half only was warming up with the goal, as just two minutes later Jose Holebas was sent off for a foul on a through-on-goal Antonio.

And both teams haven't shown any signs of stopping there.

On the 50th minute mark Deulofeu broke through again, laid it off to Doucoure who was against an open net six-yards-out but Felipe Anderson came in from behind him and managed to rocket the ball away for a corner kick.

As the game started to toughen up in the middle of the pitch, Zabaleta continued his awful performance, nearly giving away two cheap goals with bad clearances.

Arnautovic had the chance to regain West Ham's two-goal lead but unfortunately slipped in the crucial moment and his shot rolled towards Foster.

And only two minutes later he managed to recoup his miss as West Ham scored another tap in from a close range.

Zabaleta's cross found Anderson who smoothly struck the ball on a volley but yet again Foster tipped it onto the woodwork, but Arnautović was the first to react.

And West Ham decided that they're still going to take even more advantage out of the red card suffered by Holebas.

Noble got his second goal of the game from the spot after Antonio was fouled by stumbling Femina just inside the box.

Jack Wilshere had the chance to score his first goal for his boyhood club but his cheeky finished dribbled outside the near post.


Defensive stability

After a horrendous start to 2019 followed by Fabian Balbuena's knee injury, it looks like the Hammers finally found the setup that works brilliantly for how Manuel Pellegrini wants his side to play. Diop and the earlier mentioned Balbuena are forming a great partnership. With Angelo Ogbonna as a back-up and a potential transfer of Guillermo Maripan from Deportivo Alaves, it looks like conceding wasteful goals won't be a problem anymore.

Man Of The Match

Even though Mark Noble continued his great form, it's Michail Antonio who deserves the award. The winger was involved in three out of four West Ham' goals, and even though he didn't score any himself, he assisted Noble for his first one, won the penalty for the Skipper' second and it was his shot that rebounded to Lanzini. He is also the reason why Watford had to play with ten men since the 48th minute. Great performance, showing that he's finally back to his best.