West Ham battled to their first Premier League win in nearly a month as in-form Javier Hernandez and the returning Marko Arnautovic secured a 2-0 triumph over Watford at the London Stadium on Saturday.
Speculation this week has suggested West Ham’s faith in David Moyes has been shaken by the 3-1 loss at Brighton and Hove Albion last time out, but the club publicly backed him and his players eased matters by ending a run of three successive games without a victory.
After initially looking shaky, Moyes will have been particularly impressed with how his side responded and swiftly took charge in the first half, creating a few decent chances and seeing a Hernandez effort disallowed for offside.
The Mexico international was decisive in legitimate fashion just before half-time, though, heading in for his third goal in four Premier League appearances.
Watford became a better attacking threat out of necessity in the second half and the match opened up – Gerard Deulofeu having their best chance with a long-range free-kick which tested Adrian.
Javi Gracia’s men piled the pressure on at times, but poor defending late on allowed Arnautovic – playing for the first time since January 20 due to a hamstring injury – to wrap things up and move the Hammers on to 30 points, level with their visitors.
Buoyed by their unlikely thrashing of the champions, Watford started brightly and nearly took an early lead after eight minutes – Adrian Mariappa forcing Adrian into a smart save with a header from Jose Holebas’ cross.
But any early promise quickly vanished, as West Ham woke up.
Arnautovic dribbled past three defenders and eventually squeezed the ball through to Joao Mario, who shot at Orestis Karnezis from a tight angle with 11 minutes played.
Set-pieces appeared to be a weakness of Watford’s, though they were bailed out by Hernandez straying just offside when converting Joao Mario’s delivery in the 32nd minute.
Another Joao Mario free-kick caused trouble soon after, picking out James Collins whose header found Arnautovic, only for Karnezis to pull off a desperate save.
But Karnezis could do nothing to keep Hernandez at bay in the 38th minute, as the Mexican nodded into the bottom-right corner following Michail Antonio’s brilliant run and cross.
Watford’s need for an equaliser meant more gaps appeared in their defence, but West Ham failed to exploit them with their final pass letting them down on several occasions.
The hosts had to rely on Adrian to keep them ahead just before the hour, as the goalkeeper palmed away Deulofeu’s 30-yard free-kick.
West Ham should have finished Watford off 18 minutes from time, but Hernandez failed to square to Arnautovic after a darting run into the area and Karnezis managed to halt the striker.
But Arnautovic was presented with a chance soon after and he took full advantage to end Watford’s chances, slamming in from close range after Sebastian Prodl’s clearance ricocheted right to the attacker.
Key Opta stats:
– West Ham have gone five games without defeat at the London Stadium in all competitions for the first time (W3 D2).
– Watford are winless in their last seven Premier League away games (D1 L6), failing to score on five occasions in that run.
– Javier Hernandez has scored in three of his last four Premier League games for West Ham (3 goals), as many as he’d scored in in his opening 17 this season (4 goals).
– This was the first game the Mexican had scored in this season that the Hammers went on to win (W1 D2 L3).
– Marko Arnautovic has had a hand in 10 goals in his last nine Premier League games for West Ham (7 goals 3 assists).
The Hammers kept their first clean sheet since December (3-0 at Stoke), ending a run of eight games in which they’d conceded.