West Ham relieved after huge FA Cup scare
West Ham host struggling Watford on Tuesday night but the Hammers could be left frustrated by Roy Hodgson’s new team. The Irons have been impressive this season but their form has stuttered recently and the side were lucky to avoid a monumental FA Cup upset. David Moyes‘ side were 1-0 down at National League North minnows Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday, before late goals from Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen edged West Ham through in a 2-1 extra time win.
This sluggish showing followed on from back-to-back Premier League defeats, hinting the team are vulnerable at present.
The Hammers slipped to a 3-2 home defeat against Leeds last month and were beaten 1-0 at Manchester United to leave them fifth in the table.
It is still an excellent position but their lack of spending in January and current form suggests West Ham are likely to ultimately fall short in the top-four race for Champions League football.
Hodgson faces challenge to rescue Watford
Watford sacked Claudio Ranieri after the dismal 3-0 home defeat to Norwich and Roy Hodgson has been brought in to deliver another rescue act. The former Crystal Palace manager is renowned for his ability to organise a defence and this was evident in his first game in charge, Watford’s goalless draw at fellow strugglers Burnley on Saturday night.
The Hornets have been held back by their defensive weaknesses all season but Hodgson engineered an immediate impact as his team secured their first clean sheet in the league this season. It was an encouraging start and gives him something to build on for their relegation battle. Watford climbed up to 18th in the table and will be boosted by the availability of top scorer Emmanuel Dennis after his return from suspension.
West Ham are predictably short odds for victory but there are a few concerns with lumping on them at 1.444/9. The Irons were playing much better earlier in the season and appear to be wobbling slightly midway through the season. Two defeats from their last three home league games does not inspire confidence and they can be left alone at a skinny price.
Watford are 8.4 to pull off a first win under Hodgson. Their recent record is undeniably poor though, with a nine-game winless run stretching back to November. Watford showed some progress at Burnley but it is still optimistic to back them for a win at the Irons.
The draw is the most appealing option at odds of 5.39/2.
Watford grinded out a point at Burnley and it seems likely Hodgson’s mantra will be making the team difficult to beat.
A draw at West Ham would be a positive result and it is easy to envisage the visitors setting up with an emphasis on frustrating their opponents.
Backing a low-scoring game involving Watford earlier in the season would have seemed foolish but it is realistic to expect a different outlook for the remainder of the campaign. Hodgson preaches defensive organisation and this will be critical to Watford’s chances of avoiding relegation. The early evidence at Turf Moor suggests he may be able to tighten up their defence for a successful run-in.
A first clean sheet is bound to give the Hornets’ backline, marshalled by experienced goalkeeper Ben Foster, confidence. Three of Watford’s last four league outings have produced no more than two goals and a limited attacking gameplan at West Ham can yield another low-scoring contest. The Hammers are hardly firing and could find it difficult to break down their opponents. Backing under 2.5 goals at appealing odds of 2.47/5 stands out.
In Michail Antonio’s last seven Premier League starts against Watford for West Ham he has scored a brace (Sept 2016), been sent off (Feb 2017), assisted a goal (Feb 2018), been yellow carded (Dec 2018), assisted (May 2019), scored (July 2020) and assisted (Dec 2021).
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