Manuel Lanzini was again West Ham’s star player in a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Watford on Saturday.
Ghanaian international Andre Ayew came off the bench and rescued the Hammers with an equaliser, while Michail Antonio was shown a second yellow card and send off for a silly hand-ball late on.
West Ham fan Darren Chapman shares his player ratings and opinion on his side’s frustrating visit to Vicarage Road…
Slaven Bilic named an unchanged West Ham XI to face Watford, Andy Carroll was still missing with what seems a mysterious injury. The Hammers missed the big man up front as they were left frustrated with just a point away at Watford.
The last time these two sides faced each other was in September at the London Stadium, a match in which Watford striker Troy Deeney accused the Hammers of “showboating” after West Ham strolled into a 2-0 lead only to be pegged back 4-2.
If Troy Deeney wanted to get one up on the East London mob, he was handed an absolute gift in the second minute, his through ball towards former Hammers hitman Mario Zarate racing into the box, the Itailan was clumsily brought down by stand-in right-back Cheikou Kouyate, referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot and Deeney stepped up making no mistake from the spot to make it 1-0.
West Ham responded well and in the tenth minute, Michail Antonio fizzed a ball across the six yard box and the ball was nearly put into his own net by Watford centre half Britos. The Hammers dominated possession and again a great bit of play masterclassed by Manuel Lanzini, the ball fell to Robert Snodgrass whose shot was deflected wide for a corner.
Antonio who started as the lone striker seemed to have pulled out wide left and was causing all sorts of trouble, again flying down the wing and flashing a ball across the box, a save from Watford veteran keeper Gomes fell to Snodgrass again, but the West Ham new boy couldn’t get the ball out of his feet quick enough as Watford survived yet again.
Just minutes after the half-time break West Ham in my opinion were denied a clear penalty, Kouyate was put through only to be what seemed wrestled down to the ground by Niang. The referee pointed for a goal kick a decision which baffled Slaven Bilic and his players. Yet another decision going against the Hammers, this seems to be every other game nowadays.
An equalizer was surely on the horizon as Watford were camped in their own half. Gomes produced yet another fantastic save from Jose Fonte’s header in the 62nd minute.
Without a recognised striker on the pitch you started to get the feeling Watford were going to hold out with a one-nil win, Antonio spurned another glorious change to level, heading Cresswell’s exquisite cross wide in the 69th minute. Bilic made a switch, taking off Snodgrass and replacing him with Andre Ayew and within ten minutes he made an impact.
Ayew and the little magician Lanzini combined to send Antonio racing clear, the winger showed great power and pace as he burst clear of Kaboul into the Watford area, he smashed a shot which beat Gomes, only to canon off both posts before falling perfectly for Ayew who tapped the ball into the empty net.
Antonio who had a great game, causing problems all day for the Hornets was shown a yellow in the first half for a late tackle on another former Hammer Behrami.
His day was cut short in the 86 minute as he received his marching orders for a deliberate handball, a silly mistake from the lad which I’m sure he will kick himself for. He will now miss next Mondays home game against Chelsea.
The game swung in Watford’s favour after the sending off, a late scramble in the West Ham box caused chaos, a chance fell to Watford’s young striker Isaac Success, but luckily for the Hammers and thanks to a brave dive from keeper Darren Randolph, the Nigerian fluffed his chance and the ball bobbled out for a goal kick.
The final whistle blew in a hard fought mid-table London derby, West Ham will feel they should have come away with all three points but it’s a good result away from home. Here are my West Ham player ratings:
Darren Randolph – 7
No chance with Deeney pen, had a quiet afternoon but when called apon done his job well.
Cheikou Kouyate – 6
Gave away pen in second min for a clumsy challenge, made amends and should have had pen himself at the other end. Did ok filling in a right-back but would prefer him back in centre mid. Booked.
Jose Fonte – 7
Solid at the back, made some great tackles and nearly got himself on the score sheet.
Winston Reid – 6
A quiet day for the consistent New Zealand international.
Aaron Cresswell – 7
Got forward really well down the left flank, produced some teasing crosses just a shame there was no end project.
Mark Noble (C) – 5
Not the best game for the Hammers captain, fought hard in the midfield but didn’t create much going forward.
Pedro Obiang – 6
One of the best players in the last few games for West Ham, forced his way into a regular started for the club. Had a quiet afternoon in a packed midfield, flashes of brilliance but nothing to cause Watford to many problems.
Sofiane Feghouli – 5
Always gives his all when picked, never afraid to run at defenders and whip a ball in.
Robert Snodgrass – 6
Missed a few chances today and his set pieces weren’t spot on, gives his all though which the fans love.
Manuel Lanzini (MOTM) – 8
— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) February 25, 2017
Makes things happen whenever the ball lands at his feet, runs past people like nothing and his creativity is second to none. Had a great game and is my man of the match.
Michail Antonio – 8
Absolute power house, Up front on the wing or at right back he’s always a handful. despise the silly sending off he had a great game today and will be missed against Chelsea.
Andre Ayew (Sub on 65th min) – 7
Looked lively when he came on, few nice touches but still has a lot to do to win over the hammers fans after his record transfer from Swansea. Took his goal well.
Edimilson Fernandes ( Sub on 90th min) n/a
Came on with two minutes left replacing Lanzini, first touch got crunched but that was all.
Kouyate in my opinion is West Ham’s best defensive midfielder, with Sam Byram who is a right back sat on the bench it baffles me sometimes. Also no strikers in the starting line up, yet Calleri and Ayew also sat on the bench, seems strange to me but Slaven Bilic still has my full backing. Next up for the Hammers is league leaders Chelsea at home in next week’s Monday Night Football.
Best RB Byram on bench, best CM Kouyate at RB, Antonio is a winger playing up top and Calleri is a striker sat on the bench ?
— Darren Chapman (@darrenchapman7) February 25, 2017
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