A mid-table ding-dong
It has been raining goals at the London Stadium of late.
After a slow start to the campaign, the bubbles are flying high in East London. The Hammers have won four games on the trot for the first time since 2014 to assume a top half place and sit just two points adrift of 6th.
You won’t the fans getting carried away too much though; the West Ham faithful expect the worst of their side more often than not and are never too surprised to see things start to go wrong. With that in mind, we won’t risk tipping a home win on this occasion.
What can’t be ruled out though is goals. The Hammers have been hitting the back of the net at will recently, scoring 11 in their last 4, a streak equalled only by league leaders Liverpool.
Record signing Felipe Anderson, the rejuvenated figure of Javier Hernadez and Robert Snodgrass, a player reborn under Pellegrini, have all stepped up in the absence of Arnautovic, the main man when fit.
‘Snods’ and Anderson especially, will be looking maintain their fine form when Watford visit. The latter has been involved in more Premier League goals than any other West Ham player (6 goals, 2 assists), stats bettered only by Salah, Hazard and Sterling in the Premier League.
They’ll be no shortage of attacking flair in the away dressing room either. Watford, one place below their hosts but level in terms of points, held their own goal of the month competition at home to Cardiff last weekend, with three sublime individual strikes.
Man-of-the-match Gerard Deulofeu reminded us of his qualities with a mazy, solo effort for the game’s opener and was generally at the heart of everything good about the Hornets, chipping in with an assist to boot.
A battle of the purlers between Jose Holebas and former West Ham youth product Domingos Quina then played out with the ex-Hammer delighted to be finally getting his chance on the big stage. He won’t need much motivating in showing his old employers what they missed out on - you all know what happens when former players play their old team!
A superb away performance at Everton the week previous should’ve amounted to more than the point they eventually got, but the last two performances is a marked improvement on the three preceding results they were on the wrong end of.
Technically not a derby with Watford based in Hertfordshire and all, I’m still expecting a derby-like affair come Saturday afternoon with both sides confident and full of beans.
Finely balanced it will be however, points and league position suggest as much. The goals against column for both is also a pointer to how this may go - each have a soft underbelly, culminating in the 25 goals both have conceded in their 17 played. Just three clean sheets apiece also sheds light on the respective philosophies of the two coaches.
Nick’s tip: I reckon we'll get a nice serving of goals in this one - there hasn’t been less than four goals in each of West Ham’s last five home fixtures. Now, there’s a stat!
Over 2.5 @ 8/11 (1.75) is tempting but I’m sticking my neck out and going with Over 3.5 goals at cracking odds of 15/8 (2.90) with Unibet.
Best of luck!