Saturday, 10 February 2018

Watford Game Crucial to Relegation Battle

In midweek David Moyes made the totally not-shocking revelation that 40 points is our target for Premiership safety. A quick glance at our remaining dozen games reveals that today's clash with Watford is therefore pretty crucial. With seven home games to come, we need another four wins (a simple logic dictates that if you get ten wins, the draws will sort themselves out!) but with five of our games against top six sides, we need to look to win four of the other seven games. With that in mind, Watford today is a massive game, If we win, we keep them in the relegation battle and take the pressure off ourselves. If we lose, we are right back into the mess as one of nine clubs that could realistically go down.

The good news is that our injury crisis is settling. Reid, Antonio and Arnautovic are all on the verge of returning and may all get to feature in some way today. Meanwhile, Joao Mario will continue with the Lanzini role while new recruit Patrice Evra looks likely to also join the bench. While many commentators (myself included) think Evra is past it, one observer made the interesting point that Stuart Pierce was 37 when he joined us and made Hammer of the year! Time will tell.

Up front, Chicharito is looking sharp again while we can throw on Jordan Hugill if we need a bit more physical presence. The Premiership is a big step up for the former Preston ace, but fingers crossed he could be another Dean Ashton in the making. Watford, meanwhile, are looking reasonably healthy and will be buoyant after thrashing Chelsea at the beginning of the week! Interestingly, they are not really a momentum side and have struggled to piece together any back to back wins all season.

All of this is happening against the backdrop of considerable fan unrest which is increasingly channelled through the Real West Ham Supporters Club. These are interesting times at the club as our efforts to deliver upon the dream of top six status in return for moving to the OS have stalled. Fans want the stadium to be made more football-friendly and also want a more effective transfer management policy. David Sullivan has moved to calm things with an interview on the club's website today but with a march planned for March 10th ahead of the Burnley game - another key fixture in our battle to ensure Premiership survival. Realistically, the board are unlikely to stand down but it would be good if these developments could be channelled into improving the club's fortunes. Time will tell.

We reckon we might just shade it today, 2-1. Paul Merson agrees, while Mystic Mark reckons it'll be a draw which would be a better result for the Hornets than us.

Predicted Starting XI: Adrian, Byram, Collins, Ogbonna, Rice, Cresswell, Zabaleta, Kouyate, Noble, Mario, Hernandez.

Arnie and Antonio to come off the bench as we push for a late winner...

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