Match report and free highlights as Kurt Zouma played the full 90 minutes in West Ham's win over Watford; Jarrod Bowen struck a deflected winner on 64 minutes
Wednesday 9 February 2022 06:27, UK
Jarrod Bowen's deflected winner plunged Watford deeper into relegation trouble as Kurt Zouma played in a 1-0 win for West Ham.
Zouma's shocking cat-attack video did not impact the decision to start the West Ham defender because "he is one of our better players", said manager David Moyes. Zouma was condemned by his club, the RSPCA and other animal welfare groups after a disturbing video emerged of him hitting, dropping, and kicking his pet across his kitchen floor on Monday.
Bowen netted the winner for the Hammers on 68 minutes when his speculative effort from range deflected past a helpless Ben Foster. It was tough on Watford, who looked set for a second clean sheet in a row under Roy Hodgson in a much improved defensive showing.
The result lifts West Ham back into the top four while Watford stay in the bottom three.
West Ham: Fabianski (7), Coufal (7), Zouma (7), Dawson (6), Cresswell (7), Soucek (7), Rice (7), Bowen (7), Fornals (6), Benrahma (6), Antonio (6)
Subs: Lanzini (6)
Watford: Foster (7), Femenia (6), Samir (7), Cathcart (6), Kamara (8), Kayembe (7), Kucka (7), Sissoko (6), Cleverley (6), Dennis (6), King (6)
Subs: Ngakia (6), Joao Pedro (6), Louza (6)
Man of the match: Hassane Kamara
A reaction was expected from West Ham after their dismal performance at Kidderminster in the FA Cup but it was not forthcoming in the early stages. The first shot on goal of any kind came from Watford man Juraj Kucka, who headed wide from eight yards out. The Hammers continued to plod their way through the half but did create one golden opening, sparked by a silky bit of play by Jarrod Bowen.
He found Said Benrahma inside the box but his first effort was blocked by Ben Foster before he slammed the rebound against the post.
West Ham continued to stutter after the break with Watford looking comfortable. Benrahma flashed a half-chance over the crossbar as Samir's strength was nullifying the hold-up play of Michail Antonio.
The home fans were becoming restless, but Bowen dragged his side out of a sticky situation. His effort from 25 yards was not hit with much force but a slight nick off Samir sent the ball agonisingly beyond the reach of Foster.
Watford responded and their best chance to equalise fell to Tom Cleverley, who was teed up after a fantastic run and pass by Joshua King but he blazed his effort over the crossbar.
Bowen almost doubled the advantage with six minutes remaining as West Ham sensed a second but his effort was tipped onto the post by Foster. Watford had nothing more to give and despite signs of improvement, face an uphill battle to stay in the Premier League.
Sky Sports' Lewis Jones:
Let's be clear, Watford didn't do enough to beat West Ham. But such was their defensive solidarity at the London Stadium, they didn't deserve to lose either. "The game was evenly poised before the goal," Roy Hodgson said. He was right.
Watford looked a different animal in their shape to most of their fixtures this season. The work Hodgson is doing on the training pitch is making a difference. Like at Burnley, Watford defended as a unit, worked hard and didn't make mistakes. West Ham only created an expected goals figure of 1.06 and posted just three shots on target.
Hodgson needs some confidence to return with his front players to start turning promise into results. Maybe the return of Ismaila Sarr will help in that regard. He's likely to play against Brighton on Saturday. But time is running out, especially with Newcastle posting back-to-back victories.
There might not be much of him, he stands at just 5′6″ in height, but what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in enthusiasm and a willingness to defend properly - something that Watford haven't done all season. His signing from Nice looks a shrewd bit of business on this display. Not many full-backs have managed to cope with the pace and trickery of Bowen this season in the style that Kamara managed. He didn't deserve to be on the losing side.
West Ham boss David Moyes said: "I think at different times in the season we've had players stand up and be counted. Micky Antonio in the early part of the season was terrific - his goals, his performances. When we need somebody else, Jarrod's been really good and as everybody knows, Declan's been in scintillating form for most parts of the season. Everybody needs a player to step up and Jarrod's been the one who's doing that recently."
Roy Hodgson says he was not surprised to see Kurt Zouma start for West Ham despite the social media video that emerged just a day before Watford's visit to the London Stadium.
"I never concern myself with those things, that's not my business," insisted Hodgson. "That's the business of the club.
"I didn't expect him not to play, he's one of their better players and it's something the club has to deal with."
Hodgson was more concerned with the "unfortunate" winner scored by Bowen that saw his side slip to their first defeat under the former England boss.
"It's unfortunate to concede a goal like that. I think the game was evenly poised," added Hodgson.
"But when they got the goal it improved their confidence and their composure grew. But if we'd been lucky we might have still got an equaliser."
West Ham are back in action on Sunday when they face Leicester at the King Power Stadium, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 4.30pm.
Meanwhile, Watford host Brighton at Vicarage Road on Saturday; kick-off 3pm.