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West Ham United vs Watford: 22/12/2018 – match preview and predicted starting XIs

West Ham United vs Watford

Date: 22/12/2018

K/O: 15:00

Venue: London Stadium

Referee: Lee Mason

West Ham will be looking to carry on their winning run when they take on Watford this Saturday, having seen themselves rise up the league into the top half for the first time this season.

This rise of the Hammers came after their 2-0 victory against Fulham thanks to goals from Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio. The recovery the Hammers have shown since they lost their first four games of the season has exemplified that it takes time for a team to gel properly under a new manager.

Watford however, since the start of the season, when they were flying at the top of the table, have started to fall off. The Hornets are now placed 10th, just behind the Hammers, and will be looking to get their season back on track, which they may have started to do following their game last week, defeating Cardiff 3-2.

Watford will also be looking for revenge as West Ham beat them 2-0 last time they met at the London Stadium. The home side however will be without one of the goal-scorers from that match, Marko Arnautovic.

Team News

Manuel Pellegrini will likely keep the same winning formula and not make any changes to his starting line-up. Players such as Robert Snodgrass and Felipe Anderson have been in fantastic form for the Hammers in recent weeks. Snodgrass most of all – the Scot has two goals and three assists in his last four games and is a potential contender for player of the month. Anderson however, is now the club’s top scorer this season with six goals and is starting to show that he was worth the £42 million the club paid for him.

Injury-wise West Ham will continue without Manuel Lanzini, Andriy Yarmolenko, Marko Arnautovic, Jack Wilshere and Winston Reid. Arnautovic though, Pellegrini has confirmed, will be back training with the team next week. The return of the Austrian will be a big boost for the Hammers but he could struggle to get straight back in to the team if the Hammers keep up their winning run.

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Javi Gracia could look to stick with Domingos Quina in the starting line-up after he impressed last week against Cardiff, scoring the wining goal. Quina would be returning to West Ham, where he left in the summer, so he will be keen to show them that they were wrong to let him go.

Gracia may be able to recall Will Hughes to the squad as he recovers from a knock that kept him out last weekend. Andre Gray remains out injured with a leg injury, which will leave Gerard Deulofeu partnering Troy Deeney upfront. Tom Cleverly is the only other injury of note. The Englishman has been out with an Achilles injury, which will keep him out until next July.

Predicted Starting XIs

West Ham United (4-4-2): Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Snodgrass, Rice, Noble, Anderson; Antonio, Hernandez.

Watford (4-2-2-2): Foster; Femenia, Kabasele, Cathcart, Holebas; Doucoure, Quina; Sema, Pereyra, Deulofeu, Deeney.

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Score Prediction: West Ham United 2 Watford 2

West Ham are on a great run of form at the moment and are being very clinical in front of goal. The Hammers will be expecting to score in this game against a Watford defence that has not kept a clean sheet since their 3-0 victory over Huddersfield. The midfield of the Hammers has gone from a problem area to a strength. This is due to the fluid formation change from a 4-4-2 without the ball, to a 4-2-4 with the ball making them hard to break down and dangerous going forward.

Watford will be a danger however, especially with Deeney and Deulofeu as they will cause problems for the West Ham defenders with their pace and power. The game is set to be a very even contest and could go either way on the day.

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Premier League Table

# Team MP W D L P
1 Liverpool 17 16 1 0 49
2 Leicester City 17 12 3 2 39
3 Manchester City 17 11 2 4 35
4 Chelsea 17 9 2 6 29
5 Tottenham Hotspur 17 7 5 5 26
6 Manchester United 17 6 7 4 25
7 Sheffield United 17 6 7 4 25
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 17 5 9 3 24
9 Arsenal 17 5 7 5 22
10 Crystal Palace 16 6 4 6 22
11 Newcastle United 17 6 4 7 22
12 Burnley 17 6 3 8 21
13 Brighton & Hov… 16 5 4 7 19
14 AFC Bournemouth 17 5 4 8 19
15 West Ham United 17 5 4 8 19
16 Everton 17 5 3 9 18
17 Aston Villa 17 4 3 10 15
18 Southampton 17 4 3 10 15
19 Norwich City 17 3 3 11 12
20 Watford 17 1 6 10 9

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