Watford and West Ham United go head-to-head at Vicarage Road in their last Premier League fixture of 2021 on Tuesday.
This will be the Hornets’ first Premier League match since December 10, following a run of three postponed league games due to rising COVID-19 cases in Claudio Ranieri’s squad.
After a host of first-team players completed isolation, Watford are ready to go again, although the effects of the inactive period remain uncertain.
Under-pressure manager Rainieri has had plenty of time to rally his troops and find the formula to dig his underperforming side out of trouble following a run of four straight Premier League defeats.
Coming into this matchday, the hosts hold a fragile one-point lead over 18th-placed Burnley despite playing one game more than the Clarets.
In the meantime, West Ham cannot catch a break since the Premier League returned to action on the back of November’s international break, picking up just one win from seven league matches since (D2, L4).
A 3-2 home defeat at the hands of 14th-placed Southampton on Boxing Day made it two Premier League losses in a row as the Hammers look to be sinking without a trace.
They welcomed November’s international break in the top-four comforts, but they are now languishing in sixth place, seven points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal.
Watford vs West Ham United
West Ham have racked up four victories in their last five Premier League meetings with Watford (L1), more than they managed in their previous nine against them in the competition (W3, D2, L4).
The Hammers have netted ten goals in their last three top-flight encounters against the Vicarage Road outfit (W3) after scoring just nine in their previous nine such H2Hs beforehand (W2, D2, L5).
After winning their last two Premier League visits to Watford by 3+ goals ‘to one,’ West Ham could make it three consecutive triumphs at Vicarage Road for the first time in the competition’s history.
Barring a 1-1 draw with fellow relegation strugglers Newcastle United in September, none of Watford’s seven Premier League home games this season have ended level (W2, L5).
The Hornets have lost their last two Premier League matches at Vicarage Road after conceding the opening goal within 30 minutes of play.
As a result, they stare at the prospect of losing three consecutive top-flight matches on home soil across a single league campaign for the first time since 1987/88.
It’s also worth mentioning that Ranieri’s men have conceded first in a league second-high 13 out of their 16 Premier League fixtures this season, going on to lose 11 such contests (W1, D1).
Emmanuel Dennis has been a rare shining light at Watford this season, with the Nigerian forward clocking up five goals and four assists in his last seven Premier League appearances.
West Ham United Preview
They may have snapped a run of two straight Premier League matches without scoring last time out, but a home defeat to Southampton on Boxing Day means they are now winless in three league games (D1, L2).
Additionally, the Hammers have lost three of their last four Premier League away fixtures (D1), as many reverses as they suffered in their previous 17 league travels combined (W10, D4, L3).
David Moyes’ men fell to a 2-1 home defeat to the league newcomers Brentford earlier this season after going unbeaten in 11 of their 12 Premier League meetings with newly-promoted sides beforehand (W7, D4).
On the bright side, star striker Michail Antonio found the net against Southampton on Sunday after joining the fray as a second-half substitute.
West Ham’s top-scorer in the Premier League this season, with seven goals to his name, had gone eight successive top-flight appearances without scoring beforehand.
Watford vs West Ham United
Watford (4-2-3-1: Daniel Bachmann; Kiko Femenia, William Troost-Ekong, Craig Cathcart, Danny Rose; Moussa Sissoko, Juraj Kucka; Joao Pedro, Tom Cleverley, Joshua King; Emmanuel Dennis.
West Ham United (4-2-3-1): Lucasz Fabianski; Vladimir Coufal, Craig Dawson, Issa Diop, Ben Johnson; Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek; Jarrod Bowen, Manuel Lanzini, Said Benrahma; Michail Antonio.
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