Manuel Pellegrini’s side will be determined to earn their first victory of the campaign when they take on Watford on Saturday.
West Ham emerged victorious when these two sides met at the tail end of last season – a comfortable 4-1 win at Vicarage Road – and the Hammers will be hoping for a similar outcome this time around.
The Hornets, though, are a tricky customer and will be desperate to get their first points of the season after their campaign has begun with back-to-back defeats; Brighton came to Vicarage Road and returned to the south coast with three points in comfortable style while Everton edged past Javi Gracia’s side last weekend.
Both Sebastien Haller and Felipe Anderson return for Saturday’s action after missing the trip to the Amex Stadium due to knocks sustained against Manchester City on the opening day, while captain Mark Noble has been declared fit for the first time this season.
The Hammers will be optimistic of returning to east London with all three points and here are five areas Pellegrini’s outfit can exploit against Watford on Saturday:
1. Watford’s diamond
The Hornets have a cemented style under Gracia and the Spanish boss has a persistent diamond formation he utilises. However, his stubbornness and reluctance to change makes it very predictable for opponents – something that will play into West Ham’s hands.
Watford do not operate with conventional wingers and instead play with four central midfielders in a diamond shape. With the Hammers’ attacking emphasis often coming from wide areas, there will be plentiful space to exploit.
2. Troy Deeney’s absence
Watford have been dealt a huge blow ahead of Saturday’s match with their captain Deeney ruled out for several weeks after undergoing knee surgery.
The physical presence and leadership qualities the England forward brings to Vicarage Road often causes the Irons problems; the visiting centre-back pairing should have an easier afternoon.
3. Back-four frailties
Watford endured a thoroughly successful 2018/19 campaign – reaching the final of the FA Cup while achieving an 11th-place finish – but their defence remains a weakness.
A back-four consisting of Jose Holebas, Craig Cathcart, Craig Dawson and Kiko Femenia is not the most attractive composition; surely Haller will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing these?
4. Prone to the counter-attack
Gracia’s side tend to play possession-based football and push into the final third of the pitch as much as they can – but it leaves them exposed to the counter-attack.
With the likes of Anderson, Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio at Pellegrini’s disposal, West Ham pose a serious counter-attacking threat. Brighton utilised it excellently in their 3-0 win at Vicarage Road on the opening day of the season and the Hammers will seek to emulate that success on Saturday.
5. Lively Lanzini
Lanzini was sparkling against the Seagulls on the south coast – providing an excellent assist for Javier Hernandez – and the 26-year-old will be relishing the prospect of the Hammers’ trip to Vicarage Road.
The Argentina playmaker was on the scoresheet in this fixture in May and with his confidence beaming, we can expect Lanzini to be on top form once again.