Heurelho Gomes 7
Was called into action within minutes of kick-off, in a game which didn’t get any less enthralling thereafter, making two vital, if not assured, saves to keep out Michail Antonio and Dimitri Payet’s efforts. Opted to punch away a couple of balls into the box, which will have rattled some nerves, but always did enough to prevent any danger. Could do nothing to prevent either goal.
Craig Cathcart 5.5
A disappointing performance from the returning defender. Perhaps he was still feeling the groin strain that kept him out of the the Arsenal game and international duty. West Ham’s second goal was impressive, due to Payet’s improvised cross, but could have been prevented had Cathcart not been caught ball-watching as Antonio drifted in behind him to head into what was essentially an open goal. Had to cover at right-back for a long period after Mazzarri switched to a system with four at the back. Was booked for a foul on Simone Zaza just before half-time, but did improve in the second period when Watford dropped deeper.
Younes Kaboul 6.5
An assured performance from a defender who knows this league inside out. While his fellow defenders were diving in and scrambling left and right to keep up with Payet and Antonio, Kaboul knew when to stand off and when to make his move. One particularly impressive moment saw him stand up to the latter before darting in between the ball and the man and clearing out of play so the Hornets could reset. He knew when to play the ball out of defence and when to simply hoof it forward, preventing any potential mix ups, such as the ones we saw in the home team’s defence. Could have earned an assist with his knock down, had Stefano Okaka not been ruled marginally offside. Carried the ball well out of defence in the second half.
Miguel Britos 5.5
Struggled against the returning Payet for much of the first half but, in fairness, who wouldn’t? Thought he had forced the forward onto his left foot at one point, only for Payet to skilfully pull off a rabona cross to the far post. As if that wasn’t enough, the Uruguayan also had to deal with Antonio’s pace. Within minutes he was busting a gut to unsuccessfully attempt to keep up with the winger, before being turned inside and out and failing to block a shot at goal. Was made a fool of when the winger flicked the ball over his head and then added to his blushes moments later, taking too long to pick up the ball and being dispossessed on the edge of his own area. Like Cathcart, Britos improved when the Hornets dropped deep in the second half to reduce the threat of West Ham’s pace.
Daryl Janmaat 5.5
If his performance could be summed up by one moment, it would be the one in which he hit the post – but it was his own post. Ok, perhaps that’s harsh but it demonstrated how Janmaat is lively going forward but a liability in defence. Much has been made of his unrivalled eight tackles at the Olympic Stadium, but they don’t completely excuse him for failing to be in the correct position when another eight or so were needed. He would often run forward into the box after making a pass, rather than letting the attackers do their jobs and considering his own defensive responsibilities. He did well to get in behind Arthur Masuaku on more than one occasion and set up some good chances for the Hornets, even coming close himself once before an impressive block prevented him from finding the back of the net. But he looked more at home when moved into a right midfield role than he did at wing-back or full-back.
Jose Holebas 7
Scored his first goal since December 2014, which was incidentally in another 4-2 win, for Roma against an Inter Milan side who had recently parted ways with Walter Mazzarri. It’s a small world. Holebas was guilty of diving in too much early on but soon learned from his mistakes and was impressive both going forward and in defence. Unlike Janmaat, Holebas knew when to get back, showing incredible pace in one instance to catch up with the rapid Antonio then win possession with a perfect lunging tackle. Executed a perfect tackle on Payet and then got back to his feet to drill in a pass from Odion Ighalo. The fact he was that high up the pitch typified the ambition Watford played with.
Valon Behrami 7.5
Followed up his man-of-the-match performance for Switzerland with an equally determined display against his former club. Perhaps Behrami wanted to prove a point to his former employers, or maybe he has simply been rejuvenated by his reunion with former boss Mazzarri. After a bright but perhaps reckless start, the midfielder was spoken to by Mazzarri during an early break in play. Thereafter, Behrami sat deeper but got about the pitch just as much. Made countless interceptions and put out several fires with perceptive play. Was not afraid to get stuck in, and it was his combativeness that helped the captain get Watford back into the match as much as the goals.
Etienne Capoue 6.5
Was tasked with marking Antonio from the early corner but lost his man as soon as he made a darting run forward, meaning Deeney had to move from his position in an unsuccessful attempt to recover and challenge for the ball. Deeney was not happy. It was a poor start but Capoue recovered and showed more guts to put himself in the way of a Payet free kick. Going forward, Capoue keeps getting better. It was a joy to watch the midfielder pick out forward players with intuitive passes, including a very good first time ball which led to Ighalo’s goal. His goal was a replica of the one against Chelsea. Each time he finds the net it looks like he’s sliced it, but the more he does it, the less it seems like luck. If he keeps this form up, his £6.3m price tag looks like even more of a bargain. Let’s just hope he doesn’t vanish when the weather gets cold and wet, as he did last season.
Roberto Pereyra 7
Derek Payne described him as being “at the heart of everything” and “the sort of player you build a team around”. Watford’s answer to Payet struggled for 20 minutes in the first half but always looked threatening when he got on the ball. Pereyra was played through by Deeney in the first half for a chance to shoot but unselfishly squared to Ighalo. It was a perfectly-weighted pass and would have been his first assist, had the striker not opted to take a touch instead of shooting first time. Did earn his first assist later on in the match, with a beautiful cross to Capoue. Highlight of the Argentine’s match was a burst of pace which took him straight through the heart of West Ham’s defence, before he opened up an angle and shot at Adrian, who did well to save and prevent a fifth Watford goal. Payet’s ego would have been dented when Pereyra pushed the ball through his legs.
Odion Ighalo 7.5
He could have had a hat-trick inside 30 minutes. Shifted between a striker and left-wing role, which suited him well as he was able to run at Sam Byram and James Collins all game, using his quick feet and infamous scoop turn to have them falling over themselves. So much so that after 30 minutes, Byram was afraid to tackle the forward and simply kept backing off until Ighalo shifted the ball onto his right foot and found the back of the net – via a deflection off Collins. Unselfishly picked out Holebas for the fourth when another scoop seemed on the cards. Replaced by countryman Isaac Success with 20 minutes to go due to fatigue.
Troy Deeney 7
Started the season less energetic than we are used to, and he was a slow burner here. But led from the front once he curled in a quite brilliant second, hassling and hurrying the Hammers’ defence. The finish was similar to his against Ipswich Town in 2012, just better. You feel that it would have been talked about even more had, say, Payet pulled it off. You could notice Deeney tiring as the game wore on, and he was replaced by Stefano Okaka with 12 minutes to play.
Replaced Ighalo and offered a direct threat, running at the high-pressing and tiring Hammers defence. When teams are pushing forward, Success is the perfect option off the bench. He’s the sort of player who has you on the edge of the seat whenever he picks up the ball. Had one good effort deflected wide and set up another for Okaka. Was not afraid to defend, either, dropping to left-back at one point before darting up field to support Okaka when Watford pushed forward.
Looks like a unit and the ideal replacement when Deeney needs a rest. Tested Adrian with a surprisingly fierce shot from a tight angle and was alert to stab Kaboul’s knock down into the roof of the net, only to be denied a goal by the assistant referee’s flag. Hopefully the injury that caused him to hobble off before the final whistle is nothing serious.
Replaced Kaboul in the dying minutes and had little to worry about defensively. Made one good clearance and a few tidy passes.