A defeat here was definitely not what the doctor ordered, especially when it eroded the goal difference in the process. The confidence and belief will have taken a hit and everyone will be watching Bournemouth take on Southampton on Sunday from behind the sofa, but alas the season now boils down to 180 minutes, albeit excruciating ones, and the Hornets go into that with a three-point buffer, however precarious that may look. There is hope, there is belief and it’s still all very much to play for. Yes, the last two look difficult on paper, but games are never won and lost on paper. Liverpool at home in February looked difficult on a sheet of A4
Two early goals from Michail Antonio and Tomas Soucek were added to by a stunning Declan Rice effort that meant Troy Deeney’s second-half consolation strike was ultimately of little consequence and that the Hornets have plenty of work to do in their remaining fixtures with Manchester City and Arsenal
Heading into the game, the Hornets had shown decent form by picking up back-to-back victories but a desperately poor first half could prove fatal. Pearson’s men remain perilously placed – they need four points to be certain of staying up but finish the season with a daunting home fixture against Pep Guardiola’s City and a trip to Arsenal
Watford deserved nothing despite a belated rally. They were timid without Étienne Capoue in midfield, shambolic at the back and incapable of containing West Ham’s attackers, who ripped the game away from the visitors inside the first 10 minutes.
“There’s no getting away from the fact this result is bitterly disappointing,” said Pearson, who appeared to be struggling to contain his anger afterwards. “It’s a really poor result for us. It’s a case of finding solutions. I’ll look at it again and the players will get honest feedback. There isn’t time to dwell on it. It was not good enough.”
The sound of a bucket clunking on the bottom of an empty well seems pretty appropriate, on this occasion. Early on this Saturday morning, the morning after, the sun is shining. Blue sky, bluer sea, fresh breeze. Tea, but not yet breakfast. I can hear Fred in the living room, cooing at a programme about puppies. Andrea’s having a lie-in. It isn’t a day to be wasted on inquests. What would that achieve?