Record signing Sebastien Haller believes that West Ham’s opening Premier League victory at Watford can “launch” their season.
Haller, who arrived in a deal worth up to £45m from Eintracht Frankfurt in July, scored twice as Manuel Pellegrini’s side consigned the hosts to a third straight defeat this term.
The Hammers, who lost all three of their corresponding fixtures last term are 13th, albeit in a cluster of 10 clubs on four points that goes up to fourth.
The French forward said: “It’s really important to get a win. Now it’s done, we’re really happy with the result and the work from the boys.
“It was time to win a game to launch the season.”
Haller, who missed last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Brighton, opened his West Ham account with a tap-in from Felipe Anderson’s cut-back.
And he then acrobatically turned the ball home with an overhead kick from three yards after following up from a corner.
Mark Noble’s third-minute penalty set West Ham on their way to their first win of the season after Manuel Lanzini had been fouled by Abdoulaye Doucoure.
But Watford responded to level with a well-worked Andre Gray goal, with the forward drilling home a right-foot shot from Will Hughes’ pass.
However, the Hornets were punished for their wastefulness in front of goal with just three of their 23 shots finding the target.
Javi Gracia’s side, who sit bottom of the table, have now lost seven successive games in all competitions for the first time since 1999.
Reversal of fortunes for Watford
At the same stage last term Watford had collected nine points after an impressive start, but a pointless return this time around represents a complete reversal of fortune.
While they did at least register their first goal of the campaign, manager Gracia appears to have problems at both ends of the pitch to contend with.
Despite creating a multitude of opportunities, Gray’s 17th-minute strike was all they had to show for their endeavour.
Gerard Deulofeu’s influence as a creator was a plus, but he cannot be relied upon to be the prolific forward the club need to improve on last term’s 11th-place finish.
The former Barcelona man had seven shots on goal, with only a close-range strike that hit the West Ham crossbar finding the target.
It was a chance, alongside Will Hughes’ extraordinary miss from a yard out after Gray had squared the ball with the score at 1-1, that summed up the hosts’ lack of potency in attack.
At the other end the presence of Haller, Anderson and Lanzini provided too much power, pace and guile for the Watford defence to cope with.
Gracia’s side now face a challenging sequence of fixtures – with a home game against Arsenal sandwiched between trips to Newcastle and reigning champions Manchester City – having shipped 41 goals in their last 18 matches.
Haller takes centre stage
Having arrived at West Ham after impressing at Utrecht and in the Bundesliga, there is a certain amount of expectation surrounding Haller.
But his first two goals and overall performance suggested that he has the attributes to justify his club record price tag.
The 25-year-old led the line in exemplary fashion and contributed to all three West Ham goals.
His work to chase down possession led to Lanzini winning the penalty that delivered their opener.
The former France Under-21 international then displayed his predatory instincts, holding his run to ensure he was well positioned to capitalise on Anderson’s break down the left.
That allowed him to comfortably claim his first goal for Pellegrini’s side before acrobatically doubling his tally.
“[Sebastien Haller’s] goals were two very important goals for him,” Pellegrini said.
“Coming to the Premier League is not easy. He had just one start in a difficult game against Man City, for a striker the most important thing is to score.”
Man of the match – Sebastien Haller (West Ham)
Noble joins esteemed company – the stats
- Watford have lost four league matches at home in a row for the first time since a run of five between October and December 2013 in the Championship.
- West Ham are undefeated in their last four away matches in the Premier League, winning three of those (D1) – they’d lost seven of their previous eight (D1).
- West Ham are the first club to have had as many as 150 different goal-scorers in the Premier League, following Haller’s first goal for the club.
- Watford had more shots against West Ham (23) than they managed in their first two games of the season combined (19).
- Watford’s Gray has scored 13 Premier League goals since his debut for the Hornets – only Troy Deeney has scored more in this period (14).
- West Ham’s Noble has scored five Premier League goals against Watford – more than he has netted against any other side in the league.
- Noble has now scored 25 penalty goals in the Premier League – only Alan Shearer (56), Frank Lampard (43) and Steven Gerrard (32) have scored more in the competition.
Watford host Coventry in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday 27 August (19:45 BST) before they visit Newcastle in the Premier League on Saturday 31 August (15:00 BST).
West Ham visit Newport in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday 27 August (19:45 BST), before resuming their Premier league duties at home to Norwich on Saturday 31 August (15:00 BST).
Figures pictured on a cardboard effigy of Grenfell Tower filmed being burned were not meant to represent people who died, a court heard.
Paul Bussetti, 47, told Westminster Magistrates’ Court the images depicted friends who were at a bonfire party on 3 November 2018.
He shared footage of the effigy on WhatsApp and it was added to YouTube.
Mr Bussetti denies sending “grossly offensive” material via a public communications network.
The clip of the cardboard building, which had “Grenfell Tower” written on it, was recorded at a party attended by about 30 people in south London.
Prosecutors said the footage is racist in its content, while a relative of one of the 72 people who died in the blaze on 14 June 2017 called it “revolting”.
Mr Bussetti, of South Norwood, told the court the effigy had been created by his friend Steve Bull and was meant as a joke “about us”.
Asked who the characters on the effigy were, he said they were “the majority of people that were at the party” who had all found it “funny”.
One black-clad figure who was referred to as “ninja” was meant to represent his friend’s son who did martial arts, while his own image had been on the other side of the box, the Mr Bussetti said.
The father-of-two said he shared the footage with about 20 people on two WhatsApp groups but he had never intended it to go further.
When prosecutor Philip Scott suggested he sent the footage because it was in keeping with other “highly racist” content he shared, Mr Bussetti replied that it was “just banter” and denied being racist.
He also told the court he had not originally told police that the people in the tower were him and his friends because he was “scared” and “nervous”.
The trial continues.
A man who stabbed his partner to death in a “fit of rage” has been jailed for a minimum of 21 years.
Elize Stevens, 50, suffered 86 knife wounds when Ian Levy attacked her at his flat on the Great North Way in Hendon, north-west London, on 2 March.
Levy, 55, was naked and covered in blood when he was arrested after a neighbour heard the victim “screaming for her life”, jurors heard.
He was found guilty of murder by an Old Bailey jury and sentenced to life.
Judge Richard Foster told Levy it was “a toxic mix of rage, self-pity and resentment” which led to a ferocious and pre-planned attack in which he “attacked her with 86 sharp form injury wounds”.
Levy, who had only recently been discharged from a psychiatric hospital, had denied murder but admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.
The court heard how neighbour Michael Harvey called police at 10:20 BST after hearing Ms Stevens shouting: “Ian, Ian stop it. Leave me alone or you’re going to kill me.”
When police arrived at his flat in Lime Court, they found Ms Stevens prone on the floor covered in knife wounds, including a slit to her abdomen.
A large kitchen knife, a hammer and a pair of blood soaked men’s tracksuit bottoms were next to her.
Officers said that during his arrest, Levy said: “It’s the hospital’s fault. They let me out when they knew I was depressed.”
Jurors heard Levy was admitted to hospital after telling police he planned to kill himself, but was discharged 10 days later.
Det Ch Insp Noel McHugh said Ms Stevens “was a wonderful mother and decent person, always willing to support others in need and totally selfless”.
“Behind the locked door of Levy’s flat, Elize would suffer a frenzied and mindless attack for no reason,” he said.
“Levy tried to erase a beautiful person from our community but he has failed, Elize will always be remembered as a loving mother and decent person.”