David Moyes praised goalscorer Mark Noble’s performance after West Ham returned to winning ways with a dominant 4-1 victory over a depleted Watford at Vicarage Road.
Despite having only one full training session in two weeks, Claudio Ranieri’s men started on the front foot, with Emmanuel Dennis giving the home side the lead in only the fourth minute.
However, West Ham’s match fitness and sharpness was evident as they struck twice in two minutes to take the lead, with Tomas Soucek and Said Benrahma scoring in quick succession.
Noble then scored his first Premier League goal since January 2020 when he sent Hornets goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann the wrong way from the penalty spot for the Hammers’ third in the second half, then in added time substitute Nikola Vlasic scored his maiden club goal for West Ham’s fourth.
“He (Noble) gave me the performance I really hoped for and the leadership and quality from someone who has had so many games at the club, he knows what it means and knew that we had been in a sticky period and he handled it no problem,” Moyes said.
“Overall he was probably as good as anybody on the pitch today with how he performed and the way he led the team so I have to give him big plaudits for it.
Yeeees!!! That's the way we want to play. Difficult game outside in boxing days but great approach guys and really thanks our West Ham fans!! Our 12th player on the field ⚒ Happy to be back on goal sheet ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/CwhssTOxvP
— Tomáš Souček (@tomassoucek28) December 28, 2021
“He has had to sit behind Declan (Rice) and Tomas (Soucek) a bit this year and there are games that will suit Mark and today was one that suited him.”
West Ham clinched their first league away victory since October 31 and ended a five-match winless run in all competitions, but Moyes insisted he demands the best from his team.
“It was a poor start, and we had to pick ourselves up and we did do.
“I’ve got to say, there’s long parts of the first half where we got good control and maybe needed to create some better chances and we did do, but to get back in at 2-1 was really important to us and I thought we deserved it as well.”
He added: “I’m demanding really high levels and I’m wanting that to show in how we play and we’ve done it today with goals, but I thought our play could have been better and it has been better but the one thing they have got is they’ve got a big resilience and a toughness about them that they’re not accepting rolling over.”
Watford boss Ranieri insisted he does not want to make excuses for the result, despite his side’s limited preparation.
“I don’t want to make excuses but you can imagine one day to prepare is not easy as a mentality to put everyone in the same level,” the Italian said.
“That’s it, a tough moment not only for Watford but for all the world. We have to improve ourselves without conceding a goal. That’s the problem. Sooner or later we will score goals.”
He added: “We started very well and then in one minute conceded two goals.
“We must help each other to find the right solution individually and also as a team because (it is) not possible to continue this way.”