Pearson calls for calm heads as Watford face relegation rivals
Pearson has urged his players to play with freedom tonight despite the pressure of their relegation battle with West Ham United.
Pearson’s Watford go to the London Stadium on 34 points, the same as West Ham, with both teams knowing that victory could all but ensure Premier League survival.
Watford face Manchester City and Arsenal in their final two matches, so tonight represents their best chance, on paper at least. Watford have won their past two matches, against Norwich City and Newcastle United, and Pearson wants his team to be “calm”.
“On the face of it there is an awful lot riding on it, but it is also important that our players are able to go out there and free themselves up and play,” Pearson said. “When you are under pressure that can certainly affect lots of different aspects of performance, but collectively we have shown a real resilience.
“We need to be calm enough, but that doesn’t mean you don’t play with a passion, a drive and a commitment. It is getting the balance right.”
Captain Troy Deeney has an ongoing issue with his knee but the striker is determined to battle through the pain, Pearson said. Deeney, who had surgery at the start of the season, has played all six games since the restart and was on target twice against Newcastle.
“Troy’s got an ongoing problem like a lot of players have, so I suppose the choice is whether you want to play or not, but he’s very keen to play,” Pearson said.
“We’ve all got different pain and discomfort thresholds. He’s aware of his knee, his situation, and he wants to play. When you get to this stage of the season, especially with the pressures we’re under, when players show a keenness to be a part of it, I think that’s really good.”
David Moyes, the West Ham manager, said his team were in a “good place” as he praised Mark Noble ahead of what could be the captain’s 500th appearance for the club. “He has been a one-club man and served it incredibly well, since being a young player to where he is now – still leading the group, still very vocal, still playing very well,” Moyes said.
“We’ve had some great players here having many games like that – Billy Bonds, Sir Trevor [Brooking], Bobby Moore. I think for Mark to get to 500 games is a great achievement. He is captain, important in the dressing room, and West Ham should consider themselves lucky to have such a good man around.”
Moyes believes West Ham, who face Manchester United and Aston Villa next week, need to win at least one more match if they are to remain in the Premier League.