Pear­son calls for calm heads as Wat­ford face rel­e­ga­tion ri­vals

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Premier League - By Sam Dean

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.

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