Moyes concerned VAR has gone ‘soft’ after Bowen denial

West Ham boss David Moyes urged VAR to avoid returning to picking up “soft free-kicks” after Jarrod Bowen’s disallowed goal in their win at Watford.

Bowen was denied a place among the scorers in the Hammers’ 4-1 win when his bundled finish was chalked off by a VAR review which judged Tomas Soucek had fouled Josh King several moments before when catching him on the ankle with the end of his boot.

Despite the thumping victory at Vicarage Road, Moyes still sounded his frustration at the decision when asked in his post-match press conference, and urged the Premier League not to drop the ‘soft touch’ approach which has been adopted since last summer’s European Championships.

“I’ve looked at the decision, I’ll be worried if the referees are going back to soft free kicks as they did a year ago,” he said. “I was amazed, after seeing it again, I can’t believe that’s the level of free-kick being given out in the Premier League. It’s such a soft free-kick to disallow a goal for.”

Moyes was more impressed with the performance of club captain Mark Noble, who belied his 34 years to play a major part in West Ham’s midfield domination despite making only his first Premier League start of the season.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Highlights from West Ham’s 4-1 win at Watford to move four points off fourth-placed Arsenal

Noble had played only two minutes of first-team league football this season prior to filling in for the suspended Declan Rice at Watford, and even found himself on the scoresheet after dispatching a penalty following Daniel Bachmann’s foul on Jarrod Bowen.

Moyes saod: “He gave me the performance, quality and leadership I really hoped from someone who’s played so many games for the club, and someone who knew we’d been in a bit of a sticky period. He handled it no problem.

“He was as good as anyone on the pitch with how he performed and led the team. He’s had to sit behind Thomas and Declan a bit more this year, but there’s games which will suit him and I thought today’s did.”

Ranieri accuses Nigeria of lacking ‘respect’ over AFCON deadline

Watford head coach Claudio Ranieri batted away questions over Emmanuel Dennis’ absence at the African Cup of Nations, which would see him leave for international duty after Saturday’s game with Tottenham, by suggesting the club’s top goalscorer may not be released at all.

Dennis is the Hornets’ top scorer and behind only Liverpool’s Mo Salah for Premier League goal involvements this season, and is due to leave a sizeable hole in the club’s attack by leaving for the African competition after their next game with Tottenham on Saturday.

However, when asked during his post-match press conference how much of a miss he would prove, Ranieri accused Nigeria, his parent nation, of failing to meet the deadline to request his attendance and said a decision will be made over his involvement in the tournament over the coming days.

He said: “I’m not so sure we will miss Dennis – I don’t know if he goes to the national team. We will have to wait to find out. Let’s think about it this week, and then I will tell you.

“The e-mail did not arrive in the right moment. Then we have to wait, because the national team has a time to send the call-up. They did not respect the days, and I want to see.

“I know the e-mail arrived late. I want to know very well everything. The national team has a time. During the time, they have to send the call-up. If they do not send it during that time, we can choose.”

Ranieri also insisted – despite registering an xG of only 1.29 and failing to test Lukasz Fabianski until West Ham were 3-1 up – that Watford deserved to score more goals than West Ham, and that a more clinical attacking outlay was only a matter of time away.

“At the end of the match, we should have had more goals than West Ham, but they scored and we didn’t. We must help each other to find the right solution individually and also as a team. It’s not possible to continue this way. Sooner or later we’ll score goals, but we need to stop conceding goals.

“I don’t want to make excuses, but when you have the players for one day to prepare, it’s not easy as a mentality to get everyone to the same level.

” “It’s a tough moment, not only for Watford but for the whole world. We have to improve ourselves, and we must do that without conceding goals. That’s the problem.”