Arnautovic sets higher aspirations following West Ham’s top-half finish

Louis Hobbs
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 04: Marko Arnautovic of West Ham United applauds fans after the Premier League match between West Ham United and Southampton FC at London Stadium on May 04, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Marko Arnautovic insists West Ham must aim higher, after they achieved just their second top-half Premier League finish in six years.

The Hammers secured 10th spot by leapfrogging Watford courtesy of a comfortable 4-1 victory at Vicarage Road.

Having battled against relegation for much of last season, West Ham returned to the top half under Manuel Pellegrini – but Arnautovic believes they can do even better next year.

“Every year we want to improve and we want to do better and obviously we want to always be in the top half of the table,” he told

“But I think it’s not our target to be 10th but to be much higher. We played some good football. All through the season we had some brilliant games and we had some bad games.

“We need to look at the good games and to train and learn from the good games because we are a very good side and we have very good players.

“We missed some of those games against the teams around us and lost those games and next year we want to win them and finish higher next season.”

Mark Noble opened the scoring with a fine solo effort before Manuel Lanzini headed in a second before the interval.

The Hornets reduced the arrears just 11 seconds after the restart through Gerard Deulofeu but a red card for defender Jose Holebas just minutes later halted hopes of a comeback.

Arnautovic, who almost left West Ham in January, then slid in to convert a third, with Noble wrapping up the victory from the penalty spot.

The result meant Watford slipped down to 11th having been in the battle to finish seventh for much of the campaign.

Javi Gracia’s side have won just once in the league since beating Wolves in the FA Cup semi-final on April 7 – and that was a narrow victory at bottom club Huddersfield.

They head into Saturday’s FA Cup final clash with Premier League champions Manchester City on a poor run of results.

Watford are likely to launch an appeal to overturn the red card shown to Holebas after the 34-year-old was dismissed having been adjudged to have hauled back Michail Antonio as the West Ham forward ran through on goal.

Holebas will miss the cup final if an expected appeal, which Gracia made clear would be lodged with the FA, is unsuccessful.