It was a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show as Watford produced a disappointing display at West Ham United and were beaten 2-0 by West Ham United as Javi Gracia suffered his first Premier League defeat as Hornets head coach.

There had been some early encouraging signs but Watford’s intensity levels were to drop and they were to survive two scares – Javier Hernandez having a goal chalked off for a tight offside and Marko Arnautovic failing to capitalise on a good chance – before West Ham took the lead when Hernandez headed in a Michail Antonio cross.

The Hornets had more possession and territory after the break, but they were unable to find the quality to create a chance of note before a horrible defensive mix-up with 13 minutes remaining saw the grateful Arnautovic make the points safe.

Watford remain in 11th following the defeat but their cushion to the drop zone was reduced by one point to five.

With Troy Deeney fit to start following his ankle problem in the week, Gracia chose to leave well alone following Monday night’s memorable 4-1 victory over Chelsea. Indeed, with his options again limited by the ongoing injury situation, he named the same substitutes as well.

David Moyes also had numerous players out injured, but he was able to welcome back Arnautovic and Antonio as he made two changes from the side that disappointed in a 3-1 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion last time out.

Sam Byram and Declan Rice were the two players to make way and were named on a bench which also included new signing Patrice Evra.

West Ham lined up with what looked to be a 4-4-2 shape, but Antonio had a free role on the left; dropping back to make a defensive five when the hosts were out of possession, while also looking to bomb on when possible.

Watford had the first attempt of the afternoon in the seventh minute when after a patient build-up on the edge of the box, Abdoulaye Doucuoure laid the ball off to Etienne Capoue, whose right-footed curler was deflected over.

The resultant corner from the left was played short to Jose Holebas, but he whipped a delivery into the near post where a firm Adrian Mariappa header forced the diving Adrian to punch clear off his line.

The Hammers were to almost take the lead in the 11th minute when Arnautovic produced a dazzling run in off the left and after being dispossessed in the area, the ball broke back to him. He was then taken down by a combination of Mariappa and Sebastian Prodl, but the ball ran for Hernandez, but Orestis Karnezis made a fine blocking save with his legs.

West Ham looked to push on from that opportunity before the game settled down as the midway point of the half approached.

Settling down increasingly became a slumber, but in the 31st minute the Hammers thought they had taken the lead when Hernandez headed home a Joao Mario free-kick from the right, but their opponents got the benefit of a tight offside call.

Following that escape, the Hornets had their first attack for a while which ended with Doucoure hitting a shot from the edge of the area which Adrian fumbled and then watched with a degree of concern as the ball ran sideways just in front of his goalline.

But the visitors were to survive another let off in the 37th minute when following a deeper Joao Mario cross from a more central position, James Collins got up at the far back to head back across goal but Arnautovic put his attempted finish straight into the arms of the diving Karnezis.

With their next attempt in the 38th minute though, West Ham did take the lead as Antonio took on and beat Daryl Janmaat before standing up a cross from the left where Hernandez had shaken off Marvin Zeegelaar to leave himself with the straightforward task of heading past Karnezis.

Pablo Zabaleta earned the first booking of the contest a minute before the break for bringing down Richarlison just inside the Irons’ half as the home side took their one-goal advantage into the break.

The Hornets started the second half positively as they looked to get back on terms, but after some early pressure they were nearly opened up when a Hernandez cross from the right side of the area just got the slightest of deflections to take it away from danger.

The first chance of note for either side after the break was to come in the 53rd minute when Joao Mario hit a corner from the left deep to the back post, Cheikhou Kouyate headed back across the target and Prodl headed clear from virtually on his own goalline.

Gracia made the first change in the 56th minute as Zeegelaar was replaced by Roberto Pereyra. Prior to that though, Gerard Deulofeu had been fouled in a good position for the Hornets centrally around 30 yards out. The Barcelona loanee did take the set piece himself and got it up and over the wall but it was at a nice height for the diving Adrian to save.

That substitution heralded a change to four at the back as the visitors began to enjoy more territory and possession, but without the quality and end product when it was required.

That was evidenced midway through the second period when Watford had a good opportunity to break but Richarlison over-hit a relatively simple pass to Deulofeu ahead of him.

Despite the game being increasingly played in the Hammers half, the Hornets almost shot themselves in the foot twice in quick succession with around 20 minutes remaining.

First, a routine pass out of defence was allowed to run all the way through to Hernandez, who closed in on goal and looked set to score before a combination of Prodl and Karnezis kept him out. That was followed by a loose back pass from Doucoure which presented a combination of Arnautovic and Mark Noble with another good opportunity but again the Hornets managed to repel the danger.

Dodi Lukebakio came on for his Hornets debut with 16 minutes remaining in place of Deulofeu and Byram was to replace Joao Mario a couple of minutes later.

But the decisive second goal was to arrive soon after and it was horrible from a Hornets’ defensive perspective.

Lukebakio’s first significant involvement was to make a challenge in the area which saw the ball fall to Aaron Cresswell tight to the byline, his drilled cross was spilled by Karnezis, Holebas had the opportunity to clear but Lukebakio got in his way and the retired Greek international finished up slamming the ball into Cresswell, it cannoned back into the six-yard box and the grateful Arnautovic converted from close range.

Andre Gray came on in the closing stages for Richarlison, but the Hammers were to run down the clock in relative comfort as they moved level on points with their opponents.

West Ham United: Adrian; Zabaleta, Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Antonio; Joao Mario (Byram 76), Noble, Kouyate; Arnautovic (Rice 84), Hernandez (Hugill 87). Subs not used: Hart, Fonte, Evra, Cullen.

Watford: Karnezis; Mariappa, Prodl, Holebas; Janmaat, Doucuoure, Capoue, Zeegelaar (Pereyra 56); Deulofeu (Lukebakio 74) Deeney, Richarlison (Gray 82). Subs not used: Bachmann, Ndong, Carrillo, Mukena.

Bookings: Zabaleta for a foul on Richarlison (44); Prodl for a foul on Hugill (90).

Attendance: 56,917.

Referee: Graham Scott.