Premier League – Swans v West Ham United at 16:00 on Sunday, 20th December 2015
Referee: Lee Mason
Assistants: A Holmes, S Burt
Fourth Official: S Hooper
After defying the capitulation that many pundits predicated last week against Manchester City – thanks to a vastly improved Swans peformance – Curt’s men will look to build on the positives from that harsh defeat at the Etihad when they entertain West Ham this weekend.
If last week’s cruel defeat didn’t provide any points for the Swans, the peformance certainly provided some optimism and some light at the end of what had become a very dark tunnel over recent months.
Of course the challenge now is to maintain that sort of peformance level and get some much needed points on the board, especially with two home games over the festive period.
Whilst the Hammers are flying relatively high in the Premier League compared to the Swans, they are also on a poor run of form and ironically last claimed a win on the same weekend as the Swans grabbed 3 points at Aston Villa – on October 24th!
As the hunt for a new manager continues, Alan Curtis is likely to keep faith with the same starting eleven which impressed so much last week – despite the return to fitness of Jonjo Shelvey.
Unless there is a tactical reason to change the line-up, it would probably send the wrong message to the players – especially those who impressed so much last week, such as Fernandez and Sigurddson.
West Ham’s impressive start to the season has been built on some fine away wins at Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City but have found goals hard to come by recently due to a chronic injury list. The Hammers are without key players such as Dimitri Payet, Victor Moses, Winston Reid, Manuel Lanzini and Diafra Sakho – all of whom have impressed this season.
With that perennial pain in Swans rear – Andy Carroll – now also likely to miss the game due to a groin strain, we can probably expect a very defensive line-up and choice of tactics from Slaven Bilic and his team.
There’s is little doubt that with West Ham missing key players, the Swans have a much better chance of taking all three points, but a lot will depend on whether or not they can break down what is sure to be a resolute West Ham rearguard.
Sadly, the Swans haven’t been able to prise open defences with the regularity they did last season and is, in-part, why they are hovering above the relegation zone on goal difference this time around.
That said, IF they can show the creativity and desire they did last week again this week, then we fancy the Swans to win a close game by a solitary goal. Now wouldn’t that make a nice early Christmas present!
Swans 1 West Ham United 0
What the Pundits Think
Paul Merson (Sky Sports) – Swans 1 West Ham United 1
It’s three straight draws for West Ham, and they haven’t won since October. Swansea looked like the Harlem Globetrotters against Man City and should have won. If West Ham had their full team out, without the injuries, I’d have gone for them. The injuries have killed them, they’re missing big, big players and they don’t have the biggest squad to deal with it. It will be interesting to see who Swansea go for next as manager. They have always gone for the younger manager, and the set up at the club accommodates that. There’s big potential there.”
Mark Lawrenson (BBC) – Swans 2 West Ham United 0
I looked at how well Swansea played against Manchester City last week and thought ‘where has that come from?’ Their tactics were no different to when Garry Monk was in charge, apart from they all had a go. If they do the same again on Sunday then I actually quite fancy the Swans to win this time. West Ham’s form has dropped off in recent weeks after their good start to the season, especially in front of goal.”
Alistair Mann (MOTD Commentator)
Last week’s heart-breaking defeat at Manchester City effectively summed up Swansea’s recent fortunes. Five defeats in the last six games points to a side lacking in self-belief, yet at the Etihad they moved the ball around with typical swagger, created good chances and on another day would have left with at least a point. That Joe Hart was the hosts’ man of the match says a great deal. It proved that caretaker boss Alan Curtis can be safely entrusted with team responsibilities as the club moves closer to securing Garry Monk’s replacement. Intriguingly, visitors West Ham are also without a victory in their last six games, yet with most of their best displays coming on their travels, they will represent awkward opponents for a Swansea side without a home win since August.”
Last meeting at the Liberty Stadium
10 January 2015: Swans 1 West Ham United 1
Current League Form (Last 6)
West Ham United: LDLDDD
Predicted Swans Starting XI:
Fabianski, Rangel, Fernandez, Williams (Capt), Taylor, Britton, Cork, Ki, Sigurdsson, Routledge, Ayew.
At the Bookies
Those of you who fancy a flutter might want to check out the odds being offered on the game at the moment.
At odds of 7/1 you may fancy Andre Ayew to score first for the Swans or perhaps you like Mark Lawrenson’s prediction of the Swans to win 2-0 with odds of 10/1 at Sky Bet.
Our favourite bet though and the one we’re putting a little flutter on is Gylfi Sigurdsson to score first and the Swans to win 1‐0 at 33/1.
Let us know your thoughts – whether on the game or the betting odds using the comment box below.