The Swans arrived at Upton Park making 3 changes to the side that started against Fulham last Tuesday night, with Tiendalli, Amat and Dyer replacing Rangel, Britton and Hernandez respectively. On paper, these looked like decent decisions, with a physical game expected against a robust West Ham side. New signing David Ngog joined the match day squad for the first time, following his signing from Bolton Wanderers, however Marin Emnes was not registered in time to be involved.
Big Sam Allardyce’s Happy Hoofers started the game playing the sort of stuff Jose Mourinho described as 19th Century football in mid-week, namely all arms, legs, set pieces and launched balls into the box. West Ham’s agricultural approach may be shocking to watch, but we found it very difficult to play against.
The first shot on target from either side did not come until the 26th minute. A cross from the left hand side of the pitch was met by Andy Carroll, who not for the first time was given far too much space by Swans defender Chico Flores. Carroll comfortably knocked the ball down for Kevin Nolan, who tucked the ball past Gerhard Tremmel for 1-0 to the Hammers. On balance, West Ham deserved their lead.
The goal jerked the Swans into action, with Wilfried Bony clattered in the box by Tomkins as he was through on goal, then Jonjo Shelvey pulling wide with my left foot. Ashley Williams also skied the goal over the bar with his left foot, following a Swans’ free kick which Shelvey crashed against the West Ham wall.
Then right on half time, West Ham struck again. A corner from the right was headed back across goal by Carroll and Kevin Nolan grabbed his second with a header which Tremmel and Shelvey waved into the net. 2-0 to the home side at half time and seemingly no way back for the Swans. A few thrown tea cups were needed at half time, but like it or not this is not Laudrup’s way.
Laudrup chose not to make any changes at half time, deciding not to throw new striker Ngog into the fray. Personally, I would have made a change to try to force the game, but then I didn’t play for Real Madrid and Barca, so what do I know!
The second half started the same way the first ended, with the Hammers throwing bombs into the box both from open play and corners at every opportunity. Ben Davies cleared over the bar on 47 minutes following a tricky cross from the right hand side and Andy Carroll ballooned over on 52 minutes. However, the Swans then started to switch on and play with more pace than they had to date. Shelvey and De Guzman were prompting from midfield, but the West Ham rear guard held strong.
On 58 minutes, the game took a huge twist, with the sending off of Andy Carroll after a flailing arm that sent Chico to the floor. The BT Sport commentators claimed amateur dramatics by Chico, but for me it was pure Hollywood from the Spaniard as usual. It definitely was not a sending off and Chico as usual made the most of it, but who cares, we needed the points! Unsurprisingly, Chico was booed for the rest of the afternoon by the home faithful, who didn’t seem best pleased, and could you really blame them as the incident put talisman striker Carroll out for the next 3 games.
After the sending off and with the home side down to 10 men, it was one-way traffic for the rest of the half. The Swans had most of the ball, without really threatening as again the tempo from the away side was just too slow and laboured. Bony as always kept working hard up front and had a couple of chances, including an overhead kick on 83 minutes. However, despite the Swans having plenty of corners and putting numerous crosses into the danger area, the defensive duo of Collins and Tomkins looked far too comfortable for the home side.
In summary, we didn’t have the stomach for this game, and despite West ham going down, we never looked like winning. This was only West Ham’s third win at Upton Park this season and we just did not made them work hard enough for it. This troubles me for the local derby next week as it will be another battle. Please don’t let us down boys as it’s a massive game for the club and fans alike. However, let’s keep the faith, move on to next week and enjoy the usual impartial build up from the Welsh media for the next 7 days!
The teams and player marks (out of 10):
Swansea City: Tremmel 5, Tiendalli 5, Davies 5, Chico 5, Williams (Captain) 6, Amat 5 (Pozeulo 6), De Guzman 7, Shelvey 6 (Hernandez 5), Routledge 5, Dyer 6 (Ngog 5), Bony 6. Unused substitutes: Cornell, Rangel, Britton, Lamah. Interestingly, there was no Neil Taylor on the bench.
Swans’ man of the match: Jonathan De Guzman
West Ham: Adrain 7, Demel 8, McCartney 7, Taylor 6 (Reid 6), Tomkins 8, Collins 8, Jarvis 7 (Cole 6), Noble 7, Nolan 9 (Nocerino NA), Downing 6, Carroll 8, Unused substitutes: Jaaskelainen, Morrison, Johnson, Borriello
West Ham man of the match: Kevin Nolan
Scorers: Kevin Nolan 2
Possession stats: Swans 65%, West Ham 35%. These stats tell the same old story for us. Plenty of possession, but a failure to hurt teams.
The match referee: Howard Webb 8. As the Premier League’s top official, Webb showed what he is all about with an assured refereeing performance. He was joined by fans favourite Sian (she has to be Welsh with a name like that) Massey running the line. Webb handed out 1 red card (Carroll) and 1 yellow (Noble).
Attendance: 31,848, including a decent turn out from the Swans, given the fact it was televised and an early kick off.