Premier League | Upton Park | Sat 1 Feb | 12:45pm
“They put this on TV but not the Tyne-Wear derby?”
Allardici is back, ladies and gentlemen. Fresh from West Ham’s goalless draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the belligerent Hammers chief hit back at Jose Mourinho’s claims of “19th-century football” by declaring he “out-tacticed” and “outwitted” his Portuguese adversary.
WEST HAM FORM
- Chelsea 0-0 West Ham (Prem)
- West Ham 1–3 Newcastle (Prem)
- Cardiff 0–2 West Ham (Prem)
- Man City 6–0 West Ham (LC)
- N Forest 5–0 West Ham (FAC)
- Swansea 2–0 Fulham (Prem)
- Birmingham 1–2 Swansea (FAC)
- Swansea 1–3 Spurs (Prem)
- Man Utd 2–0 Swansea (Prem)
- Man Utd 1–2 Swansea (FAC)
“We can't come here and expect to play an open, expansive game like Man United did. Do we want to do that and they beat us 3-0? I'm not that foolish.”
Quite. Big Sam’s Platoon tribute act threw bodies on the line (and everywhere else) against their west London counterparts, earning a valuable point in a game where they notched only one effort on goal. Unfortunately for Andy Carroll, air-shots don’t count.
They’re still in big trouble despite the potentially useful loan signings of Italian duo Antonio Nocerino and Marco Borriello, with just one win in 10 games keeping them two points adrift in the bottom three.
Saturday’s lunchtime opponents Swansea are somehow lodged in 10th after beating sorry Fulham at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday night, but such is the gulf in class between the top and bottom halves this season that they’re six points behind nearest rivals Southampton.
The win was the Swans’ first since they swept aside Newcastle on December 4, and ended a dismal eight-game winless streak.
On their travels they’ve only won three times (and not since November), although all of those have come against fellow bottom-half fodder in West Brom, Cardiff and Fulham.
In a nutshell, Michael Laudrup’s side have done just about enough to squeeze above their peers, but you won’t find too many tuning in to see the Swans’ half-baked tiki-taka. A devilish recent run of fixtures hasn’t helped but it’s no secret that the South Welsh outfit haven’t looked their usual selves for the best part of a year.
Sure, Laudrup’s men are averaging league-high 59.6% possession with 86.5% success this season, but they’re also doing little with it, ranking a middling 10th for average shots per game (13.3) and efforts on target (4.4).
If there’s an opposition ideal for shooting practice, though, it’s beleaguered West Ham. Laudrup knows this is his side’s big opportunity to get something going again.
West Ham have got over their truly worrying injury problems, but their troubles haven’t stopped altogether. Joey O’Brien is out until April with a dislocated shoulder, while Mo Diame (knee) faces a late fitness test. Winston Reid (fitness) and Joe Cole (knock) aren’t too far off a return.
Swansea are still without Michel Vorm (knee) and star man Michu (ankle), while midfielder Jose Canas (also ankle) is out for another fortnight.
Player to watch: Pablo Hernandez (Swansea)
The former Valencia winger isn’t catching the eye like he did upon first joining the Swans in summer 2012, but a string of niggly injuries have made this a frustrating campaign for the 28-year-old.
His start against Fulham on Tuesday was his first since New Year’s Day, but the Spaniard returned with an assured display in which he created a joint game-high 3 chances and made the second-highest number of attacking-third passes. His passing partnership with right-back Angel Rangel was the game’s most prolific.
Hernandez might benefit from a more direct approach, though. He’s hardly trigger happy, averaging less than a shot every game, and a bit more willingness to test the opposition goalkeeper wouldn't go amiss.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Swans 0–0 W Ham (Prem, Oct 13)
- W Ham 1–0 Swans (Prem, Feb 13)
- Swans 3–0 W Ham (Prem, Aug 12)
- Swans 1–0 W Ham (FAC, Jan 99)
- W Ham 1–1 Swans (FAC, Jan 99)
We all know how this game will pan out, so don’t be surprised when you see Laudrup’s men attempt to pass the visitors into submission, and Allardyce’s hoofing it long every now and again (OK, a lot).
Unsurprisingly this is only their second ever meeting, after the dour goalless draw their teams played out at the Liberty in October.
TIPS & TRENDS
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Facts and figures
- In West Ham’s last 9 Premier League games at Upton Park, they have conceded exactly 3 goals (6 times) or kept a clean sheet (3 times).
- Swansea have won 0 of their last 5 Premier League away games (L3 D2).
- West Ham have had draw/draw results in their last 5 draws against middle-third teams
- The away side has failed to score in the last 4 meetings in all competitions between Swansea and West Ham.
- The Hammers have picked up only 9 points at home this season, fewer than any other side in the Premier League.
- Adrián has been forced to make 6 saves per game in the Premier League on average this season; more frequently than any other goalkeeper.
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Not the same awful stalemate – Swansea have only fired blanks in three of their last 13 games, at both Manchester clubs and Chelsea. 2-1 to the visitors.