Premier League 17/18 Week 29: Swansea City vs West Ham United -Lineups, Preview and Prediction
The Hammers are out for the Swans but a 3-goal win for the home team will see them overtake the East Londoners
15:00 GMT, Saturday 3rd March, Liberty Stadium (Swansea, Wales)
Following an impressive run of five league games in which only four points were dropped, Swansea suffered a comprehensive defeat to Brighton last weekend. While it alone is not enough to derail Carlos Carvalhal’s head-turning start to life in South Wales, it will give a taste of reality to fans and players alike. As one of three teams glued together on 27 points, Swansea may only be in the relegation zone on goal difference but they’re still a long way from tasting safety.
West Ham are one team who look like they may pull themselves slowly but surely away from this dogfight at the bottom. David Moyes’ side may only have an extra three points on the board and have lost two of their last three league games, but they’ve picked up 5 wins from their last 13 league matches. Wins are the only currency worth noting in this fight and with three successive victories over Swansea, another this weekend could prove valuable for the Hammers.
Last Time Out
Swansea City 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday (FA Cup)
Carlos Carvalhal saw the Swans to victory over his old club at the second attempt to book a quarter-final appearance against Tottenham. Amid a busy fixture schedule which has both clubs facing potential relegation in their respective divisions, both managers chose to make five changes each from their previous starting lineups.
For Swansea, this meant a reshuffle which started Sam Clucas at left-back and saw Wayne Routledge getting a rare start.
Perhaps because of the changes or the bitterly cold conditions, Swansea failed to produce anything of note in the first half. Despite having two-thirds of possession, they could not put a single shot on target before halftime. Making two substitutions during the interval, Carvalhal triggered a more decisive style of play from his team in the second. Goals from Jordan Ayew and Nathan Dyer settled the game in the home team’s favour as they took a step closer to claiming silverware.
Last Time Out
Liverpool 4-1 West Ham United (Premier League)
West Ham suffered a mauling in a game which could have ended looking worse despite a reasonably good performance from the Hammers. Marko Arnautović had two good chances to open the scoring for the visitors only for Loris Karius to be equal to his fine efforts. But while West Ham’s attackers looked in sync with each other, their defence struggled to cope with Liverpool’s fluid and pacey attacks.
Patrice Evra made his debut for the Hammers and suffered an undignified return to the Premier League as Mohamed Salah ran amok on his wing. With only one goal separating the teams at the interval, West Ham could not live with the extra intensity Liverpool brought to the second half. When Michail Antonio scored after an hour, his team were already three goals behind with much of their fight draining away from them. The match ended with West Ham well-beaten but safe knowing they won’t need to face the Reds again this season.
Angel Rangel (groin) Leroy Fer (Achilles) Renato Sanches (ankle) and Wilfried Bony (hamstring) are all missing again for the Swans, however, Carvalhal has no new injury concerns ahead of this weekend. Having rested many of his first-team players during their midweek FA Cup replay, he’s also expected to revert to the team which began against both Burnley and Brighton earlier this month.
West Ham United Lineup
Arthur Masuaku is still suspended for this fixture while Patrice Evra is a doubt due to a leg injury and could join Pedro Obiang (knee) Edimilson Fernandes (ankle) and Andy Carroll (ankle) on the sidelines for this match. Moyes may be tempted to switch back to a back-four this weekend following their shambolic defending last weekend and knowing Swansea are likely to play with a lone striker.
Key Battle: Jordan Ayew (Swansea) vs Marko Arnautović (West Ham)
While his brother has swapped allegiances between these two clubs and has a habit of scoring braces in this fixture, Swansea’s main threat is most likely to come through Jordan Ayew. He may not have scored in any of the past three league games but his FA Cup goal was his 6th strike in 15 games across all competitions. Like his club, he will now hope he can carry the momentum from cup to league when he faces West Ham on Saturday.
Leading the line against the Swans will be a rejuvenated figure who’s also in a rich vein of form. Arnautović has successfully converted himself into the main striker and now boasts 7 goals from his last 11 Premier League games. He provides a focal point for the Hammers in attack, with a physical presence that many defenders find unnerving. With West Ham leaking goals away from home, it seems likely that the Austrian will need to score at least once this weekend if the Hammers are to take a good result back to London.
Deep pockets, short arms
On the week that the Swans reached the quarter-final stage of the FA Cup for the first time in 54 years, they remain facing the grim possibility of Championship football next term. While the Swansea board have maintained they’ve been acting with the club’s best interests at heart amid accusations of insufficient investments in the playing squad, figures announced this week revealed they’d made over £15m profit during the last financial year.
With the sale of Gylfi Sigurðsson not falling into this period, it suggests that the club had extra funds at hand this summer. Signings such as that of Roque Mesa also hint at being financially driven buying rather than football focused acquisitions fuelling their summer activity.
The capture of André Ayew at the beginning of this year could be the signal of change in this respect, however, it remains to be seen if the damage has already been done or if these perceived policies have not had any significant impact on their season.
Return of the Beast
Michail Antonio has endured an injury-plagued season so far with only six league starts since mid-October. His goal off the bench against Liverpool last weekend backs up his assist against Watford and is sure to have provided him with an extra dose of confidence as he bids to establish himself back in the team.
With his sights set on a return to the England team, he has the motivation to succeed in the latter part of this season. Having told the Hammers assistant-manager, Stuart Pearce, that he wants to return to the player he once was, he has an ally in his old manager during their time together at Nottingham Forest in channelling the beast that once terrorised defences around the country.
Prediction: Swansea City 1-1 West Ham United
With poor weather and a lot at stake in this game for both clubs, there’s unlikely to be a lot of goals or quality attached to this match. Irrespective of this, they are both a well-matched pairing on current form and there will be little to split these teams when, and if, the final whistle sounds just before 5 pm on Saturday.