Saturday, 10th January 2015
Yes, we had a few hairy moments here and there but we could - and probably should have - come away with all three points.
What impessed me most was the new formation, which worked well. Our naturally attacking full backs got forward and always looked like creating something, whilst the pressure and energy shown whilst we weren't in possession was outstanding. I have never seen us chase down the ball so much to stop a team from playing their natural way.
After a shaky start from West Ham - and no real threat to Adrian's goal - we started to find a bit of rhythm to our play. Cresswell and Jenkinson in particular were looking very threatening and playing in some great crosses in for Carroll and Valencia. Our defence looked at their best again; Tomkins was composed and passed well from the back, Collins was always there to block and Reid looked strong and willing to battle.
Our midfield, who were in a new formation today (due to the missing Alex Song who had picked up an illness) seemed to be doing okay. Noble was his usual reliable self, Downing was looking for any chance to run at the defence and get his passes away and Nolan started solidly. He also had a half chance which landed just over the crossbar.
Valencia's pace is always a concern for opposition defenders, and he showed this a couple of times. On the other hand Carroll's aerial presence had been stopped thus far by Swansea, with their fans were booing and jeering his every move. However he was soon to silence the boo boys.
Swansea had their chances as the half wore on and fired a few shots that didn't really test Adrian. Gomis wasted a brilliant chance after being set through, but Tomkins followed the run and did enough to put the big striker off. Sigurdsson had one or two shots from outside the box that fell kindly into Adrian's hands.
Thankfully, just before the interval we made the break through. Downing swung in a brilliant ball from the right, picking out the ever-lively Andy Carroll who did wonderfully to head it down, beat three defenders and lash it into the top left hand corner, past the diving Fabianski.
It was just what the Hammers needed - and frankly deserved for their constant threat. Yet all was almost undone within two minutes, when Routledge was played through leaving our defence wide open - only to be stopped by a brilliant piece of last-ditch defending from Jenkinson. Swansea couldn't find a way through thankfully and the half time whistle went.
Stand-in boss Neil McDonald had a huge tactical decision to make at half time. Do we sit back and defend the one-goal advantage - or do we push to kill the game off? Unfortunately it seems the latter was chosen and we tried to see this game out. This appeared to be a poor decision given Swansea's attacking potency, their pace from Dyer and Routledge and Sigurdsson's natural ability.
The second half started evenly and both teams enjoyed their fair share of possession, We came close to killing the game off when James Collins headed inches wide from a corner (which had been won by Valencia, chasing down a poor back pass from Rangel).
If we were to successfully defend a slender one-goal lead we needed to be as solid as we have been all season. We'd looked good in the first half, making several blocks with the defence in sync with one another.
Swansea were looking more and more threatening as the half wore on, as the Irons began to retreat. In the 62nd minute the Swans replaced Routledge and Dyer with Emnes and Barrow and when I saw these two pacey customers coming off I let out a sigh of relief. In all honesty though, the two had offered very little.
West Ham made their first change with Valencia coming off for Amalfitano, showing we were happy to settle for the one goal advantage. You could see in the Ecuador international's face that he was disappointed to be hauled off as his pace offered an outlet for West Ham.
Just before Valencia left the pitch, Mark Noble had a little word in his ear. In my view, Nolan should have bene replaced first as he had offered very little in this second half. In my eyes, Nolan's legs have gone and he doesn't offer half as much as Amalfitano, for instance, does.
With Swansea pushing for an equaliser they finally get thier reward in the 75th minute, with a huge stroke of luck. Collins had been off the pitch with an injury picked up from a brave bit of last-ditch defending and from a corner, Gomis found a few yards of space to head goalwards. His header struck the post, then Mark Noble and wriggled in.
The hosts made their final change with Portuguese debutant Nelson Oliviera coming on for Sigurdsson. Thankfully neither had a real impact on the game. Nolan then made way for Diego Poyet, after which West Ham looked calm and a real threat again. Indeed, if it hadn't been for Lucakz Fabianski's acrobatics on three separate occasions then we could have easily won this game.
Downing tested the Polish international from the edge of the box and Jenkinson lashed one from distance which was parried away. However the best save of all was yet to come; Aaron Cresswell's long range free kick bounced low and was fumbled by the stopper before Andy Carroll, first to the ball tried to lift it over the 'keeper only to be denied by an outstretched fist.
Despite coming away from the Liberty Stadium with a much-deserved point, the Hammers will feel that it probably should have been all three. Now we need to keep the momentum going and beat Everton on Tuesday.
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Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
Nothing to do, mostly shots at the Spanish stopper and picked the ball from his net once.
Fantastic display, constant energy and great crossing aswell as defensive solidity.
Constant threat on the left flank, beautiful crosses and one brilliant free kick.
Was always where he needed to be, defended well but relatively quiet.
Another fine performance, good blocks and came very close to 2 goals in as many games.
Solid display from the young defender, very composed and passed well from the back.
Very solid and looks back to his best, passed well and broke up play.
Was solid in first half, had a half chance but faded and offered little in the 2nd half. Rightfully substituted.
Played well but not at his usual threatening best, good passing and almost scored a pearler.
His pace was a threat but didn't have a real chance to grab a goal. Chased down well but still settling into the Premier League.
Man Of The Match, fantastic solo effort capped a fine display. Offered an outlet for West Ham and tracked back well.
(replaced Valencia) Didn't see a lot of the ball but when he did dispatched it well and looked compsoed.
(replaced Nolan) Not a lot of time to make his mark, looked composed and almost assisted a goal for Downing. Booked for a crunching tackle late on.
Did not play.
Joey O Brien
Did not play.
Did not play.
Ricardo Vaz Te
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Mike Dean.
Man of the Match: Andy Carroll.
West Ham United
Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, James Collins, James Tomkins, Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan, Stewart Downing, Enner Valencia, Andy Carroll.
Goals: Andy Carroll 43 .
Booked: Diego Poyet 90 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Lukasz Fabianski, Angel Rangel, Federico Fernandez, Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor, Tom Carroll, Leon Britton, Nathan Dyer, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wayne Routledge, Bafetimbi Gomis.
Substitutes: Marvin Emnes (Wayne Routledge 62), Modou Barrow (Nathan Dyer 62), Miguel Nelson Oliveira (Gylfi Sigurdsson 74).
Subs not used: Gerhard Tremmel, Kyle Bartley, Dwight Tiendalli, Jay Fulton .
Goals: Mark Noble og (74).
Sent Off: None.