When West Ham won 4-1 at the Liberty Stadium on Boxing Day it was the final nail in the coffin for the short-lived managerial career of Bob Bradley. It would be one of those not so rare football ironies if the visitors should return the favour this afternoon.
In the aftermath of Bradley’s sacking Swansea appointed relative unknown Paul (I Hear You’ve Been a Naughty Boy) Clement as manager. Following an encouraging start the Swans form has started to dip again recently whereby their current record is only slightly better than our own. What once looked like it might be uninteresting end of season routine has suddenly become a ‘six-point’ showdown between two of the clubs battling to avoid what looks increasingly like the final relegation position.
We wanted to do it before now. I didn’t smell this, I didn’t think we would lose five games. But it is in our hands and that is the best you can ask for. Your destiny is in your hands. We are playing a team we have beaten, a team that is five points below us. We have big belief.
– Slaven Bilic
The Hammers losing streak has now reached five equalling that achieved by Avram Grant’s side in 2010/11 but still short of the record nine consecutive league defeats set in 1932; a run that included a 2-1 reverse against today’s opponents in a season that ended with West Ham’s lowest ever league position – one point and one place away from demotion to the third tier. One record that the Hammers can realistically break this season is to go top of the all-time Premier League defeats table; only a further three defeats are required to overtake the current total of 333 shared by Aston Villa and Everton.
Head to Head
The Head to Head record for this encounter is very much bossed by the Hammers and in 25 home league games we have only lost on two occasions (1956 and 2016). Last season’s victory being a huge disappointment in the last ever Saturday game at the Boleyn Ground; with any luck it will be another 60 years before the next defeat. A win today would give West Ham their first double over Swansea since the 1982/83 season and only the second double of the season (the other being Crystal Palace).
There are doubts about the fitness of all the West Ham players but only Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio face late fitness tests. Assuming Carroll and Antonio are available, and with Diafra Sakho getting a run out in midweek, we have the appearance of a team carrying a goal threat against the side with the leakiest defence in the league. Much debate about who will get the gloves this afternoon and it would be no surprise to see Senor Adrian return.
We’re in the bottom three and there are seven games to go, and West Ham are a team who have had their own troubles recently, so we have to go there believing we can get a result.
– Paul Clement
Swansea hope to be able to welcome back Fernando Llorente after an ankle injury but may be with out Kyle Naughton who is suffering with a hamstring problem. If Naughton is unavailable, Leroy Fer may be moved to right back which makes it a shame that we have no left sided attacking player. Despite the negativity I am opting for a rousing 3-1 Hammer’s win.
Man in the Middle
Ain’t it good to know we’ve got Kevin Friend officiating today. A relative stranger to our games Friend was in charge of the league game at home to Manchester City several months ago. In 28 games this season he has waved a friendly 109 yellow cards and a mere two red ones.