It’s now time to trawl back over some of the main causes of discussion from Saturday’s crucial Premier League clash between Carlos Carvalhal’s Swansea City and David Moyes’ West Ham United at the Liberty Stadium, as the hosts came away an eighth successive home victory.
Ayew Comes Back To Haunt Hapless Hammers
Former West Ham club-record signing Andre Ayew was somewhat foolishly sold back to where he originally came from in the January transfer window in relegation rivals Swansea and he duly made them regret that decision at the weekend.
Starting up-front with his brother Jordan for the first time in English football, the pair proved a deadly duo in attack with the older of them claiming three assists and the youngest one a goal.
Ayew was fired up for the occasion of facing his former club, whom he had netted 12 times for in an injury-hit season and a half, following his £20 million move from Wales in summer 2016.
The Ghanaian was often left frustrated in East London by his lack of playing time and poor form, perhaps having a point to prove making his first start of his second spell with the Jacks and proved it right from the off.
With eight minutes on the clock, the Ghana captain’s movement and quick-thinking laid-off South Korean Ki Sung-Yueng to strike home the game’s opening goal, the match’s pace-setter.
The speedy forward would clash with his ex-teammates during a long stoppage for Winston Reid’s serious injury, which ate ten minutes out of the first-half, before almost getting on the score sheet himself by cutting inside and testing Adrian San-Miguel.
In the second period, Ayew was once again in the centre of the action as it was his header that forced Adrian to save and the ball to fall to the feet of Andy King to make it three for the hosts.
On 60 minutes, the man who is still the Irons’ second top-scorer, proved too quick for Cheikhou Kouyate in the penalty box as he skipped in front of him without the Senegalese’s knowledge and earned a penalty.
His younger brother was left to step up and sneakily send the Spaniard between the sticks the wrong way and wrap up the scoring for Carvalhal’s men, the first time they had netted four or more in a PL game in nearly a year and a half.
If Swansea are to beat the odds and the drop for the second campaign in succession, the Ayew brothers may well have a huge say, Saturday’s thumping victory moved them up five places to 13th leapfrogging the Irons in the process and changing the complexion of the bottom half once more.
Irons “Unfortunate” With Swans Strikes
For all of the Welshmen’s dominance in the one-sided affair, many supporters and pundits alike were quick to pick out the good fortune in two of their detrimental goals.
They say things just don’t go your way when you’re at the bottom, but that hardly applied for the Swans on home turf, riding their luck for the aforementioned first and third strikes.
The deadlock was broken on eight minutes, when South Korea international Ki picked the ball up comfortably outside the box and fired a low and precise effort that seemed to take an age to roll into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
The initial thoughts of many pointed fingers at the former Real Betis man, though replays showed that he was unsighted by a ruck of players on the edge of the penalty area and that the ball may have even taken a minuscule deflection on its way through.
If the hosts ever so slightly had lady luck on their side when they opened the scoring, they certainly did when Mike van der Hoorn’s second was followed by another goal from a corner early in the second-half.
Sam Clucas swing the ball into a dangerous area from the right, Ayew was there to meet it with his head and force Adrian into a smart save, but the shot-stopper had failed to notice striker Javier Hernandez to his left.
The ball ricocheted off the head of Chicharito and back into a deadly area allowing King to tap home one of the easiest goals of his career to date and effectively put the match beyond the visitors.
Moyes will feel like he has been hard done by several times away from home this season, but his team have now conceded the most goals in the Premier League on the road, whether they were unfortunate in doing so or not, only failing to concede three or more away in the league on eight occasions.
Away form may be the deciding factor as to whether they remain in the English Top-Flight or not, but they must undeniably learn how to shut up shop at the back a bit better regardless of injuries over the final nine matches of the 2017/2018 season.
Mixed Afternoon For Youngster Rice
19-year-old Republic of Ireland defender Declan Rice has been thrown in at the deep end on countless occasions this season and has shown performance levels and maturity of a player ten years his senior on countless occasions when up against it.
And the trip to Wales was no different, making his first start in the PL since winning Man of the Match in an away draw at Wembley against Tottenham Hotspur on January 4.
Rice has arguably earned the right to his own spot in the starting XI this term, but was called on due to Angelo Ogbonna and James Collins both becoming unavailable less than seven days after the sale of Jose Fonte to the Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang.
In addition to this, the eye-catcher was forced to play as the middle part of a back three of centre-backs with two full-backs either side from Reid’s horrific injury on 18 minutes.
In the same move, the Kiwi was struck down, the youngster made a vital block on the line to deny Federico Fernandez a certain goal from point-blank range and prevent the Swans going two up.
However, Rice then lost his marker van der Hoorn from a corner on the half-hour mark to allow the Dutchman as easy header home to put his team two to the good, thus making it an up and down occasion for the starlet.
The afternoon will go down as another impressive display as well as a steep learning curve for the No41 and he will be hoping to keep his place in the Xl at the London Stadium on Saturday.
Antonio Goal Only Positive For Visitors For Second Week In A Row
If there was one thing to cheer for the Claret & Blue Army who had made the long and treacherous trip from East London amid Storm Emma, it was a second consolation on the bounce for Michail Antonio.
The England winger was introduced from the bench with his team heavily behind, much like in last weekend’s thrashing by Liverpool, at Anfield and achieved the desired impact.
With the Jacks four up, Antonio saw an Aaron Cresswell free-kick fall to his feet via some excellent work from Kouyate, turning and smashing a low shot past Lukasz Fabianski and into the corner.
The goal may not have triggered a miraculous comeback by Moyes’ boys, but it was Antonio’s third of the season and saw the East Londoners’ PL scoring run extended to 13 matches.
But, it also took on extra significance in becoming the club’s 1000th strike in the Premier League, a special landmark for the Hammers on what was a day to forget for them in South Wales.
The Three Lions man is now crying out for a start when Burnley visit Stratford next weekend and he may well get it, hitting form at just the right time for the Irons after his injury return at the start of the month and perhaps even catching the eye of Gareth Southgate in a World Cup year.
So, now that everything there was to discuss from an afternoon that won’t live long in the memory of anyone afflicted with the East Londoners has been well and truly covered, will we be drawing on more positive points come next Saturday evening? After Sean Dyche’s Clarets have paid the London Stadium a Premier League visit?