In the 20th Volume of our Classic Match series, we delve into the archives once more to relive a memorable West Ham United clash from down the years, this time around, the opposition were Saturday’s opponents in the Premier League in the form of Swansea City.
Cast your minds back to the festive season of 2016, “Rockabye” by Clean Bandit featuring Sean Paul & Anne-Marie was at the very summit of the British Music Charts and Storm Conor was battering Britain in the wake of another Storm, Barbara.
Meanwhile, in the world of football and more specifically, the Premier League, West Ham United were enjoying their second season under Croatian manager Slaven Bilic and their 59th in the English Top-Flight, their first since moving from the Boleyn Ground to the London Stadium.
They were yet to quite reach the heights of the previous campaign, though went into a Boxing Day trip to the Liberty Stadium off the back of a run of form, having just beaten Hull City narrowly at home, sitting 13th in the standings.
Meanwhile, the hosts on the day Swansea, under American Bob Bradley, were fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table, fresh from a crippling 3-0 defeat away at fellow strugglers Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.
The Swans had been 19th for Christmas and headed into the festive affair very low on confidence indeed, having lost three of their last four matches in all competitions, the Welshmen were in desperate need of a win.
The encounter was to be played out on a sunny Boxing Day afternoon at 3 PM, where Santa hats and mistletoe were aplenty in South Wales, the festivities continuing on from the day before.
At the announcement of the two starting Xls an hour prior to kick-off in Swansea, the danger men could clearly be spotted in both teams, the stars with the capability to impact the match profoundly.
For Bradley’s men, these included the likes of Spanish forward Borja Baston and tricky Icelandic winger Gylfi Sigurdsson, while the visitors possessed names such as playmaker Frenchmen Dimitri Payet and pacey England International attacker Michail Antonio in their ranks.
Against the backdrop of a refreshingly encouraging Liberty Stadium atmosphere, the key clash could begin in Wales, getting off to an end-to-end start.
While both sides threatened in the early stages, it would take a goalkeeping error to separate the teams early on with Lukasz Fabianski being made to pay in the 13th minute.
The former Arsenal man spilled a Cheikhou Kouyate effort into the path of ex-Swansea player Andre Ayew, the Ghanaian providing his first in Claret & Blue in trademark style.
The early drama laid down the gauntlet for the rest of the affair and while the Hammers tried to extend their lead, amid the occasional break from the home side, they went in at the break with a very skinny advantage.
Bradley looked to rally his troops at half-time, introducing the duo of Jefferson Montero and striker Fernando Llorente from the substitutes’ bench, though they were dealt a huge blow after just five minutes.
Payet swung a corner in from the left side which Winston Reid was able to get his head to no more than six yards out, the Kiwi was never going to miss and suddenly, even greyer clouds were gathering above the Liberty.
The travelling Claret & Blue Army were in dreamland, but even the most optimistic of them knew that the pivotal three points wouldn’t be secured without a third goal.
This cushion arrived 12 minutes from time with Norway International Harvard Nordtveit picking up the pieces of an Edimilson Fernandes cross that was cleared and firing a low powerful strike goal-bound.
Antonio was the fastest to react, angling a shot past Fabianski beyond the defence, appeals of offside doing nothing to save the hapless Xl of Swansea stars.
However, the hosts were able to make things a little more interesting later on in the 89th minute, substitute Llorente was the man to get it, converting a Nathan Dyer delivery past Darren Randolph.
The home supporters were left to wonder what might have been had the ex-Juventus striker started the match, given the amount of opportunities they mustered up on the counter-attack in the end.
But, Andy Carroll rubbed salt into their wounds less than 60 seconds later, substitute Sofiane Feghouli teeing him up excellently to fire a bouncing volley past Fabianski and into the back of the net, 1-4 and a late Christmas present for West Ham.
The damming loss for the Welsh side would prove the final nail in the coffin in the end for Bradley, who was sacked a short while after as they remained 19th, however, his replacement Paul Clement beat the odds to keep the club up in the end, finishing 15th.
Whereas, Bilic’s men’s form continued to fluctuate between promising and poor over the months that followed, although they were able to survive a late scare to finish 11th, which many regarded as respectable after a tricky season in East London on and off the field.
Although, one question remains, can David Moyes’ West Ham United sail to a similar thrashing when they do battle with Carlos Carvalhal’s Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium this afternoon in a Premier League six-pointer? Think you know? Be sure to find us on Twitter @MooreThanAClub to cast your late score predictions and join the pre-match discussion.