Hammers keep solid clean sheet
James Collins and Jose Fonte enjoyed a much more enjoyable afternoon in just their third game as a centre back pairing, as did the whole back four against the Swans. Fonte managed to keep his first clean sheet in Claret and Blue as we kept our first clean sheet in eleven games as a team. The back four was barely troubled by the Swans attack yesterday, as we were the team on the offensive for the best part of the game at the London Stadium. Sam Byram and Arthur Masuaku, who were terrorised by the pace of Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott, were barely troubled by Jordan Ayew and Wayne Routledge for the swans as the full-backs were able to stop Paul Clements side gaining any pleasure down the wings. The defence has been the main subject of scrutiny over recent weeks, but we were able to take lots of the pressure off the back 4 in yesterday’s win.
Improved Kouyate nets winner
Cheikhou Kouyate has been played out of position many times this season, but is finally finding joy back in his native central midfield position. The Senegal captain has been played at centre back and right back at various points during the season, causing him to receive criticism for his performances during the course of our poor season. Kouyate looked his former self against the Swans, returning to the sort of form that saw him be made captain of his national side. Just as the first half seemed to be coming to a close, after another half of frustrating missed chances, Kouyate stormed in on the Swansea defence and struck a sweet, accurate low shot into the bottom corner of Lukasz Fabianski’s net. Kouyate also acted as a rock in front of the back 4, stopping the Swansea attack from testing the back line time and time again. Kouyate’s barnstorming performance helped him to win the man of the match award, make no mistake Kouyate is certainly back on form and full of confidence.
Fans left grimacing over Antonio injury
Michail Antonio looked to be back on fire and full of energy as he cut through the Swans backline on a number of occasions inside the first 30 minutes yesterday. However, Antonio’s joy wouldn’t continue as he pulled up whilst chasing a pass from keeper Darren Randolph. The Englishman had to be substituted for Jonathon Calleri, even though the true extent of his injury is not known at this stage, it looks like Antonio may face another spell on the sidelines. Many fans questioned whether Antonio was even fit enough to start the game, having only returned from another hamstring injury on Wednesday against Arsenal, Andy Carroll who picked up a knock in midweek wasn’t risked so why was Antonio? Antonio’s influence was missed as Ayew and Calleri went on to miss a number of chances to lengthen our lead in the second half. One thing is for sure the injury to the top goal scorer could be damaging for us as we try to continue our advance away from the drop zone. Mark Noble is also set to miss our trip to Sunderland next week, after he was issued with a yellow card in his 400th West Ham appearance yesterday, meaning he will receive a one-game suspension.
Bilic – ”The team gave everything”
Our Croatian boss Slaven Bilic had nothing but praise at the final whistle as we took a huge step towards Premier League survival yesterday. Bilic said in his post-match press conference, “The crowd were right behind us. The team gave everything; the crowd recognised everything we gave. We were excellent”.
The Croat has been under huge pressure in recent weeks with speculation circling about his future at the club. The win will certainly relieve a lot of pressure off of Bilic’s shoulders, as we moved up to 14th place, level on points with the three teams above us. It was also our first win in seven and ended a run of five straight defeats, even though we are out of trouble for the mean time, Bilic must ensure the players keep going to secure Premier League safety.
Here is how each featuring player rated, out of ten, in our vital victory over Swansea City yesterday at the London Stadium.
Randolph:6, Byram:7, Fonte:7, Collins:8, Masuaku:7, Noble:7, Kouyate:9, Lanzini:8, Snodgrass:6, Fernandes:7, Feghouli:7, Ayew:7, Antonio:8, Calleri:6