LONDON — On Sunday at a chilly Upton Park, West Ham beat Swansea City 3-1 in an entertaining clash in east London.
[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]
With victory the Hammers are up to third in the Premier League table and have won three on the spin as Sam Allardyce’s side aim to do something special this season.
Swansea were in this game until the final 20 minutes but Garry Monk’s men ran out of steam after they went down to 10-men.
Here’s three things we learned from the battle between two top-six hopefuls.
WEST HAM CAN BREAK INTO THE TOP SIX
The Hammers are on a roll. With their comeback win over Swansea on Sunday they are now third in the PL and have won three on their spin with just one defeat in their last nine games. Fans of the east London club are known for their cynicism but even they are becoming cautiously optimistic about what their team can achieve this season. Andy Carroll bagged both goals, both headers for his first goals of the 2014-15 season, and is showing signs he’s finally recovered from injury and is ready to lead their attack. More importantly, in Alex Song they have a central hub to build their attacks from, as the Cameroonian midfielder is always looking for the ball and effortlessly shrugs off opponents. Grabbing Song on loan from Barcelona is looking like an inspired transfer.
Then there is Diafra Sakho, who arrived off the bench at half time to replace Ecuadorian international Enner Valencia and hit both posts and was taken out by Lukasz Fabianski as the Swansea ‘keeper was sent off to hand the Hammers a huge advantage. Sakho then slammed home (watch above) the Hammers’ third for his eighth goal in his first 10 appearances for the Hammers. By the end of the game West Ham’s fans were signing “We’re gonna win the league!” Maybe that’s a little outlandish, but this win over Swansea proved their capable of at least finishing in the top six and can challenge for the top four in a season where Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton continue to stumble.
Earlier this week West Ham manager Sam Allardyce revealed he turned down the chance to sign Wilfried Bony for West Ham and instead signed Andy Carroll. So, you just knew Bony would score on Sunday but injury-hit Carroll also scored his first goals of the season and was the match-winner. So it wasn’t all bad news for Big Sam. However with his early strike, Bony is now the highest scoring PL player in 2014 with 19 goals, one ahead of Sergio Aguero, and the Ivorian striker is integral to everything the Swans do. When a long ball is clipped up to the 25-year-old, that is the cue for the likes of Jefferson Montero, Wayne Routledge and Gylfi Sigurdsson to attack. He also went back and marked Carroll on set pieces and is as reliable and hard-working as they come. No wonder the Swans signed him to a new deal earlier this season.
Bony’s hold up play is exemplary and when he gets a chance, he is coolness personified. That was evident as time to stood still when Jefferson Montero pulled the pull back to Bony in the 19th minute, as he delayed his run to open up space as he side-footed the ball home. Bony hit the bar in the second half after a clever run as the bullish forward continues to be the Welsh sides biggest threat. Oh, and by the way, what do you think of Big Sam’s decision to buy Carroll instead of Bony back in 2013? Carroll has scored just four to Bony’s 19.
HAMMERS BACK TO BASICS
In the 41st minute West Ham made it 1-1. It wasn’t the prettiest goal you will ever see but it was ‘so West Ham.’ Carl Jenkinson surged forward from right back and whipped in a delightful ball to the back post (which may have taken a slight flick off Jazz Richards… but don’t let that get away from the beauty) which seem to hang in the air for 10-15 seconds. And then, like a salmon leaping gracefully out of a cold Alaskan river on his way up stream, Andy Carroll hovered and headed home his first-goal of the season.Carroll did the same in the second half as he headed home from Stewart Downing’s corner. This soccer lark is easy, right?
For all of the Hammers’ added panache this season, which is down to the pace and trickery of Stewart Downing, Enner Valencia and Sakho, it was going back to the basics which has served them and Allardyce’s teams so well over the years, which did the damage against the Swans. The Irons’ should not be afraid to deviate back to their old ways from time to time.