Saturday, April 8

Daily WHUFC News - 9th April 2017

Kouyate cracker gives Hammers huge win

"Nearly 60,000 supporters, the 18 players, the staff and everyone else – we
are all a team," Slaven Bilic claimed before Saturday's vital clash with
Swansea City. It certainly showed as the Hammers were 1-0 winners at London
Stadium. Living every minute, kicking every ball, the supporters proved we
are West Ham United, after all. A huge day for the Club, and a huge win to
go with it. Cheikhou Kouyate's 44th minute strike, ultimately the defining
moment on a warm spring afternoon, could live long in the memory in the
2016/17 campaign. And fittingly under the April sun, the Hammers began the
first half on fire. Michail Antonio was the driving force behind most of the
hosts' good play, driving into the Swansea box and causing frequent trouble.

On the quarter of an hour mark, Manuel Lanzini curled a free-kick marginally
over the crossbar and five minutes later, Robert Snodgrass was denied a
first Hammers goal when his header was stopped on the line by Lukasz
Fabianski. The pressure continued. Lanzini fired another strike over and
Andre Ayew was this time the man to be denied by the in-form Fabianski as
the Pole dived low to his right to deny a delightful curling effort. You can
forgive any West Ham fans who then began to have those 'here we go again'
thoughts. Jordan Ayew – brother of Jordan – wracked the nerves around London
Stadium when he failed to convert from a couple of yards, and minutes later
his cross for Sigurdsson was inches too long. But then came the moment – the
moment that could be defining in West Ham's season.
Yet to cause the Swans too much trouble, there seemed little on when Kouyate
picked up the ball halfway into the opposition half. But the Senegal
international was allowed to advance and advance and as the space opened up,
so did the eyes of 56,000 Hammers. You beauty. Crashing a shot into the
bottom corner from 20 yards, Kouyate sent the home fans into raptures – a
flash of relief around London Stadium as the referee blowed for half time.

The second period almost began as the first had ended – with a Hammers goal.
Stretching to get on the end of Ayew's chipped cross, Sam Byram could not do
enough to turn his effort goalwards, however. The Hammers were made to wait
almost 25 minutes for their next opening, though. It came when two
substitutes – Feghouli and Calleri – combined well only for the latter to
chip just over the bar from the front post. Lanzini went close with another
free-kick 12 minutes from time and Ayew stung Fabianski's palms once again,
but the final ten minutes were about ensuring all three points would be
staying in east London. Sub Luciano Narsingh's tame effort from the right
hand side, which floated over Randolph's bar, was the closest Swansea came
to stealing a point though, and the Hammers held on to record a massive
three points for the Football Club.

West Ham United: Randolph, Byram, Fonte, Collins, Masuaku, Noble, Kouyate,
A. Ayew (Fernandes 86), Lanzini, Snodgrass (Feghouli 70), Antonio (Calleri
Subs not used: Adrian, Nordtveit, Carroll, Sakho.
Goals: Kouyate 44
Bookings: Kouyate 44, Lanzini 57

Swansea City: Fabianski, Naughton, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson, Cork (Montero
65), Carroll (Llorente 46), Routledge (Narsingh 46), Fer, Sigrudsson, J.
Subs not used: Nordfeldt, Amat, Ki, Kingsley.

Bilic praises supporters after massive victory

Slaven Bilic praised the supporters for driving his team to victory against
Swansea City on Saturday
Cheikhou Kouyate grabbed the game's only goal just before half time with a
superb strike from the edge of the box
The boss also expressed just how much the three points meant to him

A delighted Slaven Bilic praised the West Ham United supporters as they
drove his team to victory over Swansea City at London Stadium on Saturday.
The win, sealed by Cheikhou Kouyate's 44th-minute belter from the edge of
the box, saw the Hammers end a run of seven games without a win and move
eight points clear of the bottom three in the Premier League. And the
Hammers manager's delight – as well as relief – was clear to see at the
final whistle. He said: "We are delighted. The pressure the players were
under – forget me, they are the ones who perform in front of nearly 60,000 –
they gave everything and that's why I'm very pleased. "The crowd were right
behind us. We knew they were going to be from the start but we kept them
behind us for 90 minutes because they recognised everything we gave. They
were so important. "Of course, we put ourselves in the situation to be under
this kind of pressure, but to win with a clean sheet is very important. It
was solid and it was a team performance. The players who came off from the
bench did a good job. "It was a good day for us, especially when it's well
deserved. It opens the gap from them to us even bigger, and it's really

Kouyate's goal, which saw London Stadium erupt just before the break, was
the Senegal international's first in the league this season. The crowd were
right behind us. We knew they were going to be from the start but we kept
them behind us for 90 minutes because they recognised everything we gave.
And the boss admitted he was a little surprised to see the midfielder on the
scoresheet. "It was a great goal," the Croatian continued. "We talk about an
individual goal, but we all wanted it when we got it in that dangerous area.
"We started the game well and had a couple of opportunities but then that
goal was a little unexpected from Cheikhou! No, it was a great goal. "We
knew they would be dangerous but then space would open and that's why we
made changes from the bench and all three players that came on did their
jobs well. "Unfortunately for us, Michail's injury came out the blue. We we
have to stay positive. Calleri came on and did really good. Andy Carroll
will be almost definitely fit for the next game, and Michail is like
superman – he's always ahead of schedule. I expect he'll be back very soon."

After a difficult few weeks, culminating in Wednesday's defeat at Arsenal,
there was a huge sigh of relief breathed around London Stadium on Saturday,
a feeling the gaffer shared. "To me personally, it means everything. I'm
relaxed about my job though and I'm just pleased with everything the boys
did. "It's about the Club and the players. We are the ones to blame to be in
this situation and my celebration was more towards the players than me. They
deserved it. There's no stopping now. We need as many points as we can get.
"It's still a big job for us to do. We need 40 points as soon as possible,
and I told the players that. That's the minimum goal. It's going to be hard
of course, but if we concentrate like this, it's very possible and we have a
chance against any team."

Martin Allen - Ginge was outstanding

Hammers legend Martin Allen gives his reaction to a hard-fought - and much
needed - victory over Swansea City at London Stadium... Allen, who played
232 games for the Hammers across a seven-year spell in the 1980s and 90s,
was thrilled to see Slaven Bilic's team gain a crucial three points. He
said: "It was a big three points, a very nervy occasion before the game, but
I thought the players, right from the start, put in a controlled,
disciplined performance. "James Collins was an outstanding performer on the
day. West Ham could have had more goals on the counter in the second half,
but overall it was a great three points. "The winning goal was a lovely one.
Kouyate is a good player - a great athlete who is full of energy and gets
his foot in. When it came to it, he made the strike. "Everyone knew what the
game meant, and the supporters rightly got behind the team right from the
first second. Yes, it's praise from the crowd, and the players too, they
have to give them something to get off their feet. That's what they did."

Kouyate - My most important goal

Cheikhou Kouyate hailed his Swansea City match-winner as his 'most
important' goal for the Club
Midfielder's long-range strike scored a vital victory for West Ham United at
London Stadium
Hammers ended a run of five straight Premier League defeats and eased
relegation fears

Cheikhou Kouyate hailed his spectacular match-winner against Swansea City as
his 'most important' goal for West Ham United. The Hammers overcame absent
stars and the loss of Michail Antonio to a first-half injury to secure three
vital points at an atmospheric London Stadium. Kouyate's goal came a minute
before half-time and relieved the pressure that had been building after the
home side passed up a number of first-half chances, when the Senegal
midfielder ended a slick move involving Mark Noble and Manuel Lanzini by
belting an unstoppable low shot past Lukasz Fabianski. "This victory is very
important for the team because we have had a few difficult weeks and now
this victory is good for the fans, for the players and for the staff," said
Kouyate. "This is my most important goal for West Ham and this goal came in
a good moment, but the really important thing today was not the goal, but
the three points. We must continue to focus and work hard.
"There was big, big pressure because the team needed to win this game.
Swansea had one chance to score late on, but Sam Byram was there to save the
team, so we can go to Sunderland next week and fight for some points and go
for the win."

Victory over Swansea ended a run of five straight defeats and came courtesy
of a first clean sheet in eleven Premier League matches. With the Hammers
slipping from ninth to 15th in the table over the same period, and sitting
just five points above Paul Clement's team at kick-off, there was plenty of
pressure on the hosts at kick-off. However, Bilic's players withstood that
pressure, worked their socks off and collected three points that moved them
up a place and nearer to safety. "We have this in our team, you know,"
Kouyate said. "Last year was unbelievable, but this year has not been a good
year, we know. "We needed to keep our focus and keep working hard and we
knew one day it would turn for West Ham and now we have got three points
that were very important for the team. "The Premier League is not easy.
Every game is hard and we have a lot of injuries. We have worked hard and
now we need to focus on the next games we have got coming up."

Kouyate's match-winner was met with huge celebrations around London Stadium,
none more so than among the fans who pulled him into the stand for a
celebration that saw him booked, and on the bench, where manager Bilic
showed his sheer passion by dropping to his knees and clenching both fists.
"After I scored, I went left and I went right [in my celebration] because
this goal was very important to me, and you could see I took a yellow card
because I went to the fans and one of them took my head!" laughed the No8.
"But this is good, because we are West Ham! "We now have six games to go
and now we will go for as many points as we can. We will take it game by
game and we will see where we get too afterwards. "I like Slaven. He said to
me this week 'I like you Cheikhou, do you like me?' and I said 'Of course I
like you!". I like the boss because this guy is unbelievable, he works hard
for the team and for the players and this victory is good for him."

West Ham United 1-0 Swansea City
By Michael Emons
BBC Sport

West Ham ended a five-game losing run as they gained a much-needed win over
struggling Swansea City. The Hammers took a deserved lead just before
half-time when Cheikhou Kouyate collected a Robert Snodgrass pass and scored
with a stunning low 25-yard strike. Swansea substitute Luciano Narsingh came
closest to an equaliser for the visitors but his powerful strike went just
over. The result leaves Swansea in the bottom three of the Premier League
with only six games left to secure their top-flight survival. For West Ham
though, they move up to 14th and now have an eight-point cushion between
themselves and 18th-placed Swansea.

Not pretty, but three vital points

The pre-game stats made unpleasant reading for West Ham, as they had lost
five Premier League games in a row, gone seven games without a win and had
won only once in nine to be dragged into a relegation battle. Manager Slaven
Bilic had called for his side to stay together and was rewarded with a
battling performance and a solid defensive effort that nullified a
lacklustre Swansea side. Kouyate's strike was a rare moment of quality in
the game and came after captain Mark Noble, making his 400th appearance for
the club, played forward to Snodgrass, who set up the Senegal midfielder. As
the Swans defence backed off, Kouyate was given the space to drill home a
beautiful strike, the lead deserved after Swans goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski
had earlier denied Michail Antonio and Robert Snodgrass.
With West Ham defending well, especially through last-ditch blocks from
James Collins and Sam Byram, the Hammers held on for a win, which Noble
described as "their biggest for a number of years". The only negative for
the Hammers was a hamstring injury to Michail Antonio, who had looked lively
leading the line before he pulled up as he sprinted down the left wing
during the first half.

Under-par Swansea disappoint

While West Ham move up to 36 points, Swansea, on 28 points, face a huge
fight on their hands if they are going to extend their six-year run of
top-flight football for another year. The Swans, who conceded three late
goals in a 3-1 home defeat against Tottenham on Wednesday, will need to play
much better than they did at the London Stadium, where there only had one
effort on target. With the normally effective Gylfi Sigurdsson having a
quiet match, the Swans best work came from Jordan Ayew but he could not do
enough to force his side level. Second-half substitute Fernando Llorente,
the club's top goalscorer this season, had missed two games because of an
ankle injury but was off the pace and did not look like scoring. Manager
Paul Clement could also be without Jack Cork for a while. The midfielder
limped off with an ankle injury after he landed badly in challenging for a

Fernando Llorente
Swansea striker Fernando Llorente, who has scored 11 times in the Premier
League this season, came on at half-time but had no attempts at goal and
only touched the ball once in the opposing penalty area

Man of the match - Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea)
Swansea goalkeeper Lukas Fabianski made five saves to keep his side in the
game, including this excellent one-handed effort to deny a close-range
header from Robert Snodgrass on the goalline.

Swansea's woeful away run - the stats

Swansea have lost five consecutive Premier League away games for the first
time ever.
West Ham registered a win for the first time in their last eight top-flight
games (drew two, lost five).
Swansea are without a clean sheet in each of their last 15 Premier League
away games, the longest current such run in the top-flight.
Cheikhou Kouyate scored his first Premier League goals in 30 games, last
netting against West Brom on 30 May 2016.
Robert Snodgrass registered his first goal involvement in his 10th Premier
League game for West Ham, having scored three and assisted two in the 10
before that for Hull.
The Swans directed only one shot on target in the game; only once this
season in the Premier League have they managed fewer (0 v Tottenham on 3
The Hammers kept a clean sheet for the first time in their last 11
top-flight games.

'A very poor result' - what they said
Huge win for Hammers - Bilic
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic speaking to BBC Sport: "It is a huge win and I
congratulate the boys. The spirit, team-work. We were solid and dangerous.
We deserved to win. "It was much-needed. There was big pressure, not on me,
but the players. The crowd recognised that and were behind us. "It was a
great goal. We started well and after half an hour they slowed us down. We
had chances before the goal, but in every game you need a spark of extra
quality. "It's my job, but there's a bigger picture about the club. We are
the ones to blame for being in this position. I was celebrating for the
players, because they have been with me and they deserve it. Now we need
four more points as soon as possible. "We were out of the relegation battle
six games ago and we are out of it again. We don't want to be in it again."

West Ham captain Mark Noble: "That's our biggest win in a few years. The run
we've had, we haven't been good enough but we haven't had the rub of the
green either. "I thought we played well under pressure. Swansea were only a
few points behind us. It was so important and it's a fantastic win for the
club. "One more win should see us safe. This should release the pressure,
the lads should be happier. We haven't been good enough for a couple of
months, but this should release the pressure. "It was not pretty but the
only thing that matters was the three points. There's no point in us playing
like Real Madrid and losing 2-0."

Clement criticises 'very poor' Swansea
Swansea manager Paul Clement speaking to BBC Sport: "It's a very poor result
for us. We didn't deserve anything more than what we got. In the first half
we were full of anxiety and fear. It affected out ability to do the basics.
"We made changes in the second half to be more positive, but we lost our
identity and shape. It was a scrappy, poor game of football. Both teams are
struggling. It's a big result for them and they won't care about how they
performed. It's not a good afternoon for us. "In the second half we gave it
more. We were less anxious, but in terms of shape and technical quality, we
were not at the level required. "We got the ball up there a little bit more
after Fernando Llorente came on. We had a couple of half-chances, but we
didn't create enough clear-cut chances. "The only positive we can take is
that not much has changed around us. Hull lost at Manchester City. It's
still tight with a lot of football to be played."

What's next?

Both sides are next in Premier League action on Saturday, 15 April. Swansea
play at Watford, while West Ham are away at Sunderland (both 15:00 BST). The
Hammers will be without club captain Noble as he will be suspended for two
matches after he picked up his 10th booking of the season for a foul on
Leroy Fer.

Mark Noble: West Ham captain calls Swansea win their 'biggest in a few

West Ham captain Mark Noble has called the win over Swansea their "biggest
in a few years", as the Hammers moved eight points clear of danger. Cheikhou
Kouyate's goal gave West Ham the win at the London Stadium as they ended a
run of five successive defeats. The Hammers are 14th with six games
remaining and Noble thinks one more win should secure their top-flight
status. "We haven't been good enough for a couple of months, but this should
release the pressure," he said. Prior to the game, Slaven Bilic's side had
gone seven games without a win and had won only once in nine to be dragged
into the relegation battle. There had been speculation about Bilic's future,
but the club released a statement saying they had "100% faith" in the
Croatian. Swansea stay 18th after the defeat, while West Ham next face
bottom club Sunderland on 15 April. "That's our biggest win in a few
years," said midfielder Noble, 29. "The run we've had, we haven't been good
enough but we haven't had the rub of the green either. "I thought we played
well under pressure. Swansea were only a few points behind us. It was so
important. "One more win should see us safe. Hopefully we've broken that run
of losses - games we shouldn't have lost. Sunderland away is massive and
then we have some tough games."


Written by Matthew Jones @MatthewJ_Joness

Today was one of the more enjoyable days which I have experienced at the
London Stadium as I travelled to see West Ham beat Swansea 1-0 in a crucial
match at the bottom of the table. The sun conveniently came out today over
Stratford as locals enjoyed picnics by the rivers surrounding the Olympic
Stadium as boats sailed past in the 20°C heat. I arrived in plenty of time
for a few pre-match pints, and most importantly watched West Ham secure a
vital three points as we increased our chances of survival in the Premier
League. One thing I noticed which has come to my attention in recent weeks
was the ratio of tourists to 'proper' West Ham fans at the new stadium. At
Upton Park the fans were always predominantly cockneys – however at the
London Stadium it feels like the fans consist of upper class families and
tourists, with the odd East Londoner in each block. This is something which
I have noticed a lot more recently, however this was always going to be the
case as we move to a landmark in the English capital.

Now onto the actual game, which I know is what you want to read about.
Starting from the back, Darren Randolph did not have a whole lot to do the
entire game. I expect him to keep his place next week against Sunderland,
despite appeals for Adrian to replace him. Moving onto Sam Byram – I thought
the young fullback was the best defender on the pitch today. Byram
confidently got forward a lot today, even more than the winger in front of
him (Snodgrass). Alongside his attacking runs, he got involved in more
tackles than the rest of the defence (bar Ginge). This included a last ditch
tackle in the last minute to deny Swansea an equaliser – he showed sheer
determination here, while many West Ham players would have stood still in
his position. Now onto the centre-back pairing, starting with Collins. I
felt he will a lot more solid than he has been since he came into the side
after Reid's injury. Ginge got stuck into many old-school challenges which
isn't unusual for the big man. He managed to win the majority of aerials and
tackles despite his lack of pace against the Swansea attackers. The only
downside was that he showed his ineptness to play the ball out from the back
like Reid or Ogbonna can. Ginge tends to boot the ball aimlessly up the
pitch too often. For instance in the last ten minutes, we were really
pushing for a second goal and the ball was passed back to Collins, who
decided to pummel the ball 50-yards before it went for a Swansea goal-kick.
This reversed the balance of pressure in the game, and suddenly we were put
on the back foot again. Despite this, I thought Ginge put in a solid 9/10
performance today. Now we move onto his centre-back partner, Jose Fonte, who
I thought was poor again today. The former Southampton defender didn't stand
out as terrible because he was covered by Ginge. In the first few minutes he
under hit a pass back to Randolph which almost gifted Swansea an early goal
(wouldn't that be a surprise!). Fonte 'ghosted' the majority of the game as
he did not show any willing to go in for many tackles, and instead he roamed
around the back of the pitch so that he did not have to get involved in too
many challenges. This demonstrates his lack of confidence which he has in
himself, and I would drop him out of the first XI next weekend. Next on the
list is Masuaku, who I thought put in a decent shift today. He is definitely
a step-up from Cresswell this season, and I believe he will keep his place
when his competitor returns. Masuaku proved he can defend as well as attack,
which is something that Cresswell struggled to demonstrate this season.

Now onto the midfield, beginning with Mark Noble, who I thought was more
reliable than he has been in the past this season. He seemed to play a lot
more composed despite the intense pressure of captaining a game like this on
his 400th appearance, and did not conduct any of his typical poor back
passes or giveaways to the opposition. After Byram's impressive last-minute
tackle, the big screens pictured Noble charging over to Byram immediately,
vividly congratulating him and motivating him further. You could see veins
popping out of Mark's forehead at the time on the digital screen, which
showed how passionate the man is about West Ham. Mark Noble's partner in
midfield was goalscorer Cheikhou Kouyate. The Senegalese international
scored a beautiful goal which consisted of a quality finish from outside the
box, before sprinting for the fans in the stands. It was a moment of sheer
relief for West Ham fans, as Kouyate won the game for the Hammers. However,
despite the goal, I think he was rather invisible for the rest of the game.
I did not really see him get involved a whole lot and he lacked the high
energy to his game which he usually portrays. Despite all this he did win it
for us, and it is goals which win you the game at the end of the day.

Moving onto the right-wing we have Robert Snodgrass, who was rather
terrible. I am baffled as to what he did to warrant a start in the first
place, and he proved on the pitch that he didn't deserve this chance. Not
only were his corners completely inaccurate in reaching any Claret and Blue
shirt, but his work rate was poor too. Snodgrass let the less experienced
Sam Byram cover for him as the right-back did all the running for him. The
winger lacked an urgency to receive the ball and failed to offer an option
for the player with the ball. It took him fifty minutes to show some
determination when he helped out at the back as he cleared away some long
balls from Swansea. I am sure many of you will agree that Snodgrass should
never have started this game in the first place. Bilic clearly realised this
too as he replaced him with Feghouli in the 70th minute. I thought Sofiane
provided some pace in attack and he attempted to get the ball moving
forward. However he didn't really have enough time given to him by Bilic,
nor did his teammates support him enough to make a real impact. In
centre-attacking midfield, we had Andre Ayew. I thought this man was the
best-pressing player today. The forward pushed Swansea's back four really
successfully and kept the momentum high in the team. You could see that some
of the West Ham players were beginning to relax too soon, however Ayew
sustained the pressure and was constantly sprinting up on the Swansea
defence, giving them little time on the ball. Edimilson Fernandes came on
for the Ghanian in the 86th minute. I really rate Edimilson and we need to
hold onto him. I think this guy deserves a start next weekend. Despite
having only nine minutes on the pitch, he got stuck in straight away and
wasted no time in helping out the team. He is clearly a midfielder who plays
the style which West Ham fans enjoy as he bravely gets stuck into tackles,
whilst playing the ball out with class. This player is definitely one for
the future. The final midfielder on the pitch today was our playmaker Manuel
Lanzini. Unfortunately he was placed out wide, which I thought was a poor
decision from Bilic. The Argentinian plays his best games down the middle;
therefore Bilic should have played Ayew up front; Lanzini in the middle;
Antonio on the left and Snodgrass (if he must start) on the right. I thought
that Lanzini struggled to make a great impact from this wide position in the
first half, however later on he adjusted his game in order to play a more
significant part in the match, which all the top players should be capable
of. In the second half he started to demonstrate what he can do, including a
sublime roulette round a Swansea defender which resulted in a perfect ball
in for Calleri to finish (which he didn't). The Jewel showed today that he
is a top quality player, and I would not be surprised if a few top clubs
displayed interest in him this summer.

Moving onto the 'striker', Michail Antonio started the game however he was
taken off early due to a hamstring injury. I expect him to miss the next
month of action, considering he was rushed back and Slaven will not want to
take any more chances with him. It was Jonathan Calleri's lucky day as he
was brought on as the replacement of Antonio. When Calleri first came on he
did very well to win lots of aerial duels against some aggressive Swansea
defenders. It is clear that he has got a lot stronger since the start of the
season, and is adjusting well to the physicality of the Premier League. To
be fair to him it is not really his style to be playing off long balls,
which is Bilic and the player's fault for hoofing the ball up the pitch
without a real target man. Calleri is the type of striker who requires
through balls in order to score, however he cannot do this unless his
teammates help him make direct runs for the midfield to play balls into
them. This did not happen because the shape of West Ham involved a flat-five
in midfield with 5 ft 8" Calleri stuck up front as the target man. As the
game elapsed it became clear that Calleri lacks any awareness of other
players. He passes when there is no one to pass to, and dribbles when there
is a player completely free. He definitely should have finished off
Lanzini's pass after the delightful skill, whilst he also had several other
opportunities where he should have at least tested the goalkeeper. Calleri
still lacks confidence and his slow-mindedness is causing him to struggle in
the Premier League.

The last man I want to assess is Slaven Bilic. He did cause himself some
problems today. as he should have started the game with different players.
It was a game that we had to win; which means we have to score goals;
therefore you should be playing a striker especially when you have three
available. I understand if Carroll and Sakho are not match-fit, but if Sakho
got twenty minutes against Arsenal then surely he could have got on today.
It is clear that we struggle to win games, however Bilic does not help
himself when he will not choose the best possible players for his XI.
Despite this we got the result that we needed, and it was clear how much
this meant to Slaven Bilic. As the final whistle was blown, Slaven sank to
his knees with his hands clutched to his face. He has been under a lot of
pressure this season, but today he was full of emotion and passion
(something that former West Ham managers have lacked). It is fantastic to
see a manager who cares about his job as much as Bilic does, and I
desperately want to see him succeed because he is one of the only managers
in recent times which West Ham have actually shown full respect to.

To conclude we got the three points that we crucially required and our
survival chances have now taken a massive boost, as West Ham move six points
clear of the relegation zone. It was not a perfect game by all means, but it
was a lot better than what the fans have had to put up with in recent weeks.
I am anticipating the Sunderland game already, and we must get three points
to guarantee our Premier League status. This next game could be just as
important as Swansea was today.

Next week I would like to see the following line-up, in a 4-4-2 formation:
Randolph, Byram, Kouyate, Collins, Masuaku, Fernandes, Noble, Ayew, Lanzini,
Sakho, Carroll.

COYI and roll on Sunderland next weekend!

Matthew Jones

West Ham needed Cheikhou Kouyate's magic to beat Swansea, says Slaven Bilic
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 08/04/17 8:07pm

West Ham needed the type of brilliance that Cheikhou Kouyate provided
against Swansea at the London Stadium on Saturday afternoon, according to
manager Slaven Bilic. The Senegal international thumped a long-range effort
past Lukasz Fabianski in the final minute of the first half to send the
Hammers on their way to three crucial points in their bid to beat the drop,
while also ending a run of five Premier League defeats in a row. However,
while claiming West Ham deserved to win, Bilic also admitted after the game
that his side were in need of a moment of magic as the match approached
half-time still goalless. "I congratulate the players, fans, everybody that
was in the stadium and we deserved to win today, that is my opinion," he
said. "We could have killed the game earlier to make it easier for us, we
had enough chances, but we did not. "But it is ideal to win 1-0 against the
opponent who is below us, five points and now it is eight. "And then to keep
a clean sheet and to do it with proper togetherness and energetic
performance from the whole team. Very mature, all the time together and that
makes me really, really pleased. "We created a couple of chances before that
you might have expected us to score. Then they had a good spell by slowing
our rhythm with throw ins around our box and a couple of corners and free
kicks. "And then we needed that type of magic and touch of class and quality
and Cheikhou scored a brilliant goal. It was a good time of course to go in
at half-time with a good result and a good plan for the second half. So it
was crucial. "Then in the second half we did not drop - OK there is a bit of
nervousness, they are throwing bodies up, strikers, wingers. "But then we
knew they were going to have their moments around our box, but we knew we
had to defend with numbers and use that space behind that they were leaving
open. And we were using that really good, apart from the final ball from the
shot of the final touch. "So we could have scored the second one to make it
easier for us, but we did not, but still it is a really good day for us."
Bilic opted to leave Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho on the substitutes' bench
for this massive relegation six pointer due to fitness concerns over both
In the end, though, the Croat did not need to call upon either man as the 11
players on the field saw the match out. "Diafra was out for three and a half
months and his recovery is going really good," said Bilic. "But for him to
be part of two games in three days is… "Although it was not a whole game, we
have to be very careful with him after three and a half months of absence,
he means a lot to us and we do not want to lose him again. "Andy was a
gamble, nothing serious with his groin to be honest, but serious enough that
he should not be in the squad today. "But I asked him: 'Andy can you at
least be there for 10-15 minutes maximum if we need you?' Because it did not
get worse after the Arsenal game. And of course he is always going to say
'yes'. "And he said 'yes,' so we kept him there in case and if it was 1-1 or
0-0, he would have come on probably or definitely, but we did not have to
put him on. "And all three players who came from the bench did really good,
they stabilised us, or even improved our performance."

West Ham United 1-0 Swansea City: Cheikhou Kouyate wonder strike eases
Hammers' relegation fears
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 08/04/17 5:55pm

Cheikhou Kouyate's first-half strike sealed a nail-biting 1-0 win for West
Ham United over Swansea City at the London Stadium to ease the Hammers'
relegation fears. The Senegal international scored a brilliant long-range
effort just before half-time to bring to an end a dreadful recent run of
five straight Premier League defeats. As a result, the Hammers have moved up
to 14th in the table, eight points from the drop zone, while Swansea - who
were toothless in attack all afternoon - remain two points from safety after
a fifth away defeat in a row. West Ham had Michail Antonio available after
the forward was forced off against Arsenal due to illness. However, Andy
Carroll was only fit enough for a place on the bench after also having to be
substituted early in their midweek loss at the Emirates, with Robert
Snodgrass replacing the striker in the Hammers' only change. The home side,
though, were still without the likes of first-team regulars Aaron Cresswell,
Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna and Pedro Obiang due to injury. Meanwhile,
Swansea had top scorer Fernando Llorente back on the substitutes' bench
after recovering from a recent ankle problem, and right-back Kyle Naughton
was passed fit to play after injuring his hamstring in Wednesday's 3-1 loss
to Tottenham Hotspur. And the visitors - who were unchanged from midweek -
were also boosted by the news that No 1 Lukasz Fabianski, who took a heavy
knock in that defeat, could start in goal. Not surprisingly, with so much at
stake in the game, both sides made a cagey start to proceedings in the
sunshine with neither 'keeper tested in the opening quarter of an hour.
Gradually, though, the Hammers grew in confidence and came close to opening
the scoring after 20 minutes. However, after Antonio had done well to work
some space in the box and swing a cross to the far post, Fabianski was alert
on his goal-line to keep out Snodgrass' close-range header. The Poland
international then had to be equally agile to keep out Andre Ayew's
well-struck shot on the half-hour mark as West Ham started to increase the
pressure on their opponents. And that pressure did finally tell in the last
minute of the half as West Ham broke the deadlock thanks to Kouyate's first
Premier League goal of the season, and what a strike it was too.

The midfielder played a neat one-two with Snodgrass, before collecting his
return pass, striding forward and thumping an unstoppable 25-yard effort
past a helpless Fabianski. Swansea manager Paul Clement reacted to that
setback by bringing on both Luciano Narsingh and Llorente at the break to
beef up the visitors' attacking options, but to little effect. If there was
any team, though, who looked like scoring in the second half, then it was
West Ham, who shook off the loss of key forward Antonio to a hamstring
injury five minutes before the break to test Fabianski on several occasions.
However, the Swans' keeper was at his agile best to twice deny Ayew late on
as West Ham recorded just a second home win in the league in their last
seven games.

Player ratings

West Ham: Randolph (6), Byram (6), Fonte (8), Collins (7), Masuaku (6),
Kouyate (7), Noble (7), Antonio (7), Lanzini (9), Snodgrass (6), Ayew (7)
Subs used: Feghouli (7), Calleri (7), Fernandes (6)

Swansea: Fabianski (8), Naughton (6), Mawson (6), Fernandez (7), Olsson (6),
Fer (7), Cork (6), Carroll (6), Sigurdsson (7), Ayew (6), Routledge (7)
Subs used: Montero (7), Narsingh (7), Llorente (6)

Man of the Match: Manuel Lanzini

West Ham 1-0 Swansea: Cheikhou Kouyate gets Slaven Bilic's men out of
trouble - 5 things we learned
Cheikhou Kouyate's fantastic 44th minute strike eased the pressure on boss
Slaven Bilic to gift West Ham a vital win
The Mirror
16:52, 8 APR 2017UPDATED17:08, 8 APR 2017

Cheikhou Kouyate produced a first-half screamer to ease the pressure on West
Ham and boss Slaven Bilic. The Hammers midfielder's brilliant strike
settled this scrappy, low quality affair and earned Bilic's men three
crucial points to move them eight clear of danger. Kouyate let fly from 20
yards after Mark Noble and Robert Snodgrass combined to open up Swansea and
create the shooting chance. Swansea failed to find a response, despite an
improved second half performance, and remain third bottom after their
winless run extended to five games.

Here are five things we learned...

1) Antonio injury headache

As if Slaven Bilic needed any problems, he suffered another headache before
the game even reached half-time. He fielded Michail Antonio up front as
Andy Carroll wasn't quite fit enough to start. But Antonio lasted just 40
minutes after suffering another hamstring injury, having been forced to
withdraw from the last England squad due to the same problem.

2) Highlights won't take long

If it wasn't for Cheikhou Kouyate's goal, the Match of the Day team would be
struggling to make a highlights package out of this one. Kouyate's goal was
the one moment of quality and totally out of keeping with the rest of the
game. He hammered in a 20-yarder after some neat build-up involving Mark
Noble and Robert Snodgrass. Other than that, you would never have known
both sides desperately needed points in their respective situations. There
was little urgency throughout.
West Ham admittedly won't care as that one moment earned them a big three
points to end their run of five straight defeats and ease their fears about
being sucked into the relegation battle.

3) Battle of the Ayew brothers

This was a better day for West Ham's Andre Ayew than his brother, Swansea
forward Jordan. Firstly West Ham went home with the points. Secondly Andre
produced a much more effective performance and was only a decent Lukasz
Fabianski save away from wrapping up all three points late on. His running
caused Swansea plenty of problems. Too often Jordan ended up running down
blind alleys, taking too long and the ball and wasting too many
opportunities from promising positions.

4) Swansea in trouble

After an initial upturn in form, Swansea are right back in trouble. They won
five out of their first eight league games following Paul Clement's
appointment in January. But they have failed to win any of their last five,
losing four and have been dragged right back into danger. Clement's midas
touch has disappeared and he needs to rediscover it before it is too late.

5) Cork pops for Swans

Losing Jack Cork won't help on that front. That was a big blow Swansea and
Paul Clement could have done without too. Captain Jack Cork hobbled off
midway during the second half after rolling his right ankle on landing after
going up for a header. He is a key cog in the Swansea midfield and team so
being without him for any significant period of time will be a huge setback
in their bid to beat the drop.


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