The Runner Sports

Early Season Crunch Time: West Ham vs. Swansea

It’s only the second month of the Premier League being back and yet again West Ham United are faced with crucial matches early in their season. The upcoming match, Swansea at the London Stadium, is more crunch time for manager Slaven Bilic than it is for the club. Bilic is in more hot water after a loss to London rivals Tottenham Hotspur when he abandoned his functional team formation when Michail Antonio pulled up with an injury in the match. Bilic needs to show off his West Ham attack and move away from a five-at-the-back formation in home matches against non-elite competition like Swansea. Facts are facts, and teams are teams; West Ham on paper is the better side and if they fail to convert three points on Saturday, Bilic will be lucky to escape September at the club.

Swansea, by all estimations, will be clinging to their Premier League lives at the end of this season after losing striker Fernando Llorente to Tottenham and losing midfield maestro and playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson to Everton this past transfer window. Those players, Sigurdsson mainly, provided what offense the Swans had last season and without them, the team is relying on supplementary players to step up and lead the line. Jordan Ayew, West Ham United’s Andre Ayew’s younger brother, has been their predominant forward this season, alongside youngster Tammy Abraham who has scored twice this season in the Premier League and once in the EFL Cup. West Ham shouldn’t need a back five to shut down this attack, which opens up attacking options that make a Hammers’ supporter salivate.

Michail Antonio is back and fit for this game which should increase West Ham’s offensive production. As well, Manuel Lanzini is back with the team for this match. He is likely to be on the bench and may only grab a few minutes in the game as a substitution, nevertheless, it is a boost to team morale to have the squad’s best player back.

Striker at West Ham, a position rarely not in the team news, is yet again a toss-up for this match. Javier Hernandez has been terrific in his games played in the middle, however, Andy Carroll has a history of performance against Swansea. This decision could be made for the team as Hernandez is set for a fitness test before the game. If he is fit, Bilic has the opportunity to play four at the back and two strikers up top in an all-out attacking formation. A formation fans have been asking for since the signing of Hernandez was announced.

Overall, despite the pressure being on Bilic to provide a win for his team, the players need to step up here. Their manager is in hot water because he is supposedly mismanaging terrific players, and in a very winnable match as this is, those terrific players need to announce themselves. The biggest challenge for West Ham will be not allowing the mounting pressure to negatively influence their team play. If that does not happen there is no reason West Ham should not secure all three points in these early yet crucial match.

Adam Smith
Follow me!

Adam Smith

West Ham United Writer at The Runner Sports
Proud supporter of the Claret and Blue, West Ham United!
Actively interested in transfer news, match reports, developing story lines, and all things West Ham United!
Adam Smith
Follow me!