Swansea City 4 West Ham United 1
Saturday, 3rd March 2018
by East Stand Martin
First of all, a thank you to the mass media for spreading widespread fear about the snow and ice. Never seen such quiet roads. Oxford Fred wasn't convinced early doors after I said the road trip was on. "Mad bastards", he said.Straight over to Oxford then to meet up with Fred and a lift in the Bombermobile to sheepshagging central. It's like the Batmobile but runs on alcoholic fumes expertly provided by ESM Jnr who crashed in at 4.45 am loudly proclaiming that the 7.45 am start was "not a problem".
Whilst knocking up a quick cup of tea, Fred pointed to the Hammer of the Month for March on his West Ham calendar hanging in his kitchen. Yep, it was Andre Ayew. It was then that I knew we were f*cked.
Fresh back from last night's Stereophonics gig, Bomber was blaring out some hard rock mob called Royal Blood. Luckily, I had my earphones to hand to drown out the cacophony. Call me old fashioned, but I'm Old School soul and funk.
Which brings me nicely to that classic McFadden & Whitehead tune. Ain't no stopping us now said the Real West Ham Fans' Group, the revolution is coming. Except when you drop sharply and unexpectedly into reverse gear like an Italian tank.
Talking of Italians, and an Italian Marxist at that, Antonio Gramsci once said, "The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born". Real's revolution was strangled at birth. Talk about the Grand Old Duke of Stratford marching the troops to the top of the hill but not marching them down.
In the Bombermobile, the discussion turned to notable acts of treachery in Irons' history. Joey Beauchamp. Manny Omoyinmi. Judas Ince. The Dwarf. Fat Frank. The Snake.
A moving letter
As I said the other day, I like Karren's letter. In fact, I've framed it. It hangs in my khazi as a tribute to all the turds I'm going to drop. Whenever I get constipated, I can read that inspiring line, "You agreed that the march would not be anti-board". Pure syrup of figs in a sentence. I defy anyone's bowels from being unmoved reading that.
Anyway, enough on the march. Swansea. Now, the Harvester there ain't like the one in Stoke, that's for sure. 20 tables free and an hour and a half wait. How does that work? So luckily, Mickey spotted this place called Rossi's opposite the ground. We are talking Champions League fish and chips or home-made steak pie. Proper nosh. ??8.50 for fish, chips, mushy peas, bread and butter and a cup of tea. I recommend it although bring a translator. It's like Gavin and Stacey on steroids in there.
I had a little chat with a programme seller on the way in and to make polite conversation, I asked him why there was zero snow on the ground. "It's because we're good people here" he said. "Not like them c*nts in Cardiff, they've had a blizzard."
To the game, and we were positioned in the front row behind the goal. On 4 minutes Arnie was pushed over but the ref was not interested. Two minutes later Noble won a corner after long ball forward. The corner was not immediately cleared by Swansea, but the move came to nothing.
On 8 minutes, a poor nervy clearance by Adrian from a back pass nearly created a problem. Immediately after, the ball got moved across the centre of our midfield and a pass laid off by Andre Ayew to Ki, who stepped away from Lanzini. He had way too much space and sent a grasscutter shot right in bottom left corner of our goal. Adrian maybe should have done better.
On the quarter hour we gave the ball away then Noble conceded a free kick, taking out Ki. The free kick went high to the far post to Mawson, and Adrian had to be alert to save low. From the corner it was an absolute shambles as Kouyate headed right into the danger zone with Adrian seeming to hesitate picking ball up. Somehow the ball didn't get stuck in the net with Rice in the way on the line.
Down and out
Reid had gone down in a heap out cold and while he was down Andre Ayew said something with caused a row. Reid was motionless for the best part of ten minutes and was eventually stretchered off.
On 27 minutes the corner that had resulted from before the injury to Reid was finally taken. Byram came on for Reid, where personally I would have moved Kouyate into central defence and brought Antonio on. There was a good headed clearance by Evra.
On 31minutes, Andre Ayew was set free down our left, cut into box and shot powerfully. It was a good save by Adrian. Then a corner followed a minute later with a free header at back post for Van der Hoorn after the ball was floated over the head of Byram and Rice lost his man. Swansea just wanted more want by some distance.
West Ham's hapless display was exemplified on 45 minutes when a simple pass could not be made by Zabaletta.
In the ten minutes added time, Kouyate couldn't control the ball again and gave it away cheaply to Ki to allow him a shot which sailed over the bar.
More mistakes followed. Arnie lost the ball but chased down to make a good tackle. It was one of the few instances where a player in claret and blue showed some desire. Just after Kouyate gave a ball away again and allowed a Swansea counter attack.
The half ended and we all knew it was an abject performance. We simply did not compete. It was undoubtedly the worst performance in a half I've seen this season.
Time for change, but no change came
Things had to change for the second half and the manager introduced Antonio for Evra. Clearly some kind of a a rocket had been put up the team during the half time break and we did chase much harder. from the re-start.
On 46 minutes, a good move saw a lay off by Chicharito, but Arnie found himself offside.
Then the start out of the blocks was rendered useless as we conceded a third goal which effectively ended the game. We were slightly unlucky to give away a corner but our inability to defend set pieces was exposed again after Andre Ayew beat Antonio to a header to it t e target. It was a good block by Adrian but the ball rebounded out to King who couldn't miss in front of goal.
On 50 minutes, Antonio did well battling for the ball, but his cross was overhit. We began to look a bit better with two corners in row, but Antonio conceded possession on the edge of the Swansea box , allowing a break
The most promising West Ham move in the match followed on 57 minutes after a great move and pass to Arnie's feet in the box. He dragged it back to try and fox the defenders but maybe tried to be over clever and just chipped into Fabianski's hands. He should have scored.
Then on 62 minutes, Andre Ayew showed the battling spirit we lacked down right and won a penalty after a good block of a goal-bound shot by Zabaletta saw Kouyate blunder in with a mistimed tackle. It was easy for Jordan Ayew who sent Adrian the wrong way.
This was a horror show and the blunders continued. On 68 minutes Byram gave the ball away allowing a shot on goal and then on 74 minutes Kouyate lost the ball for what felt like the 10th time in the match.
0-4 down, we won a rare free kick down the left in the 78th minute. It was a good delivery in by Cresswell and nice take down by Antonio who spun in very little space to hit a hard, low shot past the outstretched hand of Fabianski. Once again it was Antonio that made something happen when the game was lost.
The game petered out after this with West Ham still trying to make things happen with little end result.
Overall this was a totally unacceptable performance from West Ham, not helped by the loss of Winston Reid and the no show of Ogbonna. The defence looked makeshift, dare I say Championship standard. I lost count of the number of missed passes and cheap losses of possession.
It was a bit like the trip to Brighton, the desire and will to win was all with the home team, we don't seem to appreciate the precariousness of our Premier League status. Our run in is one of the worst amongst the relegation threatened teams. Someone needs to give the team a reality check.
Fair play to Swansea, they added a 7th consecutive home win. They have turned themselves around from basket case. It was a bad time to play them, but that does not excuse our clueless and diabolical attempt at playing some semblance of professional level football.
No man of the match award
Chicharito's body language was dreadful and Lanzini was not at the races. Kouyate was simply awful and Mark Noble looked totally pedestrian. Arnie came down to the away fans at the end and we overheard him apologise for the performance. Although he was at fault for the second goal, the only player that looked half composed out there today was Declan Rice. This guy oozes calmness under pressure.
Sam Byram, I'm afraid does not look like a Premier League player and Cresswell simply does not fill me with confidence in defensive terms although he can deliver a good cross. Antonio brought a bit of momentum to the team when he came on and I think he needs to start.
We now return to the London Stadium after two fruitless weeks on the road with one of those must win games. This is not going to be an easy game against a well organised Burnley, but the pressure is on big time. Everybody, and I mean everybody, has got to step up to the mark as this waste of a football match has dropped us into a highly perilous situation. We need to see some character not a bunch of surrender monkeys.
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Player RatingsAdrian San Miguel Del Castillo
Made some good, albeit comfortable saves. Tremendous distribution all afternoon and expertly covered for his defence with balls in behind.
Very lively all afternoon in attack and in defence. Much more comfortable as a wing back as opposed to a central midfield role that he has been playing in recent games.
Was allowed some freedom to go forward despite his position as a centre-back. Carried out a more defensive role in the second half.
Partnered up decently with Collins and Cresswell. Very composed on the ball when pressured.
Kept tabs on the Watford attacking three very well, in spite of not matching them in speed.
Significantly lacked pace going forward and wasn't too convincing in defence either.
Recovered well following his poor performance the week before. A force to be dealt with going forward and a sturdy figure in defence.
Played an important part in West Ham's atacking spree in the first half, but gradually fell away as they sat back in the second half.
Terrorised Daryl Janmaat down the left with his sheer pace and strength, despite being in an unfavoured wing-back position.
Had the opposing defence on their toes. Full of confidence and very able to beat a player. Made up for his poor miss in the first half with a goal in the second.
Excellent work rate coming up trumps with the goal to give his side the lead. Good to see him enjoying his football again following the uncertainty about his future at the Club.
(Replaced Mario) Didn't pose the same threat as Antonio and was very isolated up front.
(Replaced Arnautovic) Saw the game out for a little more first team experience.
(Replaced Hernandez) Ran his socks off in his brief spell on the field, proving a point to the manager and to the fans who appreciated the effort.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo, Pablo Zabaleta, Aaron Cresswell, Angelo Ogbonna, James Collins, Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate, Joao Mario, Michail Antonio, Marko Arnautovic, Javier Hernandez.
Goals: Javier Hernandez 38 Marko Arnautovic 78 .
Booked: Pablo Zabaleta .
Sent off: None.
Swansea City: .
Subs not used: .
Sent off: None.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
Man of the Match: Mark Noble.