West Ham 1 – 0 Swansea City
Kouyate (44’)

“That’s our biggest win in a few years.” Mark Noble wasn’t exaggerating after the Hammers beat Swansea by a single goal. The collective sigh of relief after the final whistle could be heard around the London Stadium. We are now eight points clear of Swansea, who are now in a desperate position just two points adrift of Hull and in torrid form.

Despite the pressure on the Irons, the home team started brightly. Ayew and Antonio were causing problems with their pace going forward, but Swansea were determined not to concede an early goal. The Swans sat and let the Hammers have the majority of the ball. Despite one or two shouts for fouls in and around the Swansea box, the Irons failed to carve out any clear-cut chances.

Lanzini was instrumental in the teams build up play throughout the fixture and in the 15th minute, Lanzini drove towards the Swansea defense and was bundled over outside the box. It was a perfect position for the Argentine but he only managed to skim the roof of the net. Four minutes later Antonio created the best chance of the game, crossing to the back post to Snodgrass, who headed on target but Fabianski managed to hold the ball on the line. Not long after, Lanzini carved out another chance but his shot from distance went over the bar.

Around the 25th minute, the tempo and early pressure from West Ham began to drop, allowing Swansea to grow into the game. After a few chances for the Welsh side, the mood began to drop inside the stadium. Antonio limped off holding his hamstring (probably another 6 weeks out), and Calleri came on, causing a bit of confusion and restlessness.

Just as things seemed to be going the other way, Kouyate stepped up. Snodgrass flicked the ball to the midfielder who managed to find a bit of space and hit the ball hard and low into the bottom corner. Fabianski had been fantastic in goal for Swansea but didn’t stand much of a chance getting to that one. Kouyate took no time in celebrating with the fans as the London Stadium exploded with joy and relief. It was just before half time; exactly what the team needed in this vital relegation battle.

My half time mood was confident. However, both with my dad and brother agreed an early second goal would be vital. Otherwise, it would be a very long second half.

Llorente and Narsingh came on at half time as Clement aimed to change the shape of the Swansea team but the second half started much the same as the first. In fact, Swansea only managed one shot on target all game. That’s not to say that we weren’t worried. The game was cagey and not pretty at times but the Hammers showed grit and determination in defense. Collins was outstanding at the back and despite his lack of pace, defended impeccably and marshalled Llorente effectively. West Ham looked the more likely to score despite the Swansea possession. Feghouli replaced Snodgrass and Fernandes replaced Ayew. Chances were few and far between for both sides but West Ham had the better of the chances. Both Calleri and Ayew should have scored with Byram going close but in the end, West Ham saw out a tense few last minutes.

The determination and passion that had been missing in the past few weeks was clear to see. A vital last minute block from Byram in the dying minutes of extra time warranted jubilation by Noble and Randolph, grabbing hold of the young right back. As the final whistle went, a massive sigh of relief was let out around the stadium. Both Collins and Bilic celebrated dramatically, as I’m Forever Bubbles rang out around the London Stadium. This wasn’t a pretty win but a vital one. Now eight points clear, the Hammers once again have a bit of breathing space. I for one headed to the bar – it’s not often you get to celebrate a West Ham win this season!

Player Ratings:

Randolph – 7
Didn’t have much to do but was solid when called upon. Distributed the ball well from the back.

Byram – 6
There was mixed opinion around me on Byram. I think at times he looked panicked, slow in decision making at the back and often targeted with the long ball. However, many people thought he played well and to be fair he has improved recently.

Collins – 9 ★
My man of the match. Absolutely solid at the back and dealt well with any aerial threats by the Swans. His pace let him down on occasion but you can’t really blame the 33-year old. His passion at the final whistle showed what this result meant to him.

Fonte – 7
Played relatively well and got on with his role quietly and effectively. First clean sheet for him at West Ham and looked more comfortable against a poor Swansea attack.

Masuaku – 7
I would have given Masuaku an 8 but he regularly frustrated me giving away unnecessary corners. Otherwise, it was a solid performance and is likely to keep Cresswell out the side if he continues like that.

Noble – 7
Solid performance and got stuck in in the midfield. His passion was clear on the pitch and lead the team well.

Kouyate – 8
Solid performance topped with a fantastic goal. Regularly checking around to keep the formation tight and broke up play with some great tackles

Lanzini – 8.5
Fantastic once again. Much like a quarterback, Lanzini orchestrated much of the Hammers build up play. Regularly moved to create space and caused Swansea a lot of problems.

Antonio – 6.5
Played well until his injury. Caused problems for Swansea with his pace and power. Unlucky not to get a penalty early on. Perhaps rushed back a bit too soon.

Snodgrass – 6
Started slowly and had a poor first half. Poor deliveries and slow decision making slowed the attack but grew into the game second half. Provided the assist for Kouyate

Ayew – 8
Again got very mixed reviews from the fans around me. I felt he had a fantastic game. He provided a solid work rate throughout and regularly caused problems for Swansea with his pace. Unlucky not score, twice denied by great saves.

Calleri – 6
Provided some sparks of creativity but looked short of confidence. Often expected to be a target man and as a result went missing at times.

Feghouli – 6
Looked lively and got involved but didn’t create too much. Often lacking communication with Ayew and Calleri.

Fernandes – 6
Didn’t have much impact on the game but still managed to provide a few tackles in the midfield and helped see out the win.

Bilic – 7
Often made a few questionable substitutions but got the win so I can’t complain! Made the sensible choice to play Fernandes over Carroll towards the end.