Both these sides will be happy with their Premier League positioning going into this clash with Swansea City standing in ninth and West Ham in seventh. Capitalising on the inconsistent form from sides like Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool, West Ham and Swansea have consolidated deserved top half placings at the turn of the year with 2015 promising much more if the two clubs can hold onto their key men. Both of these sides have used exciting attackers and creative midfielders to great effect this term and both have bought very well in the recent summer transfer window with Gylfi Sigurddson and Diafra Sakho two of the best examples of their clever business. Swansea will be looking to build on their draw with QPR after a heavy defeat to Liverpool left them needing a moment of reflection whilst West Ham are searching for any kind of win after three games without victory.
Pacey attacker Jefferson Montero is Garry Monk’s only injury worry as he struggles to overcome his hamstring injury. However, more troubling will be the gossip surrounding star striker Wilfried Bony who is apparently on the cusp of a £30m transfer to league champions, Manchester City – watch this space.
Manager Sam Allardyce has just two members of his squad potentially sidelined with Alex Song suffering from illness this week whilst Diafra Sakho has a back injury.
- Swansea City have dropped the most points from winning positions this season with 16. The last of those points came in the reverse of this fixture in December.
- West Ham United have scored the most headed goals in the Premier League this season – 14.
- Swansea have received the most red cards in the Premier League this season – 5.
- Sam Allardyce’s side have kept just one clean sheet in their last seven league games.
- West Ham have had 13 different scorers this season – the joint highest in the top division alongside Chelsea.
Gylfi Sigurdsson has proved to be one of the signings of the season for Swansea City. The Icelandic international has rediscovered some of his star appeal after a poor spell at Tottenham Hotspur. Sigurdsson has certainly rediscovered some of his creative form with spectacular goals and important assists becoming a regular occurrence.
Sigurdsson is a very good all round attacker and this shows in his ability to take-on the opposition. So far this season, the Iceland man has completed 19 of his 39 attempted take-ons making him one of the country’s best dribblers despite not possessing blinding pace.
Sigurdsson combines his skill with his acute technical brain to create numerous imaginative chances per game. The former Spurs man has created 48 chances so far this term with eight assists coming from those chances. Sigurdsson’s 86% passing accuracy certainly helps with his creativity with passes rarely misplaced.
However, something I’d like to see from Sigurdsson is a little bit more strength and bravery. I think a little bit more of those two things could see Swansea’s main creator go up to the next level. I say this because so far in this campaign, Sigurdsson has won just five of his 28 headed duels as well as just 12 of his 59 attempted tackles. Granted, tackling is not the cornerstone skill on which creative midfielders build their reputations but an increase here could really help him.
West Ham’s creator-in-chief is England international Stewart Downing. The reassembling of Downing’s reputation has also seen a sharp rise since a low budget move from a “bigger” club. After underperforming at Liverpool, Downing was snapped up by Sam Allardyce 18 months ago – and a good signing he has turned out to be. Having moved into the middle of the pitch to play as a number 10 rather than as a winger, Downing has gone from strength to strength this season with a string of good performances helping to lift West Ham into a top four battle. Like Sigurdsson for Swansea, Downing is the focal point of the Hammers attack and as such his stats are easily comparable.
In this campaign, Downing actually scores lower than Sigurdsson when it comes to his percentage of take-ons proving successful. The England man currently sits on 38.71% whilst Sigurdsson stands at 48.72% – surprising considering Downing’s career up until recently has seen him play as a winger on either side. However, Downing appears the more creative of the two with the former Liverpool player creating 54 chances so far this season with an average of 2.87 per 90 minutes played (p90). Sigurdsson is just behind that total with 48 chances created at 2.71 p90. Both players post identical passing accuracy percentages which isn’t a surprise considering they’re both in great form in similar areas of the pitch. Perhaps Sigurdsson creates the more open chances however, with the Iceland man creating eight assists to Downing’s six. However, Downing roars back with a far stronger total duels percentage of 46.59% – a figure which includes take-ons, tackles, headed duels and fouls.
Either of these two could easily win the game for their side this Saturday so get them in your fantasy teams!
With both these sides flying high I can see this being a tighter and more tense affair than usual so I’m going for a 1-1 draw. Swansea will be missing Wilfried Bony whilst West Ham should also be missing Diafra Sakho so both sides are slightly blunted up top.