Swansea stay in bottom three after Hammers stalemate
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | December 20, 2015
Swansea City 0-0 West Ham United
- Swans kicked off and remain in bottom three
- Hammers stay five points off fourth place
- No sign of Monk successor being named
- Third straight no score draw for Bilic’s boys
Honours even in Liberty Stadium stalemate
West Ham United consigned managerless Swansea City to a place in the Premier League relegation zone at Christmas by holding them at the Liberty Stadium.
Slaven Bilic’s team travelled along the M4 and proved content with a third successive 0-0, which keeps them in sight of the top six and the fourth Champions League place at some five points behind.
Swans caretaker Alan Curtis – in a departure from their orthodox three in the engine room setup – set the hosts up with a midfield diamond and Andre Ayew pushed up right alongside Bafetimbi Gomis.
Doing something unexpected brought a response out of Swansea, with the Ghana international just over-hitting a through-ball to his strike partner. Ki Sung-Yueng drew a low, near-post stop from Adrian as the home team had more purpose in the opening half-hour and dominated possession.
West Ham struggle to shake off lethargy
The Hammers grew into this game, however, with Mauro Zarate forcing Lukasz Fabianski to tip around his near post from a tight angle.
Ayew lashed narrowly wide wen teed up by Ki’s header and a drag into his path from Gomis, as the hosts retained plenty of attacking endeavour. This contest remained finely poised at half-time.
A slow-burning second 45 burst into life on the hour when Jack Cork cracked a 25-yard volley goalwards and Adrian had to be at full-stretch to keep this effort out.
Controversy Ki to this game
Ki’s lovely one-two with Gylfi Sigurdsson saw the South Korean have a goalbound shot blocked behind by the trailing hand of West Ham defender James Collins, but referee Lee Mason waved away mass appeals from Swansea players.
Adrian helped Hammers sub Enner Valencia’s effort on its way over the bar as the visitors sought a late winner. None was forthcoming for either side, however, and a no score draw leaves the Swans two points from Premier League safety.
Home team chairman Huw Jenkins may find the festive period a tough one in which to recruit a new head coach to succeed Garry Monk, but ex-Argentina and Marseille manager Marcelo Bielsa remains Coral’s 9/4 favourite for the Swansea role. He was previously odds-on.
Both sides missing something
Getting just two of 20 shots on target shows how the Swans lacked teeth here with Gomis and Ayew unable to capitalise on decent service. West Ham frontman Nikica Jelavic, in for the injured Andy Carroll, proved a peripheral figure in this fixture as they lacked final third quality.
This is certainly a better point for the Hammers. Could the crest of that Swansea wave finally have broken after a decade-long resurgence with relegation now a real danger for whoever takes them on?