|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
The Observer datePublished Saturday 10 January 2015
West Ham’s Andy Carroll haunts Swansea again but it finishes all square
Joe Lovejoy at the Liberty Stadium
Garry Monk calls him the most powerful forward in the Premier League. No, not his own (for the time being) Wilfried Bony but Andy Carroll, who has scored four goals this season – three of them against Swansea.
Carroll, whose England days may not be gone for ever on this evidence, struck twice when West Ham won 3-1 in the corresponding fixture at Upton Park five weeks ago and embarrassed the Welsh club’s defence again for what looked like a high-class matchwinner until Mark Noble’s inadvertent late equaliser past his own goalkeeper.
While Carroll is back to something like the form that won him international recognition – “he has supremacy over everyone” Monk says – Swansea’s own human wrecking ball, Bony, is away on Africa Cup of Nations duty and his replacement, Bafétimbi Gomis, has one goal to show for 18 Premier League appearances and is still a work in progress.
That said, it was the Frenchman’s header from which Noble nudged the ball into his own net. Monk insisted Gomis deserved to be credited with the goal – “he covered every blade of grass, I think” – and applauded his gesture in grabbing a French tricolour from the touchline and waving it to the heavens in solidarity with those who lost their lives in Paris. “Trust me, Bafe is a top striker”, Monk said.
Bony was not the only notable absentee. The Swans were also without Ki Sung-yueng, Jonjo Shelvey and Jefferson Montero, for various reasons, while West Ham had their leading scorer, Diafra Sakho, injured and Cheikhou Kouyaté on international duty with Senegal.
It was West Ham who coped best with their losses. Deployed in wing-back formation, they effectively stymied Swansea’s close passing style. Two good teams cancelled one another out until the 43rd minute, when Carroll accepted Stewart Downing’s left-wing cross and jockeyed room for himself on the 18-yard line to shoot across Lukasz Fabianski and into the keeper’s left corner. The goal was a delightful piece of technique but dire from a defensive viewpoint. Carroll, who has now scored seven times against the Swans, held off Ashley Williams to win the ball with his chest, brushed aside a half-hearted challenge by his namesake, Tom Carroll, then turned Federico Fernández before getting his shot away.
In extremis, Monk took off both his wingers. Playing at a higher tempo, Swansea did improve for a time, but James Collins should have doubled the margin when he headed wide of the far post before the equaliser.
In the 74th minute Sigurdsson’s corner from the left was met at the near post by Gomis, whose twisting header hit the far upright and bounced down against Noble, whose involuntary contact deflected the ball in.
West Ham put in a strong finish, Carl Jenkinson demanding a notable save from Fabianski from distance, Neil Taylor clearing off the line from James Tomkins and Carroll miscuing at close range at the death.
Sam Allardyce, who has a chest infection, was not at the match but was in touch throughout with his assistant, Neil McDonald, who thought the Hammers deserved to win. “We created some really good chances and Andy scored a fantastic goal,” he said. “We kept Swansea at arm’s length, shooting from distance. We stifled their space and used the energy of our wing-backs to get forward. I thought the tactics worked really well. Over the two games we’ve taken four points off a good team.”
Monk had a different view. He said: “It was a hard game physically – West Ham always make it that. They scored against the run of play. It was a fantastic goal, a great strike, but we gave Carroll too much space. We knew he wanted to shoot with his left foot and should have shown him on to his right and closed that gap. I made the substitutions to give us more of a cutting edge and we managed to get a well-deserved goal.”