TALKING TACTICS: West Ham v Swans
7th May 2016
Ahead of Saturday's Premier League trip to West Ham United, the official website has teamed up with football stats experts WhoScored.com to preview the encounter at Upton Park.
Confidence is high among the players following the impressive 3-1 win over Liverpool last weekend and the Swans will look to take that into the tough trip to east London. The previous two meetings between the pair have resulted in a draw, with Swansea hoping to turn that one point into three and make it back-to-back Premier League wins.
With Francesco Guidolin facing something of a minor injury crisis in the final third, much of the attacking onus will fall on Andre Ayew. The Ghanaian bagged a brace against Liverpool to bring to an end a nine-match goal drought and take his total to 10 in the Premier League for the season.
The summer arrival was a constant thorn in Liverpool's side over the 90 minutes, with Ayew gaining a WhoScored.com rating of 8.59, enough to earn the man of the match award. Furthermore, his showing against the Merseysiders was his best rated in England's top tier this term as he looks to end the campaign on a high note.
Set to start up front again for Swansea, Ayew's unpredictability will further aid the Swans' pursuit of all three points. While Premier League safety is guaranteed, the club still harbours aspirations of a top-half finish and a win at Upton Park in the penultimate game of the season would go a long way to helping achieve that goal.
Given West Ham have conceded a disappointing 20 goals from 17 league games at Upton Park this season, the Hammers are clearly prone to shipping on home turf. Having committed more errors that have led to an opposition goal at home (7) than any other team in the Premier League this season, the Hammers' lack of concentration can be exploited by Ayew, who is a commendable performer both with the ball at his feet and in the air.
With Ayew expected to spearhead the attack on Saturday, and given his tendency to drift to the right, he's going to have to get the better of Angelo Ogbonna if he is to enjoy success at Upton Park. Like Ayew, Ogbonna moved to the Premier League in the summer and having initially struggled to secure regular first team action, has since become a key member of Slaven Bilic's side alongside Winston Reid at the heart of the defence.
One of the Italian centre-back's best qualities is his ability to play the ball out from the back, though with Ogbonna favouring a more measured approach to clearing the defensive ranks, this presents Ayew with the chance to capitalise on the Hammers' disappointing concentration levels. The Swansea forward has developed a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'tackling' and if Ayew can apply sufficient pressure on Ogbonna and his West Ham teammates, this will present Swansea with ample goalscoring chances.
Ayew proved once more how lethal a finisher he can be on his day last week and if he can churn out a similar performance to the one seen at the Liberty Stadium against Liverpool, it's certainly possible for Swansea to come away from their final away game of the campaign with maximum points.
*WhoScored.com is a unique website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Provided with unique stats, they compile and create comprehensive analysis on the major European divisions, including live match stats and player ratings. You can follow @WhoScored and their editorial assistant Ben McAleer on Twitter.