Andy Carroll scored twice to help West Ham move up to third in the Premier League with an impressive 3-1 victory over Swansea City on Sunday.
The Hammers, who have now won three matches in the space of eight days, leapfrogged both Manchester United and Southampton in the league standings, with the two sides playing each other tonight.
Carroll was the hero as he scored either side of half-time to turn the game around following Wilfried Bony’s opener, before Diafra Sakho announced his return from injury with a late strike to seal the points.
Here we take a look at five things we learned from the win.
1. CARROLL’S BACK IN BUSINESS
It may have taken the towering no.9 a few games to find his form following injury, but it was worth the wait. Swansea defenders will have nightmares of facing Carroll – he now has three goals and three assists in three matches against them.
His double and assist on Sunday though couldn’t have come at a better time for Sam Allardyce’s outfit. It was the Englishman’s first goals since March and they helped the side to an important victory over a good Swansea side.
Both of Carroll’s goals were thumping headers, unsurprisingly, seven of his last 11 league goals have come via his head and Allardyce will be hoping he can now get on a goalscoring run.
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2. FULL-BACK CONTRIBUTION VITAL
Aaron Cresswell and Carl Jenkinson both had another fantastic game and the latter’s delivery for Carroll’s equaliser was superb.
They were up against it at times with Wayne Routledge and Jefferson Montero pinning them back with their pace but, although Jenkinson may have been at fault for Swansea’s opener, on the whole they dealt with them well.
Their contribution going forward was vital throughout the match and they continued to bomb on and get crosses in despite the threat Swansea possessed on the counter, which reflects just how much belief and confidence they have at present.
West Ham have scored 12 headed goals in the Premier League this season; twice as many as any other side (Everton, six), only Atletico Madrid (15) have scored more headed goals in Europe’s top five leagues than the Hammers – this is primarily down to the full-backs and Stewart Downing, who also claimed another assist; his sixth of the campaign.
3. SAKHO HUGELY INFLUENTIAL
West Ham’s top scorer made his return from injury in emphatic fashion. The Senegalese front man came on at half-time for the labouring Enner Valencia and had an immediate effect on the side’s performance.
His goal late on made it seven in his last eight Premier League appearances and he could well have helped himself to a hat-trick against Garry Monk’s men as he hit the post twice. His pace, endeavour and strength proved a real handful for Swansea.
4. STRIKE PARTNERSHIP CAN BLOSSOM
Valencia may not have been fully fit based on his display and he failed to link up with Carroll in the first period. However, the introduction of Sakho made the Irons much more of a threat as he and Carroll combined brilliantly at times.
Carroll’s flick-on from a long punt downfield by Adrian released Sakho, who skipped past a couple of challenges before smashing the ball into the back of the net. The pair of them proved too much for Swansea to handle and they both could have had three goals apiece. This is a partnership that we can expect to see more of in the coming weeks.
5. SONG RETURN A BIG BOOST
Alex Song was another who returned from injury and his influence was huge; he commanded the midfield and orchestrated West Ham’s attacks.
He not only provided a great shield to the defence but his service from the middle of the park into the strikers was of the highest quality. Allardyce heaped praise on the former Gunner after the match and he will hope he can remain fit going into their busy Christmas period.