West Ham United travel to Swansea City on Saturday looking to get back to winnings ways, but they could have their work cut out with several key figures missing.
The Hammers have won just once in their last five matches in all competitions and manager Sam Allardyce will be keen to take home three precious points from the Liberty Stadium
Garry Monk's side have the joint-fourth best home record in the Premier League, so it will be no easy feat.
Team news - Star strikers miss out
Diafra Sakho, who did not travel to the Africa Cup of Nations, is out with a back injury. Swansea meanwhile are also without their top scorer in Wilfried Bony, as he is representing the Ivory Coast at the tournament.
The pair have scored 17 goals between them this season and they will be huge losses, but Andy Carroll’s likely return to the starting lineup should give the visitors a massive boost – the towering no.9 scored twice in the 3-1 win against Garry Monk’s men last month.
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Song provides Hammers with surprise boost
Cheikhou Kouyate is also away with Senegal, but Alex Song is available after retiring from international football and his involvement could be pivotal.
The home side are without Ki Sung-Yeung, who is also at AFCON, while Jonjo Shelvey is banned and Jefferson Montero is still out with a hamstring injury, but new signings Nelson Oliveira and Matt Grimes are available.
Carroll the key man
The Geordie striker is back in starting contention after missing the FA Cup clash against Everton in midweek and he will be rubbing his hands together at the prospect of facing a Swansea defence which he terrorised only a few weeks ago.
Carroll could make his 50th appearance for the Irons on Saturday and he will be itching to mark the occasion with a goal or two.
The forward was sensational in the last meeting with the Swans and West Ham, who have scored the most headed goals in the top flight this term, will hope he can inflict more misery on them.
The Hammers are unbeaten in their last four meetings with Swansea; however their home form has been incredible this season. Only Chelsea (three) have conceded fewer home goals than them so far (seven), and they have lost just one of their last seven league matches at the Liberty.
Swansea are renowned for playing attractive football and West Ham have shown this campaign that they are capable of winning pretty too. However, the visitors would be better served playing a more direct approach on Saturday.
The Welsh side are the only team not score from a corner this season and they are vulnerable from set pieces as they lack any aerial presence – this is what West Ham and particularly Carroll should look to expose.
West Ham United predicted XI: Adrian, Jenkinson, Reid, Tomkins, Cresswell; Noble, Song, Nolan, Amalfitano, Downing; Carroll.
Prediction: Swansea 1-1 West Ham
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