The major issues for discussion ahead of the Hammers' Boxing Day trip to South Wales...
Boxing Day football
The tradition of Boxing Day football has been around for more than a century, with Thames Ironworks FC playing their first 26 December fixture in their very first year in existence.
That match ended in a 5-1 friendly victory over Wandsworth at Hermit Road in Canning Town. Seven years later, West Ham United’s first Boxing Day game ended in a 2-0 Southern League defeat at Portsmouth.
A first Football League Boxing Day fixture was played at Bristol City in 1919, and ended in a goalless Second Division draw. Four years later, Billy Moore scored the only goal as Aston Villa were defeated 1-0 at the Boleyn Ground in the First Division.
Boxing Day 1994 saw West Ham play their first Premier League match on the day after Christmas, with Tony Cottee netting in a 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town at the Boleyn Ground.
West Ham have met this year’s Boxing Day opponents Swansea City – then Swansea Town – once previously on 26 December, with Eric Parsons, Don Wade and an own-goal securing a 3-0 Second Division win in east London. Swansea won 1-0 at Vetch Field the following day!
Time to break free at the Liberty
West Ham United have visited Swansea City’s smart Liberty Stadium home on four occasions, but have yet to win there.
A 3-0 defeat on the Hammers’ first away game back in the Premier League in August 2012 has been followed by 0-0, 1-1 and 0-0 draws in each of the last three seasons.
With the Swans struggling near the bottom of the table and West Ham travelling to South Wales on a three-match unbeaten run, could it be the Hammers’ time to break free at the Liberty?
Carroll on song
Andy Carroll likes playing against Swansea City.
In eight career matches, the centre forward has scored five goals and assisted three more against the Swans, with all but one of those goals coming in a West Ham United shirt.
On his last appearance at the Liberty Stadium, the 27-year-old scored a truly stunning goal, so it would come as no surprise if Carroll hit the right note for Christmas in South Wales.
Clean sheet hat-trick?
It is almost exactly a year since West Ham United last kept three clean sheets in successive Premier League matches.
It was December 2015 and the injury-depleted Hammers at Manchester United, at home to Stoke City and… at Swansea City!
History could well repeat itself at the Liberty Stadium on Boxing Day, where Slaven Bilic’s side will be seeking to make it a hat-trick of shutouts for the first time in 40 top-flight matches.
Back four or back five?
Having utilised a back five to good effect in victory at Crystal Palace in October, Slaven Bilic stuck with his new system throughout the autumn, with mixed results.
Last weekend, with his side struggling to contain Hull City at London Stadium, the manager reverted to the back-four formation he favoured for the vast majority of the successful 2015/16 campaign at half-time. The result was an improved second-half performance and a 1-0 victory.
At Swansea City, who favour a lone striker, Bilic could be tempted to kick-off with a flat back four, or will he use the five-man defence he has used from the start in eleven of West Ham United’s 17 Premier League matches.