It’s been a December to remember for West Ham United so far and no more so was this in evidence than on Boxing Day as the Hammers strolled to an emphatic 4-1 victory over Swansea City at The Liberty Stadium.
Andre Ayew opened the scoring in the 13th minute with his first for the club before Winston Reid and Michail Antonio got the second and third. Despite Fernando Llorente getting one back for the Swans, it was the Hammers who signed off with a Christmas ‘Carroll’ of their own as the big man bagged the fourth in the final minute.
The win was our first ever at The Liberty Stadium, second away from home this season and our third consecutive league victory this month. Not since January have Slaven Bilic’s side bagged nine points out of nine in Premier League matches.
And whilst the Hammers’ front-line may take the media headlines for an imperious attacking display in South Wales, a constant in our recent run of form has been the high-class performances of one man, who again was on song yesterday.
Voted as Man of the Match by supporters on Twitter, goalkeeper Darren Randolph was on top of his game between the West Ham sticks. The Irish keeper made six saves, twice as many as Swansea’s Lukasz Fabianski, and came within four minutes of bagging a third clean sheet on the bounce.
His back-to-back clean sheets against Burnley and Hull were our first since October and had we made it three on the spin, it would have been a record broken that stretched back over 12 months.
As all the best goalkeepers do, he made essential saves at essential times. One of his best was a diving effort to deny Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick just before half-time but he was also on hand to keep out Jack Cork, Sigurdsson again, and Wayne Routledge in fine style.
Not only was Darren in fine form yesterday with his gloves, but on the ground with his feet he made positive decisions which kick-started some of West Ham’s impressive forward-play. He was an essential part of our possession-based approach making 50 touches and 43 passes in the game - more than some of his outfield teammates.
After impressing at the Summer’s European Championships with Republic of Ireland, Randolph had to wait until 19 November for his first Premier League start this campaign but has without doubt impressed since being given his chance.
Performances like those of his yesterday prove it is without coincidence that since his selection, the Hammers have picked up half of their current season’s points total in just seven games. Defensively, statistics show we are improving each game and four goals netted against Swansea suggest things aren’t too bad up-top either…
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