Three Key Battles - Swansea City

There are few other ways to describe Saturday’s contest with Swansea City than as a crucial six-pointer, with both sides desperate to give themselves a boost with all three points at London Stadium.

The Hammers have of course lost their last five matches, while Welsh outfit Swansea remain in a battle to stay in the top flight.

And today’s visitors’ survival hopes received a blow during the week when, one-up against Tottenham Hotspur with two minutes to go, they threw away a lead and lost the game 3-1. Meanwhile, Arsenal were 3-0 winners against Slaven Bilic’s men.

Nobody needs to explain the importance of the clash to both sets of players, but can they perform on the pitch? Let’s take a look at three of this afternoon’s key battles…


Kouyate v Cork

In midfield, Cheikhou Kouyate has slotted back into a central position in the absence of Pedro Obiang, and he could go head-to-head with former Chelsea and Southampton man Jack Cork this afternoon.

Cork’s passing stats are slightly superior, though it’s nothing you wouldn’t expect; Kouyate loves to get around the field with pace and power and affect the game in crucial areas whereas his English counterpart prefers to control games from the base of midfield.

Kouyate’s physicality is also clear in his ability to win balls in the air, and although he’s yet to score in the Premier League this season, he remains a big threat from set pieces and crosses.

If Kouyate can get close to Cork throughout the match on Saturday, he will have a great chance of snuffing out Swansea’s passing game in midfield, the majority of which comes through Cork.


Antonio v Routledge

On the wing, Michail Antonio’s influence has been proven by how much the side missed him while injured. Having their top scorer back fit and firing is massive for the Hammers.

Meanwhile, Routledge is also an important cog in the south Welsh machine. The former Fulham, Palace and QPR man has a few goals himself this term and likes to deliver the ball towards the head of big Fernando Llorente when he can.

The beast’s stats are pretty unbeatable, though; he storms past players constantly – dribbles per game – he tracks back with pace and power to help out with the defence – clearances per game – and he’s menacing in front of goal – goals.

If Swansea keep a close eye on the winger and stop him from having an effect on the game, they’ll have done an excellent job.


Ayew v Ayew

Finally, the two Ayews meet once again, for the fourth time in fact. The pair have a goal each in previous meetings, so they would both clearly love to take the lead in terms of strikes against each other today.

Andre has been in good form for the Hammers recently, with three goals in his last five games. Meanwhile, Jordan is yet to score for the club he joined in January.

The Swans’ man is very direct, however, and likes to get his head down and dribble at an opponent, proven by his dribbles per game rate.

Which brother will come out on top at London Stadium?