In Week 29 of the English Premier League, we focus on the relegation battle as Swansea move above West Ham, Southampton and Stoke play out a goalless draw, and has Alan Pardew’s tenure at West Brom come to an end?
Swansea 4 v 1 West Ham
South Wales wasn’t an inviting place to be this weekend. With lazy bar stewards from all over the valleys ringing work complaining of being snowed in, the Hammers fans donned their skis and slalomed down to the white, white valleys of home.
I don’t know why they bothered.
In what is undoubtedly a relegation encounter, West Ham fans might have turned up, but the players didn’t. David Moyes called his second successive four-goal defeat an ‘embarrassment’ and apologised to the fans who had made the trip to the land of dragons.
At the other end of the scale, Swansea was back to their imperious best after a four-goal humbling at the Amex last weekend. Buoyed by their midweek FA Cup exertions, where they qualified for the Quarter-Finals for the first time since the 60s, Swansea battered the boys in claret and blue.
It helps to get off to a flyer and Swansea did. Ki Sung-Yeung picked the ball up on the edge of the box, and a feint later, the ball was in the back of the neck. The South Korean nearly joined the Hammers in a January deal.
The second goal before half-time summed up West Ham. A corner flew in from the right, and the giant Mike van der Horn just had to let it hit his head at the far post, and Swansea were two up and flying.
Three minutes later and another corner, this time from the left, saw the Swans swim even further out in front. Andre Ayew planted his head on the ball, Adrian saved but the rebound fell to Andy King, and he made no mistake. It was King’s debut since joining Leicester City on loan.
Any hope of a West Ham comeback ended on 63-minutes. Cheikhou Kouyate was adjudged to bring Andre Ayew down in the box (although it looked like an unintentional stumble from my perch), and his brother Jordan stepped up to smash home the fourth. It was Swansea’s 20th spot-kick success in 21 attempts, the best ratio in Premier League history.
Michail Antonio scored West Ham’s consolation goal, his second in successive games, but Moyes will have to start worrying, as his team now sit a mere three points from the relegation zone, with 37-goals conceded on their travels, the worse tally in the league.
Swansea rise above the Hammers into 13th place, quite remarkable when you consider they were rooted to the foot of the table when Carlos Carvahal replaced Paul Clement in December. Since his appointment, Swansea has now won eight successive home games on the trot.
Relegation News and Blues
West Brom remains at the foot of the table after losing 1-0 at Vicarage Road. The defeat, the Baggies fifth successive loss, will surely spell the end of Alan Pardew’s reign by the time the board have shuffled their midweek papers.
Watford skipper Troy Deeney was the man holding the dagger with the winning goal on his 300th appearance for the club (he also scored on his 100th and 200th appearances).
The defeat leaves West Brom eight points adrift of land. They have only won one game since the opening month of the season, and Pardew has taken just eight points from 18 games since replacing Tony Pulis. Watford sits in ninth. Former Watford boss Marco Silva is even money to replace Pardew, with Harry Redknapp a 5/1 shot.
Stoke join West Brom in the bottom three after playing out a goalless draw at St Mary’s. Paul Lambert emerged as the most upbeat of the two coaches and with good reason. Having lost six of the eight games before Lambert took over, the Scot has turned things around with only one defeat in six, taking them to within one point of Southampton who currently sits just outside the bottom three. Crystal Palace round out the bottom three side, and they face Man Utd on Monday night.
West Brom is 1/25 to face the drop. Stoke is 8/11, Crystal Palace is 9/4, and Southampton is 10/3.
So who else is worth a punt?
Huddersfield is currently 15/8 after losing to Spurs at Wembley. It was the eighth time The Terriers had lost to the Premier League’s top six sides in nine games (that fantastic win at home against Man Utd standing alone). Son Heung-min scored twice. It was Huddersfield’s 15th defeat of the season.
And Newcastle is 4/1 after losing away at Anfield (nothing to be ashamed of there). Liverpool set a new club record of scoring in 22 consecutive home games and little wonder with Mohamed Salah scoring his 24th goal of the season, and Sadio Mane also getting on the scoresheet. Liverpool moved ahead of Man Utd into second place with Jose Mourinho’s side playing on Monday night.
Here are the rest of the results in full.
Results in Full
Burnley 2 v 1 Everton
Leicester 1 v 1 Bournemouth
Swansea 4 v1. West Ham
Spurs 2 v 0 Huddersfield
Southampton 0 v 0 Stoke
Watford 1 v 0 West Brom
Liverpool 2 v 0 Newcastle
Man City 1 v 0 Chelsea
Brighton 2 v 1 Arsenal
To be Played
Crystal Palace v Man Utd
Premier League Table
1. Man City – 78
2. Liverpool – 60
3. Man Utd – 59
4. Spurs – 58
5. Chelsea – 53
6. Arsenal – 45
7. Burnley – 40
8. Leicester – 37
9. Watford – 36
10. Brighton – 34
11. Everton – 34
12. Bournemouth – 33
13. Swansea – 30
14. West Ham – 30
15. Huddersfield – 30
16. Newcastle – 29
17. Southampton – 28
18. Crystal Palace – 27
19. Stoke – 27
20. West Brom – 20