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Preview: West Ham United vs. Swansea City

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between West Ham United and Swansea City at Upton Park.

West Ham United will continue their pursuit of a top-four place in the Premier League table when they welcome Welsh outfit Swansea City to Upton Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Hammers are currently five points behind fourth-placed Manchester City with a game in hand and will be confident of collecting all the points in their final Saturday home game at the Boleyn Ground.


West Ham

Slaven Bilic points and shouts during the FA Cup fourth-round replay between West Ham United and Liverpool on February 9, 2016© Getty Images

Regardless of what happens in the final weeks of the season, West Ham have had a very impressive campaign. The supporters wanted to challenge for a Europa League position this term, but with three games left, their side are currently in contention for the top four ahead of their move to the Olympic Stadium.

The Hammers are currently on a 10-match unbeaten run in the league, and that brilliant form has left them in sixth position in the table - just five points off fourth-placed Man City with a game in hand. Manchester United are just above them in fifth, but they have a tough game away at relegation-threatened Norwich City this weekend.

Slaven Bilic's side have only actually lost twice at home in the league this season and are unbeaten in 15 at Upton Park since August, recording eight wins in the process. They have also scored 18 times in their last seven league matches and will enter this one off the back of a 3-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion last weekend.

On Tuesday night, West Ham will welcome Man United in their penultimate league game of the season, before finishing away to Stoke City next weekend. They are guaranteed a top-eight finish, but will be keen to fight off pressure from the two sides directly below them - Southampton and Liverpool.

Only Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City have scored more than West Ham's 60 Premier League goals this season, and the signing of Dimitri Payet has taken the team to a new level.

West Ham have already achieved their highest points tally in a single Premier League season (59), which is one more than they managed during the 1998-99 campaign. They are far from finished, however, and will be confident of beating a Swansea team with little to play for in the final weeks.

Recent form: DDDDWW
Recent form (all competitions): DDLDWW


Swansea

Andre Ayew celebrates scoring the opener during the Premier League game between Swansea City and Liverpool on May 1, 2016© AFP

A difficult campaign for Swansea has seen the Welsh club flirt with the relegation zone in 2016, but they will play Premier League football next season following a run of three wins in their last seven league matches.

Their form has been extremely hit and miss in recent weeks, however, beating Chelsea and Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium, but shipping seven goals in defeats to Newcastle United and Leicester in their last two on the road.

Won 11, drawn 10 and lost 15 is how Swansea's record stands after 36 matches, with a total of 43 points leaving them in 13th position in the table. They are actually only one point behind 11th-placed Everton, but have played one game more than the Merseyside outfit.

Only Newcastle (2) and Aston Villa (1) have won fewer away league games than Swansea's three this season and they have conceded 12 times in their last four matches away from the Liberty Stadium. That run will worry the supporters ahead of this weekend's trip to a West Ham side chasing a Champions League place.

Francesco Guidolin's side will finish the season with a home game against Man City next weekend and the future of their manager is still unclear. Brendan Rodgers has been tipped to return to the Swans and there is expected to be an announcement later this month.

They have struggled to match last season's exploits, when they ended the campaign in eighth position, but they have managed to move away from the bottom three and can still mathematically finish in the top half of the table.

Recent form: WDWLLW


Team News

Adrian of West Ham United celebrates his team's first goal by Victor Moses (not pictured) during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham United at Etihad Stadium on September 19, 2015© Getty Images

West Ham will be without the services of first-choice goalkeeper Adrian, who will miss the match with a calf problem. As a result, Darren Randolph will come in for a rare Premier League start.

The Spanish stopper is West Ham's only first-team absentee, however, leaving Bilic with plenty of options as his team battle to secure a Champions League position.

Andy Carroll will keep his spot in the final third, while Mark Noble, who scored twice against West Brom last weekend, will continue in the middle of the park.

James Tomkins is pushing for a return at right-back, but it seems likely that Bilic will continue with Michail Antonio behind Manuel Lanzini on the right of the field for the capital side.

As for Swansea, head coach Guidolin revealed at his pre-match press conference that both Neil Taylor and Gylfi Sigurdsson will miss the match through injury, while Jefferson Montero is also struggling.

Skipper Ashley Williams is also expected to be rested after playing every minute of Premier League football for the Welsh outfit this season.

West Ham possible starting lineup:
Randolph; Antonio, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Payet, Noble, Kouyate, Lanzini; Sakho, Carroll

Swansea possible starting lineup:
Fabianski; Rangel, Amat, Fernandez, Naughton; Britton, Cork; Routledge, Ki, Ayew; Gomis


Head To Head

In total, these two teams have met on 58 occasions in all competitions. Swansea have recorded 17 wins, West Ham 26, while the remaining 15 clashes have finished level.

West Ham have won each of the last three league meetings at Upton Park, meanwhile, and only lost one of their last seven Premier League fixtures with the Welsh club.

Earlier this season, the two teams played out a goalless draw at the Liberty Stadium.


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We say: West Ham 2-0 Swansea

Swansea will be missing key personnel this weekend and it is difficult to imagine the Welsh outfit preventing West Ham from collecting all the points. We are not expecting a comprehensive win, but believe that the home side will ultimately emerge victorious in the English capital.


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