West Ham United - Swansea City Preview: Can the Swans end the Hammers' European dream?

The hosts need three points to keep their Champions League hopes a reality, but Swansea are looking to crash the party.

West Ham United - Swansea City Preview: Can the Swans end the Hammers' European dream?
West Ham United will be hosting Swansea City on Saturday at Upton Park. (Photo: VAVEL UK)

Swansea City are heading to London to face West Ham United on Saturday at Upton Park.

Reason to fight

Swansea have already secured their spot next season in the Premier League with their 3-1 upset victory over Europa League finalist Liverpool last Sunday at the Liberty Stadium. The Jacks currently are in 13th place with 43 points and a negative 13 goal differential.

The Welsh club are way too far behind to possibly qualify to the Europa next season. So at this point the Jacks are just attempting to finish as high as possible in the standings.

The Hammers spot in the Premier League for the 2016/2017 season has long been secured. West Ham are in sixth place with 59 points and a positive 17 goal differential. However, they are fighting to earn a spot in the top four to secure their place in the next campaign of the UEFA Champions League.

Champions League dreaming  

The London based club are just five points away from the last automatic qualifying spot for the Champions League. Manchester City are in control of fourth place with 64 points and positive 30 goal differential.

Simply winning on Saturday will not help the Hammers automatically qualify to the European competition for the first time in their history though. The Irons will still have two more games to play after this clash against Jacks and they have to win every available match that is left to improve their chances. After that, it is out their hands.

West Ham need some help to achieve this historical moment. First Norwich City will have to defeat or hold fifth place Manchester United to a draw on Saturday at Carrow Road. Then Arsenal have to beat City at the Etihad on Sunday.

The role of spoiler

Swansea’s head coach Francesco Guidolin is well aware that his club have the ability to surprise anybody at home. When the Jacks are on the road they tend to struggle a bit. In 18 away games this season in the Premier League, the Welsh club have only won three times and drawn five times. However, with the pressure of avoiding relegation now off their shoulders, maybe the Swans will be up for the challenge.

If the Jacks are able to leave Upton Park with a point or three in the bag, then West Ham's chances of qualifying for the UCL are very slim. The reason for that is because if Man City (64 points) go on to beat the Gunners, then the Hammers' Champions League dreams are over.

Swansea faithful will be hoping that Andre Ayew (Center) performances against Liverpool carries on Sunday against the Hammers. Photo provided by Action Images.
Swansea faithful will be hoping that André Ayew's performance against Liverpool is repeated against the Hammers. (Photo: Action Images)

How the Swans can pick up a result

The obvious way for the Swans to clinch a result is to score first. By doing that the Hammers will be force to go after the game and search for an equaliser. In result, pacey players like André Ayew and Wayne Routledge will have the space and time to expose the back line. 

The defence will also need to put in the same performance as they did against Liverpool. Captain Ashley Williams will be rested for this game, Guidolin has confirmed, and so Jordi Amat will need to step up and anchor the back line, keeping it organised. Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski will need to be vocal and command his area too in front of a changed defence that will also be missing Neil Taylor.

West Ham has too much on the table

The Hammers will not play it safe on Saturday since three points is a must to keep the Champions League a reality for them. Their captain Mark Noble, Alex Song and Dimitri Payet will be pushing the Swans for the entire 90 minutes.

The Welsh club have shown that on the road consistent pressure will make them crumble. They will hope that they can stand tall for longer this time out, as the same scenario will lead to Andy Carroll and Enner Valencia capitalising on their chances.