Another draw as Hammers battle in the rain

Posted by Peter Thorne

Geoff Caddick/Getty ImagesMark Noble and West Ham were unable to break a scoreless deadlock in Wales against Swansea.

At the beginning of the season the games were tight with few chances -- sometimes none at all -- as West Ham struggled to score at one end while defending valiantly -- though not without a good deal of skill -- at the other.

Nine games in and you'd be excused for thinking little has changed as another tight 0-0 was fought out against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium. This game wasn't like that though, with West Ham threatening in the first period and the home side more in the second. There were plenty of shots on goal, quite a few chances -- though probably none too clear-cut -- and the entertainment level was reasonable, even if you knew full well the game would figure last in any weekend TV round-up.

- Match report: Swansea 0-0 West Ham

On a rain-soaked afternoon, West Ham played well and deserved something from the game. Though it was a contest which will have Sam Allardyce ruing again the missed chances, it was also a match where he will have seen quite a few encouraging signs.

So let's just deal with the old chestnut first: it's likely that the Hammers could have had a goal or two in the first period if they had a striker worth his salt -- it's hard not to remember how Andy Carroll tore Swansea to shreds at Upton Park late last season -- and a lot of impetus was lost when Ricardo Vaz Te went off injured after 34 minutes. As last week, the introduction of Matt Jarvis meant the Hammers had two wingers and no-one in the middle, but Carlton Cole looked good when he came on just after the hour for Mo Diame.

Stewart Downing kept up his good form since joining the Hammers, forcing Michael Vorm to make several good saves while Jussi Jaaskelainen made his usual crucial stop, tipping over a fierce drive from former Hammers target Wilfred Bony in the second half after the Ivorian had come on for Alvaro Vasquez.

As against Spurs, playing without a recognised forward and flooding the midfield caused problems for the opposition but, against Swansea, the Hammers' height at free-kicks also caused major issues and the Welsh side looked uncomfortable against the huge aerial supremacy of James Tomkins and Winston Reid. Vorm was particularly lucky in a difficult first-half for the home side, when he mis-punched a header towards his own net and was relieved to see Angel Rangel clear off the line.

Ravel Morrison again looked good and missed an excellent chance just wide of the far post after a fast breakaway that had begun with Jaaskelainen saving a point-blank header from Chico Flores.

The second half wasn't as enterprising for the visitors as the first, but it would have been grossly hard on the Hammers had Swansea's late call for handball against substitute Joe Cole in the area been given; the claret and blue deserved a point at least and -- and I think you may have heard this before from this blog -- as soon as they have a fit and in-form striker, then the Hammers should pull away from the bottom.

The Irons go to Burnley in an important cup game on Tuesday and, despite the Clarets excellent start to the season, Big Sam will believe they can get something from the match if they continue to create opportunities.


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