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West Ham 1 Swansea City 0

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 04, 2013

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SAM Allardyce dragged his players in for 7am training after their recent defeat at Arsenal.

There was never any danger of Michael Laudrup doing something similar after Swansea City went down at Upton Park this weekend.

Swansea, after all, have come through the two-month slog the manager felt would define their season in rather rude health.

Despite this setback, Swansea remain firmly in mid-table with a third of the Premier League season to come.

On top of that, of course, they have negotiated a path to the first major final in the history of the club.

No wonder Laudrup was not going up the wall after defeat at West Ham United, Swansea's first reverse in eight league games.

"I don't like to lose — even in training," the Dane stressed afterwards. "But I think I can understand why this happened. It's seven weeks since we lost last time in the league, so we have had a very, very positive run.

"You cannot win all the games, especially when you are a small team like us. Sometimes you will lose and, when that happens, you just have to get back on the horse again and up for next weekend."

Laudrup then offered half a smile, for he was excited by the prospect of a whole seven days between matches after such a frantic spell of games.

Swansea's cup exploits meant the Christmas rush was followed by a jammed January but now, at last, they can pause for breath.

From here on in, there are no more midweek games this season. From now until mid-May, Laudrup can focus on preparing his team for one fixture a week.

"It changes a little bit now," he added. "For two months we have been playing every three days, but now it will only be once a week.

"We have 13 league games and a cup final at Wembley, and there will be a week to prepare for each game. That's good."

More positive news for Laudrup just now is the way his team have reacted to overcoming Chelsea to reach the Capital One Cup final.

Swansea have not won either of their league games since — they drew at Sunderland before Saturday's reverse — but what satisfied Laudrup was the two competitive performances produced by his team.

"Getting to the final, the first one in 100 years, was a major event for the club," he said, "and I thought there would be a reaction.

"I thought we would lose our focus and that maybe we would lose a game 3-0 or 4-0, but that hasn't happened.

"We dominated against Sunderland and against West Ham we could easily have got a result.

"It shows me that we are still there. The players are still focused mentally and that's pleasing. It shows me that my team is mature."

Laudrup's determination to stress the positives was understandable even if Swansea were short of their best in East London.

This season has been one long success story to date, and some minor disappointments along the way are inevitable.

But if there is one concern about the way Swansea are playing right now, it relates to their lack of success going forward.

Laudrup's Swansea started life as a team who scored plenty of goals but were always liable to concede a few too.

Right now they are a side who are very tough to break down but are struggling to do damage themselves.

Andy Carroll's solitary goal was enough to secure all three points for West Ham because, for the fifth time in six matches, Swansea did not score themselves.

"I think you just have to accept that sometimes there are periods where you score more goals and sometimes you don't get so many," Laudrup said.

"Look at the opponents we have played recently. The last two have been opponents at our level, but before that we played Arsenal twice and Chelsea twice. They are difficult games."

In their four cup meetings with Arsenal and Chelsea last month, Swansea scored a total of four goals.

Two of them were supplied by Danny Graham, the man Swansea sold to Sunderland last week and then failed to replace.

Graham wanted to go, and Laudrup felt £5 million was good money for a player who was not a central figure in his plans.

Given all that, it was understandable that Swansea should sell. What may be harder for some on the outside to fathom is why Swansea let Graham go without replacing him.

There are no other strikers on the books at the Liberty with any record of scoring goals consistently in the Premier League and, with Michu going through something of a barren spell, Swansea look a little short of firepower just now.

Yet Laudrup already seems to be tiring of questions about his attacking arsenal for the three-and-a-half months of the season which lie ahead.

Is he happy with options, he was asked after the West Ham blank?

"I know where you want to go," he said. "Yes I am very happy, especially with only one game a week.

"As I say to my team, the most important thing to me is that we are always competitive, whatever the competition and whatever players I change.

"In the last couple of months we have been competitive."

Laudrup will expect more of the same right through until May — but someone will have to step up to the plate in front of goal to make that happen.

The most likely candidate is Michu, who is now without a goal in six games but has been Swansea's main threat all season.

"He has scored a lot of goals and I knew he could not continue like that," Laudrup said.

"There will be moments when he will not score, and that's when others have to take over, like Ben (Davies) and Jonathan (de Guzman) did against Stoke."

Michu was ill overnight ahead of West Ham, but Swansea's options in attack — and in midfield for that matter — are such that it is almost impossible to leave him out.

They did create some chances this weekend, but Swansea could have no complaints about the final result.

Laudrup's men began with greater poise and always looked more comfortable in possession, yet it was West Ham's more direct approach which brought the biggest threat.

Mohammed Diame, Ricardo Vaz Te and Kevin Nolan — twice — all forced good saves from Gerhard Tremmel in the first half as Carroll's physical presence gave Swansea major concerns.

For all their control of the ball, Swansea threatened only once before the break, Pablo Hernandez cutting in from the right but seeing his shot blocked by Matt Taylor.

Allardyce's team came again in the second period, Vaz Te and Carroll forcing further stops from Tremmel.

"Their keeper was on fire," reflected Carroll.

The on-loan Liverpool targetman blazed another chance over, then Diame followed suit.

Swansea had a brief spell of pressure at the other end, Hernandez's free-kick forcing a decent stop from Jussi Jaaskleainen before Michu shot wide and headed over.

By now Swansea's third straight goalless draw looked a strong possibility, but West Ham got the winner they deserved when Carroll escaped the attentions of Ashley Williams to power in a header from Mark Noble's corner.

The visitors responded late on, Ki Sung-Yueng sending Jaaskelainen sprawling before substitute Luke Moore's shot was blocked right at the end.

With that Swansea were beaten for the first time in a league game since Tottenham in mid-December.

And so to Queens Park Rangers at home next Saturday, and a chance to get back on the horse.

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