STEELY HAMMERS FRUSTRATE SWANS
MICHAEL Laudrup did not get the huge results he wanted from Swansea City's huge week.
His team did okay, winning one and drawing two of the three fixtures he hoped would bring a hat-trick of victories.
The long wait for back-to-back Premier League successes — a feat Swansea last achieved almost 11 months ago — goes on after a stalemate with West Ham United.
There was no shortage of desire yesterday, and no particular signs of weariness despite the busy period.
But Swansea could not find the moment of quality required to undo stubborn opponents.
In fairness, West Ham would argue that they were well worth a point, for they were the team who looked most likely to break through for half this game.
Swansea dominated the second 45 minutes but, for all their hard work, they could not find a way past Jussi Jaaskelainen.
There will be frustration, particularly after a late penalty debate, but the draw was not that bad a result against a belligerent West Ham side.
Laudrup's target had been to win three home games in eight days against Sunderland, Kuban Krasnodar and the Hammers.
Swansea got the job done against Sunderland but slipped up at the last against Kuban.
Making it two out of three was always likely to be a battle given the identity of the man in the visitors' dugout.
Sam Allardyce is one of the statistic kings in Premier League management, and was one of the first to pay attention to what computers could tell him about players.
Allardyce, who once led Bolton in Europe, reckoned Swansea might be weary in the wake of their latest Europa League assignment.
Yet Laudrup made seven changes to the side which started against Kuban, with Ashley Williams the most notable new face after his recent fitness troubles.
The skipper's presence was welcome against a powerful, abrasive West Ham side who gave Swansea plenty of problems in the first half.
When Swansea were in possession, the claret and blue shirts retreated towards their own area and challenged Laudrup's team to break them down.
And they struggled to do so.
Swansea created only one half-chance in open play during the first period, Wayne Routledge crossing with the outside of his right boot for Alvaro Vazquez, who had been preferred to the more physical Wilfried Bony.
The young Spaniard tried an ambitious diving header and Jussi Jaaskelainen saved with some comfort.
Ironically, Swansea's best opportunity came from a set-piece, Chico Flores meeting Jonathan de Guzman's corner with a bullet header.
Jaaskelainen saved — although he did not know much about it, Flores's effort cannoning out off the veteran goalkeeper's chest.
But it was Michel Vorm who was the busier keeper, the Dutchman pushing out Stewart Downing's early drive and then watching with relief as a swift counter ended with Ravel Morrison dragging a shot across the face.
Swansea were struggling to cope with the various powerhouses in Allardyce's side, with set-pieces raining into their area from all angles.
When Vorm came for Razvan Rat's 50-yard missile and did not get there, Kevin Nolan flicked a header goalwards and Angel Rangel saved Swansea, hooking the ball clear from underneath the bar.
Next Vorm could only push Downing's corner as far as Morrison on the edge of the box and his shot deflected to safety.
Downing's free-kick set more alarm bells ringing, and Swansea were fortunate that Mohamed Diame got his header all wrong.
And there was another let-off for Laudrup's team in first-half stoppage time when Matt Jarvis crossed from the left.
Nolan failed to wrap his foot round the ball when he would have been better off leaving it for Morrison.
For the third time in as many games, Swansea needed to be better in the second period.
And there was an improvement, West Ham having to defend again as Swansea raised the tempo all over the pitch.
Nathan Dyer was influential, the busy right winger wriggling away from two challenges and Winston Reid's cynical attempt to hack him down.
Dyer crossed for Vazquez, but there was a yard too much pace on the centre and the opportunity was gone.
Next Leon Britton robbed the colossal Diame, David beating Goliath, and fed Michu. He shot from distance and Jaaskelainen gathered at the second attempt.
Vazquez was next to try his luck from range, but his effort sliced harmlessly wide.
At least Swansea were now the game's dominant force.
Fit-again Pablo Hernandez and Bony arrived from the bench, the Spaniard offering guile and the Ivorian some steel. Hernandez picked out Michu but his shot was blocked. From the corner which followed, it was West Ham's turn to panic.
Rangel's loopy header fell to Bony, whose right-foot shot was brilliantly saved by Jaaskelainen. Flores headed the rebound goalwards but Mark Noble hacked clear off the line.
Swansea were getting stronger as the game wore on, and it turned into attack versus defence as the minutes ticked down.
The massed ranks of Allardyce's rearguard smothered Swansea for the most part, de Guzman flashing wide as the hosts were forced to shoot from range once more.
There was one last hairy moment for West Ham in stoppage time, when Dyer did brilliantly down the right only to see his cross blocked by Joe Cole.
Swansea screamed long and loud for handball, but Phil Dowd was not interested.
Two penalties in two weekends was always likely to be too much to ask.
And so begins another huge week.
Cardiff City are now only six days away.