When Sam Allardyce revealed this week he’d opted to sign Andy Carroll over Wilfried Bony, there would have been many questioning that decision.
After all, while £15m purchase Carroll spent the first half of last season in the treatment room and managed just two goals in his last 19 Premier League appearances before Sunday, Bony has established himself as one of the most clinical strikers in the top flight.
The Ivory Coast international – who joined Swansea for a club-record £12m fee in July 2013 - had netted 31 times in 62 appearances for the Welsh side before heading to Upton Park, where he could so easily have been plying his trade.
Carroll v Bony on Sunday
Goals: 2 - 1
Assists: 1 - 0
Attempts: 2 - 4
Duels: 28 - 18
Duel success: 50% - 33. 3%
And the former Vitesse forward, who is the Premier League’s top scorer in 2014 with 19 strikes this calendar year – one ahead of Sergio Aguero – demonstrated his superb form with a cool finish on 19 minutes to put Swansea 1-0 up at West Ham.
As the Sky Sports cameras cut to a frustrated Allardyce in the home dugout, you could imagine the West Ham boss ruing the fact the Swans ace wasn’t wearing claret and blue.
However, fit-again Carroll responded in emphatic fashion. Two towering headers either side of half-time turned the game around and a characteristic flick-on for Diafra Sakho to add gloss launched West Ham up to third in the Premier League – their highest position for 15 years.
“I’ve played a couple of games but until you score you don’t feel like you’re definitely back,” Carroll told Sky Sports after the game. “Now I’ve got two, it means a great deal.”
To think West Ham have made their best start to a Premier League campaign with Carroll only able to start their past four games is testament to the squad Allardyce has built in east London.
Summer signings Sakho, Enner Valencia and Alex Song have all played key roles in the Hammers’ impressive start to the campaign, but Carroll’s return to fitness and form bolsters their chances of qualifying for European football.
“It was immense stuff from him all afternoon,” said Sky Sports pundit Niall Quinn, who awarded Carroll the man of the match prize. “I’m delighted to see him back to his best.
"There were two classic Andy Carroll goals and it was a terrific performance from the big man. He’s modelled his game on Alan Shearer but there were times today when he reminded me of the great man. Swansea will be glad to see the back of him.”
Of course, consistency is the key for any striker. It has been a long road back for Carroll, following the heel injury he picked up in the 2013 pre-season, and his opener on Sunday was his first in 878 minutes of Premier League action. In contrast, Bony’s longest drought in two Premier League terms is the six matches it took for him to get off the mark this year.
However, West Ham fans have cause for optimism with their 6ft 4in, 25-year-old striker now back in full flow.
“The lad has had an horrendous time, in terms of injuries,” added Dwight Yorke. “It’s nice to see him back, he’s scoring goals and that will give him an enormous amount of confidence going forward to the rest of the campaign.
“West Ham will benefit from him. A fully-fit Andy Carroll can cause trouble for any Premier League defenders. Sam Allardyce will be enjoying this moment but, most importantly, Andy Carroll is back.”