Friday will bring an interesting and important match for two underachieving sides at the moment. Twelfth-placed Leicester City will travel to London as they face West Ham United, who currently find themselves stuck in the relegation zone. After a poor start to his reign as manager, David Moyes will be desperate to establish himself in front of the home supporters. Claude Puel and his side will want to rebound after being picked apart by Manchester City at home a week ago.
Leicester City vs West Ham United: Pressure Mounting On Both Sides
Looking for a spark
West Ham’s campaign so far has admittedly not gone to plan so far, but there is still time for them to turn it around. The playmakers in the squad will need to step up, whether it be their maestro in the shape of Manuel Lanzini or paceman in Andre Ayew, the Hammers will need to keep the ball and take their chances, or else Leicester has the ability to punish in the blink of an eye.
A counter attack like none other
Regardless of the selection, Leicester City will look to absorb pressure and eventually counter West Ham with pace, power, and precision. This all starts with summer signee Vicente Iborra patrolling the midfield. The Spaniard is known to win 50/50 battles and then dish the ball to the attack. The dynamic duo of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy both have the ability to punish defenders if given the slightest amount of space to operate. Goals are almost definitely promised in this game, and if Leicester can establish themselves early, expect an abundance.
West Ham: L-L-D-W-L
West Ham’s recent form has been far from spectacular, and a 2-0 loss against Watford under new boss David Moyes is just another concern. West Ham will come into the game with hardly any confidence after being dismantled by an average Watford side and there is no sign that their poor form will change.
Leicester City: L-D-W-W-W
On the other hand, Leicester comes into the match after a tough defeat at the hands of league leaders, Manchester City. Leicester had their chances but was eventually outclassed by the Citizens skill. Other than the loss, the Foxes should be confident of taking all three points as long they are able to contain any West Ham attack.
West Ham: David Moyes faces an injury dilemma as key men Javier Hernández and Michail Antonio will miss out. In addition, United will be without Sam Byram and James Collins who are still regaining fitness. In positive news, Marko Arnautovic and Andre Ayew will be available for selection after both suffered from minor issues. Regardless, West Ham will be short-handed in the attack and will have to look towards out of favor striker, Andy Carroll for goals.
Leicester City: Claude Puel’s side has no new injury concerns, with only midfielder Matty James and defender Robert Huth missing out. When asked about the busy upcoming month, Puel replied, “Of course it will be important to make some rotation in December, but the side is healthy and have days to recover.”
Keys to victory
West Ham: Arguably coming in as the underdog, West Ham must dominate the midfield early. Leicester is deadly when given space and they like to use their centre-forward as a target man to play off of. If West Ham establishes their presence in the middle, it will open the pitch up for their dynamic Argentine, Manuel Lanzini. If he can find space in the middle, Lanzini is more than capable of punishing the Leicester defense. But, the real story heading into the match is Andy Carroll. The Englishmen has struggled immensely to find the back of the net since Javier Hernández went down with an injury and all fingers will be pointed at Carroll if the Hammers fail to score. But, If Carroll can perform, he poses a serious challenge to the Leicester backline.
Leicester City: The Foxes come in decent form, despite a 2-0 loss to Manchester City the prior week. Claude Puel’s side will want to shut down the trio of Ayew, Carroll, and Lanzini. If that is done, Leicester should be fairly confident in their transition play from midfield to attack. The visiting side will also look to use their width as an advantage. West Ham will likely look to be more compact giving Leicester’s wingers an opportunity to create chances when out wide. Jamie Vardy is bound to give Winston Reid and Angelo Ogbonna problems, but it is just a matter of if he has his shooting boots on.
West Ham: Adrian, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Kouyate, Noble, Obiang, Arnautovic, Carroll, Lanzini
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, Ndidi, Iborra, Gray, Okazaki, Vardy
While it really is a matter of which team shows up, Leicester is undoubtedly favorited to get the three points. David Moyes having just been appointed will feel he has time, but a poor run of results could quickly change that. West Ham has dug themselves into a pretty big hole and their road to safety starts tomorrow. The match promises to be a scrappy and high pace affair, with plenty of goals. If Vardy and company bring the game to a West Ham squad who are low on confidence, the scoreline could easily get out of hand. But, the pressure on the Hammers might be a blessing in disguise if it instills some urgency into the team. Despite this, Leicester’s quality in attack will overpower the home team and they will escape with all three points.
Leicester 2-1 West Ham