Another uninspired Leicester City performance resulted in a 2-0 victory for West Ham United which guaranteed them Premier League football for next years campaign.
It was an impeccable afternoon for football with the sun beaming down on the King Power turf. Yet, it was far from an impeccable performance from the Foxes as they lacked imagination, creativity and confidence with the Irons making Puel’s team pay.
It was David Moyes side who started with greater intent as they looked to secure their Premier League status in Leicestershire. Lanzini and Zabaleta asked questions of the Foxes side early on, with the latter sending a header wide after meeting a delicate deep cross from Masuaku on the 13th minute. As West Ham searched for the breakthrough, Leicester were in no surge to challenge West Ham’s Adrian.
Arnautovic, who once again played the villain for the away team, was the next to test a Leicester defence who shipped five goals at Palace in their previous fixture. The Austrian forced a good save from Hamer on the half hour mark after creeping past Maguire and Morgan in the centre. Three minutes later he sent a sweetly hit volley past Hamer, only for the woodwork to be Leicester’s saving grace.
It was a minute later though where Leicester were made to pay for their lackluster start as Marko Arnautovic became provider as he met a deep cross, nudged off Christian Fuchs, and found Joao Mario lurking unmarked in the centre who tapped home to give the Hammers the lead.
The halftime whistle was met with boos from the Leicester City faithful, who were clearly frustrated with their teams first half performance. The frustration was to continue as many questioned their managers half-time decision to replace Vicente Iborra, who seemingly triggered a previous hamstring injury, with Alexander Dragovic. Many fans were left bamboozled by this as it was Harry Maguire who rolled back the years and took the place of Iborra in the centre of the park. This resulted in the Foxes having four natural centre half players on the field (Maguire, Morgan, Dragovic and Benalouane) alongside Fuchs at left back causing many fans to question Puel’s tactics once more.
As the Foxes searched for any slight reward for their fans, Creswell was arguably lucky to remain on the pitch as he bundled on the ball and clutched onto it just outside the box after being chased down by the hungry Jamie Vardy. Nonetheless, referee Chris Kavanagh deemed the purposeful error a yellow card, much to the relief of the West Ham left-back.
On 61 minutes, things turned sour at the King Power. The Leicester boss decided to replace Diabate, who was arguably Leicester’s best player, as well as academy graduate Choudhury, with Iheanacho and Demari Gray. This left five defenders on the field with Leicester still needing a goal. Chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ bellowed around the stadium which were shortly followed by ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’. After Leicester owners showing their faith in Puel during the week stating he will remain Leicester manager, these scenes certainly did not help his cause.
Just as Puel made these changes to get back into the fixture, a moment of wonder from West Ham captain, Mark Noble, destroyed any hope of a Foxes comeback. The ball fell to the Englishman from a West Ham free kick and he struck the ball with sweet precision past Hamer who had no chance in the Leicester goal. It was a significant blow for the Leicester side as the jubilant West Ham fans bounced up and down knowing their safety was imminent.
It was now just a case of West Ham seeing the game out with expertise and to be frank, this was done with ease. Leicester did not have too much to offer and although they enjoyed the majority of the pressure late on, they were limited to opportunities from the wings, which Adrian had little trouble with. The Foxes best chance of the game came from make-shift right back, Benalouane, who met a corner and sent his header towards the top right of the goal, only for Adrian to palm it away.
The Leicester players completed a lap of appreciation at the final whistle, yet fewer then 1000 fans remained after another disappointing performance from Puel’s men. Next up for them is the trip of Arsenal who will be looking to bid farewell to Wenger in style. The Hammers head back to the London Stadium to face Manchester United.
Leicester manager, Claude Puel, suggested after the fixture that there was not a fundamental problem at his football club. However, his side have not won in five Premier League games and with jeers of ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ ringing around the King Power, the managers future at the club is understandably in doubt.
MOTM: Marko Arnautovic. The Austrian caused hassle all afternoon and played a pivotal role in the Hammers first goal.
Leicester: Hamer, Benalouane, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, Choudhury (Iheanacho, 61) Iborra (Dragovic, 45) Diabate (Gray, 61) Silva, Vardy. Unused Subs: Barnes, Thomas, Jakupovic, Hughes.
West Ham United: Adrian, Rice, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Zabaleta, Kouyate, Noble, Masuaku (Evra, 93) Mario, Lanzini (Carroll, 75) Arnautovic (Fernandes, 79). Unused Subs: Trott, Hugill, Cullen, Obiang.