Leicester City vs West Ham United
Venue: King Power Stadium
Referee: David Coote
TV: BT Sport
Down-on-their-luck Leicester City host semi-resurgent West Ham United on Wednesday evening as they search to overturn their bad run and bounce back to the form that took them into the top four in the first place. Meanwhile the Hammers, in up-and-down form following the return of David Moyes, search for some consistency after a win, draw, and loss in Moyes’ first three games back in the Premier League.
Three points on the mind
A win will surely be what each side will be searching for here, with Leicester hungry for points after two losses and the Hammers’ belief spurred on by their upcoming opponents’ bad form. It is hardly ridiculous for them to believe either, with Leicester’s latest poor results coming against teams not too dissimilar to themselves.
Burnley, who came back from a goal down against the Foxes, are only four points and three league places away from West Ham, while Aston Villa, who Leicester drew to in the Carabao Cup semi-final, are only a place above them. Without a win at home since the very beginning of December, the Foxes look vulnerable where they should be strong and David Moyes will be more than willing to capitalize on this.
An uncompelling point in an unexciting game against Everton last time out is not much encouragement for the Hammers to build off, but the opportunity of taking points off a top-four side is a challenge the players and staff alike will surely be up for. It is not one they will want to squander either, especially considering the reverse fixture, when Leicester walked over them with what was essentially their reserve team in Pellegrini’s last game as manager. As they did with their loss to Southampton, Leicester will come up against a team on the hunt for revenge.
Reason for hope?
Despite all the gloom of four losses in their previous six, the previous loss to Burnley was not totally bad. The Foxes dominated the play for large parts of the game, creating more than enough chances to extend their lead and shut Burnley out. But complacency both in offence, with missed chances and penalties, and in defence, with players failing to track their opponents leading to conceding goals, ultimately cost them all or any points. It is sloppiness we have not seen from them all season which is now becoming uncomfortably familiar.
Brendan Rodgers has proved already that he is a class act as manager and had already identified these problems by his post-match interview; therefore he will surely make the changes necessary to fix, or attempt to fix, these issues by Wednesday night. Stats suggest he will too as Rodgers has never lost three games in a row with any of his teams since 2014 with Liverpool. Six years without three consecutive losses is impressive and points to the manager’s ability to make effective changes either tactically or mentally when necessary.
These changes may have already been hinted at as well, as a Kelechi Iheanacho interview on the club website hinted at the fact he is likely to start. Despite only starting four games this season, the Nigerian striker has provided a productive three goals and two assists between these starts and three substitute appearances and has more than merited a run in the first team. As well as this, there could be a miraculous early return for hard-working midfield lynch-pin Wilfrid Ndidi, who the team have sorely missed since he suffered a ligament injury and was rumored to be out until February. His return would be a huge relief for a Foxes side who have been defensively fragile in his absence.
What do the stats say?
Leicester have traditionally had the upper hand in this fixture, having lost just one of their last ten meetings (W5 D4) while West Ham have won away at the King Power only four times in the entirety of their visits to there in the Premier League.
But their bad run of form seems even worse when put under the statistical microscope: their last two home defeats are as many as they had in their previous 15 games at home, and the six goals they shipped in those two defeats are as many as they’ve conceded in their previous 13.
West Ham, on the other hand, will be praying they don’t take the lead (until the end, at least). They have dropped an embarrassing 17 points from winning positions this season, having won just three of the nine games they have gone ahead in. This will also be David Moyes’ 50th Premier League Game against top-four opposition – he has won just one of the previous 49.
Wilfrid Ndidi’s return from injury is likely to see him in the match squad if not starting, and his injury is the only one besides Matty James’ long-term ACL issue. Ben Chilwell and Hamza Choudhury are certain to return after missing the last match due to missing training.
David Moyes told the press that Felipe Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko and Ryan Fredericks will all be out until the other side of the winter break. Michail Antonio is still a doubt and is unlikely to start, and Lukas Fabianski’s injury means he does not even have a timeframe for his return.
Predicted Starting XIs
Leicester City (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel; Ricardo, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Ndidi; Ayoze Perez, Tielemans, Praet, Barnes; Iheanacho
West Ham United (3-4-2-1): Randolph; Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Zabaleta, Noble, Rice, Masuaku; Snodgrass, Lanzini; Haller
Match Prediction: Leicester City 2-0 West Ham United
West Ham’s injuries and lack of strength are likely to see them falter against a Leicester team that will be scrapping for a win. A goal-less first half will lead to a second-half dominated by the Foxes who will score two quick goals and put it out of reach of the Hammers.