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West Ham United 2 Leicester City 2 | Talking Points

Harvey Barnes rescued a point at the death at the London Stadium as the Foxes fall to eighth and the Hammers remain in the bottom half after a 2-2 draw.

Brendan Rodgers gave Marc Albrighton his first start since returning from the hamstring injury which kept him sidelined since January as he replaced Harvey Barnes. Wes Morgan was also dropped and replaced by Jonny Evans as the Foxes continued in their favoured 4-1-4-1 formation.

As for the Hammers, Arnautovic replaced Javier Hernandez whilst Antonio came in for Lanzini as they looked to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to Manchester United last time out. It was the replacement in Antonio who opened the scoring at the London Stadium as he was found expertly by Mark Noble to power his header past Kasper Schmeichel.

The Englishman neatly headed home yet in a similar fashion, midway through the second half, Leicester levelled. Ben Chilwell found Jamie Vardy who jabbed his foot at the ball which flew past Fabianksi in the West Ham goal. The goal forced Pellegrini into making a few substitutions and Lucas Perez replaced the quiet Arnautovic, who failed to impress at the London Stadium. Pedro Obiang also came into the fray as Robert Snodgrass made way and it was the two substitutes who linked up for the Hammers second. The former picked up the ball and saw his strike hit the frame of the goal which found its way to Lucas Perez who could not miss from a few yards out.

Yet the Foxes were not done and the five minutes of injury time spurred Brendan Rodgers men on in search of an equaliser. Tielemans picked up the ball and slotted Harvey Barnes through on goal who crept the ball past Fabianski for the two sides to share the spoils.

Headed delight

Headed goals and the London Stadium have really been getting on as of late. Before Saturday’s game, West Ham’s last nine goals at the London Stadium have all come courtesy of headers or penalties with seven headed goals and two penalties being scored. Michail Antonio made it eight headed goals in their last 10 as he opened the scoring on Saturday afternoon.

Lucas Perez’s effort late in the second half surprisingly did not come from his head but this heading ability of which the Hammers possess must continue to be utilised for them to continue picking up results.

Southgate watches on

With a total of nine English players starting the game at the London Stadium, Southgate certainly watched an enjoyable 90 minutes on Saturday afternoon. With Harvey Barnes and Jack Wilshere also coming into the game during the second half, 11 English players featured somewhat in this fixture.

What would have undoubtedly pleased Southgate was the ability of the younger members of these 11. Declan Rice, Harvey Barnes, James Maddison, Ben Chilwell and Demari Gray are all under the age of 23 and with the latter in Declan Rice impressing in his debut last time out on international duty, the talent on display from English youngsters at the London Stadium was somewhat impressive. 

Is VAR really needed in the Premier League?

This point was originally going to cover the great job of the refereeing officials on Saturday afternoon who performed rather exceptionally throughout the 90 minutes. Referees are given an unbelievable amount of stick and their jobs should likely become easier come next season with the introduction of VAR.

Yet, on Saturday, Lee Probert and his team allowed the game to flow, blew up when necessary and allowed the game to follow a natural rhythm. There were also questions of offside as Lucas Perez put the Hammers 2-1 ahead yet the official correctly kept his flag down in what was an extremely tight call and a superb piece of officiating. Yet moments after his first, Perez was through on goal again yet this time, was flagged for offside.

The original question though needs to be asked and the answer is yes. Despite the official’s great game at the London Stadium, the second offside claim on Perez, although extremely close again, was probably the wrong call and the introduction of VAR will simply give the officials a breather and make their lives so much easier and produce fairer results and football matches.

Is 7th place gone for the Foxes? 

The draw on Saturday saw the Foxes fall one place down to 8th as Watford overtook them with their 2-1 away win at Huddersfield Town. Watford, Leicester, Wolves and Everton all remain in with a shot of 7th place which will likely lead to European football next campaign however at this moment in time, it seems none of these clubs want to finish 7th. Leicester have looked sharp under Brendan Rodgers yet after defeat against Newcastle and a draw against the Hammers, 7th place may now be out of sight.

Although the Foxes are only one point off 7th currently, both Wolves and Watford have a game in hand over Leicester, as do Everton who host Manchester United at Goodison Park Sunday. Although three games still remain, the Foxes play Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea in their last three games and picking up results in these ones, especially considering how tight the title and top four races are, will be considerably difficult as will ending the season in May in that 7th spot.

Man of the Match: Michail Antonio

The 29-year-old was a constant threat for the Hammers and gave Ben Chilwell a difficult afternoon. He opened the scoring and played a part in most things good for Pellegrini’s side.

Eamon Kitching

21. Loughborough University Student developing my writing skills with 90MAAT. Leicester City fan still holding onto our 15/16 Premier League success.

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Premier League Table

# Team MP W D L P
1 Liverpool 2 2 0 0 6
2 Arsenal 2 2 0 0 6
3 Manchester City 2 1 1 0 4
4 Manchester United 2 1 1 0 4
5 Brighton & Hov… 2 1 1 0 4
6 Tottenham Hotspur 2 1 1 0 4
7 AFC Bournemouth 2 1 1 0 4
8 Sheffield United 2 1 1 0 4
9 Everton 2 1 1 0 4
10 Burnley 2 1 0 1 3
11 Norwich City 2 1 0 1 3
12 Leicester City 2 0 2 0 2
13 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 0 2 0 2
14 Crystal Palace 2 0 1 1 1
15 Chelsea 2 0 1 1 1
16 West Ham United 2 0 1 1 1
17 Aston Villa 2 0 0 2 0
18 Newcastle United 2 0 0 2 0
19 Southampton 2 0 0 2 0
20 Watford 2 0 0 2 0

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