We preview Saturday's EPL tie between West Ham United and Leicester City.
The supposed film that is being made about the Leicester City story is going to be longer than The Lord of the Rings if they don’t just quit it and become ordinary for a minute. Their season has had all the twists and turns of a Spanish soap opera, complete with tails of betrayal and scheming. Their victory over Sevilla was their third consecutive victory under Craig Shakespeare - could there be a better name for their new manager considering the drama unfolding? They will be hoping to solidify their resurgence this weekend against an equally unpredictable West Ham side. Slaven Bilic’s side will be disappointed in the manner they surrendered points against a struggling Bournemouth. It was just the type of game that was screaming out for some Payet quality.
West Ham United v Leicester City | Saturday 18 March | Olympic Stadium | 17:00
To Win (90 Mins)
West Ham 12/10 | Draw 23/10 | Leicester 43/20
Injury has prevented Bilic from operating with the system that I think he wound ideally prefer, with Ogbonna’s absence meaning that the in vogue 3-4-3 formation has been waylaid. It also seems that Robert Snodgrass is quite a doubt after picking up an injury in that Watford game, which will likely see the industrious Feghouli come into the side. To be fair, Snodgrass has been disappointing in the last few games and could do with a little break. Even his trademark dead-ball delivery has been somewhat lacking.
Cresswell had an absolute shocker against Watford and will have the twinkle-toed pyrotechnics of a reinvigorated Riyad Mahrez to deal with. Andy Carroll will find it harder to physically dominate Huth and Morgan, while Lanzini will have the attentions of Ndidi to deal with. Obiang is going to need to have a blinder on defence whilst simultaneously looking for those killer passes that have become a staple of his play in the last few weeks.
Leicester will be keen to move on from European bliss and truly cement their place in mid-table safety. You can kind of see what Shakespeare has done. It’s been a complete reversion to the style that not only saw them win the title last year, but survive the drop the year before. A roughly hewn, passionate Nigel Pearson approach is what has reinvigorated the squad. Okazaki’s consistent pestering provides the perfect foil for Vardy’s desire to get in behind defences.
While Gray was their best player throughout the beginning of the season, he was really emblematic of their issues. He was a luxury player who never felt the desire to track back, which is kind of counterintuitive to the spirit of the club. Vardy will be able to find space against a West Ham side that doesn’t have defensive cohesion. Additionally, Noble is a tad ill-suited to prevent Mahrez and Vardy from making deep runs.
The Verdict: Both Sides to Score and Over 2.5 Goals Total 1/1
West Ham’s defence has had the structural integrity of a game of Jenga in recent weeks. Vardy will provide pace to get in behind while Mahrez terrorises Cresswell. Having said all that, West Ham are always a threat going forward and could exploit a Leicester side suffering from post-European euphoria.
Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets