Premier League
Leicester City 1 West Ham United 0

Saturday, 31st December 2016
by Gordon Thrower

United's inability to break down a packed defence proved costly at the King Power Stadium as the Irons ended 2016 on a defeat.

United survived an early scare when Mahrez hit the post but came back into the game and might have taken the lead when Antonio got on the end of a Cresswell cross only to put the ball over.

The home side took the lead on 20 minutes when the under-fire Slimani escaped his marker to convert Albrighton?EUR(TM)s cross. The same player could have doubled the lead a few minutes later as he got a toe onto Gray?EUR(TM)s ball only to see the ball rebound off the advancing Randolph.

Antonio, Ayew and Payet all had efforts blocked in a goalmouth scramble on 35 minutes and five minutes later Antonio hit the bar after Payet had fed Cresswell to cross from the left. Antonio was then through on goal but found his attempt to play in Ayew blocked. Payet was upended by Huth as the ball broke free, the defender being yellow-carded as a result.

Schmeichel was equal to the free kick and United found themselves on the back foot as Ogbonna picked up a deserved yellow for a cynical tug. Randolph saved superbly from Mahrez?EUR(TM)s free-kick as an entertaining 45 minutes came to an end.

Leading one nil at the interval the home side were again fortunate to still have eleven on the pitch early in the second half as Amartey?EUR(TM)s shocking challenge left Noble pole-axed on the half way line. Referee Taylor treated Amartey with the same lenience as he had earlier done with Huth whose first half yellow could also have easily been red.

The skipper struggled on for a further ten minutes before being replaced by the returning Lanzini who was immediately involved in the action as Huth had to clear with Carroll threatening.

The Irons made their second change of the afternoon as Feghouli replaced Ayew and he was immediately brought down by Albrighton in a challenge that brought forth the third yellow card of the day.
Cresswell?EUR(TM)s low effort from the free kick found Schmeichel in good form making a fine save low to his left.

Nordveit became the fourth player carded when his challenge on Chilwell caught the defender in the ribcage, Taylor possibly having the two other possible red cards in mind in only issuing a yellow when a red would not have been a srprise. Schmeichel became the fifth player cautioned for complaining.

It was a busy day for Taylor as Simpson was cautioned for bringing down Antonio and Lanzini made it seven in the book for a similar challenge a minute later.

Although dominant in the second half, clear chances for United were few and far between, Carroll?EUR(TM)s header from Cresswell?EUR(TM)s cross going a few feet wide. Randolph, largely a spectator in the second half, saved well from a late Chilwell shot and for all the pressure there was always the chance of a breakaway from the home side.

Ogbonna had a header cleared away halfway through the 6 minutes of stoppage time but the home side who had shut up shop very early in the second half held out to take all three points.

So a disappointing end to the year for United for whom this match highlighted the need for a striker as, despite monopolising possession in the second half, the lack of a cutting edge proved to be decisive.

So the Hammers end 2016 in 13th place. Next up will Manchester United at the Olympic Stadium with a 5.15 kick off on Bank Holiday Monday (2nd January 2017).

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Player Ratings

Darren Randolph
Looked solid with one fine save and quite a few more routine ones.

Cheikhou Kouyate
Our lack of defensive capability on the right saw him covering two or three positions at once. Not bad under the circumstances.

Aaron Cresswell
Still some way from his best and that back pass was a shocker.

Winston Reid
Given a hard time by Mbokana. It probably ended up all square.

Angelo Ogbonna
When Mbokana wasn?EUR(TM)t tormenting Reid he moved on to Ogbonna with similar results.

Pedro Obiang
Slightly unfortunate to be hooked at half-time but something had to change.

Michail Antonio
As the game progressed he became more and more of a threat. Went down a bit too easy for the penalty for my liking though. Not something I?EUR(TM)m keen on.

Mark Noble
Stuttered a bit. A few good minutes here a dodgy moment there. Judged that header on to the post to perfection. Didn?EUR(TM)t he?

Andy Carroll
More of an influence defensively than as a striker, which, in case you had forgotten, is what he is there for.

Manuel Lanzini
Not at all unfortunate to be hooked at half time because something had to change.

Dimitri Payet
Anonymous for an hour. Better in the last 30.


Edimilson Fernandes
A decent half.

Andre Ayew
Still not sure where he is supposed to really be playing but was much more influential than Lanzini and was unlucky not to score.

Havard Nordtveit
Brought on to run down the clock.

Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo
Did not play.

Reece Burke
Did not play.

Lewis Page
Did not play.

Josh Cullen
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Darren Randolph, Cheikhou Kouyate, Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna, Pedro Obiang, Michail Antonio, Mark Noble, Andy Carroll, Manuel Lanzini, Dimitri Payet.

Goals: None.

Booked: Angelo Ogbonna 45 Håvard Nordtveit 71 Manuel Lanzini 84      .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan ©, Huth, Chilwell, Amartey, Drinkwater, Albrighton, Mahrez (Fuchs 70), Gray (Okazaki 80), Slimani (Ulloa 83).

Subs not used: Zieler (GK), Musa, King, Mendy.

Goals: Slimani (20).

Booked: Schmeichel (72), Simpson (83), Huth (44), Albrighton (66), Amartey (47).

Sent off: None.

Referee: Anthony Taylor.

Attendance: 32,060.

Man of the Match: Darren Randolph.