Leicester City 4 West Ham United 1
Wednesday, 22nd January 2020
by Chris Wilkerson
West Ham were comfortably beaten at the King Power Stadium this evening, surrendering meekly to a 4-1 defeat.A 20 minute spell of second-half fight for West Ham could not mask just how easily Leicester controlled the other 70, easily putting a quite pathetic West Ham to the sword.
Set up to frustrate the hosts, David Moyes could only watch as his West Ham side played a pathetic opening 45 minutes that made any second half resurgence too high a mountain to climb.
In December, Manuel Pellegrini was sacked as his charges were embarrassed by a Leicester reserve side; this was arguably worse.
The home side lost two players to first half injury, including top scorer and talisman Jamie Vardy. It mattered little.
In a first half where West Ham had only 28% of possession, there never appeared any ambition to win this game of football. There was no shot on target.
It appeared to be the plan to let Leicester have the ball anywhere they wanted outside the area. That rhythm, by design or not, started almost immediately and never abated.
Unsurprisingly to anyone who has seen the two sides this season, Leicester?EUR(TM)s attack needed not be brilliant. West Ham?EUR(TM)s defence was anything but.
More than anything, it was boring. Leicester scored twice without a hint of their best performances. It was about all that happened as West Ham shuffled from side to side, their five man defence often aided by all eleven players found 30 yards from their own goal.
It gave Leicester all the impetus, and whilst they were far from flying, eventually the pressure told.
Passing around the area, Pereira was left free on the right of the area as Cresswell tried and failed to mark two men.
The right back ran at Randolph, who came out to save, only for Pereira to poke it across goal for Harvey Barnes to roll into an empty net.
It had been a chastening opening 25 minutes, the hosts with 78% possession and scoring a goal without any challenge.
Hope came when talisman and leading scorer Jamie Vardy was forced off with a hamstring injury.
But Leicester are a team, and West Ham were not in any fit shape to try unsettle Leicester.
Going into stoppage time, Cresswell made a fantastic challenge as last man to keep the deficit at one, but West Ham made sure that intervention was in vain.
Moments later, Barnes had the ball on the left of the penalty area with his head up. He saw a sea of space on the right of the penalty area and rolled the ball into run of Pereira. He was left alone, Cresswell defending in the box and Masuaku mindlessly drifting somewhere out of position, unaware that defending could be done.
This time, the marauding right back didn?EUR(TM)t need to find a pass, instead blasting the ball beyond Randolph and driving Leicester into a two-goal lead at half time.
Moyes reacted, a double change at the break as Snodgrass and Masuaku were withdrawn, the latter likely unaware of the score anyway, with Fornals and a returning Antonio thrown into the fray.
15 seconds later, Antonio had made an impact, reacting to Haller?EUR(TM)s flick to blast over inside the area. It could have been finished better, but it was more in seconds than West Ham had offered in a whole half of football.
His energy frightened Leicester and gave West Ham a threat on the front foot.
And the visitors were handed an opening back into the game from the penalty spot in the 49th minute, Haller clumsily impeded and softly falling in the area.
Noble despatched coolly, passing it down the middle as an angry Schmeichel dived early. It made the West Ham captain the player involved in the most Premier League goals for the club.
Suddenly, Leicester were nervous and withdrawn. In contrast, West Ham grew confident, using Antonio?EUR(TM)s movement to add a new dimension to their play.
A flurry of corners was to follow, Cresswell whipping in balls as the West Ham targets stood inside the six yard box and penned Leicester in.
It looked dangerous, and nearly caused an equaliser. Antonio?EUR(TM)s blank range backheel was blocked 3 yards from goal by the shins of Schmeichel.
Leicester appeared to be rocked, but that ended up as the only shot on target that Moyes?EUR(TM)s side could produce in the entire game.
The pressure didn?EUR(TM)t force a goal, and with that the fear in Leicester faded.
With the fear gone, they started to create chances. Iheanacho could have scored, Perez was denied by Randolph after shooting tamely before the goalkeeper saved beautifully first from Maddison and then with great reactions to cut out a cross that was destined for Iheanacho and a simple tap-in.
In between this, West Ham turned a counter attack where they had a three-on-two break into a back pass to Randolph.
Eventually they were punished.
Iheanacho turned Ogbonna with ease 40 yards from goal and ran at the area. He skipped past Diop and into the box, only for Ogbonna to haul him down. The Italian did get the ball, but went through the man to get it. It was certainly not as soft as the penalty West Ham had been awarded.
Perez smashed it in, and West Ham crumbled. Leicester flew forward for the remaining ten minutes, the odd foray up field for the away side a case of Antonio trying hard and seeing a lifeless team making minimal effort to support him.
With a minute remaining, Perez drove home a fourth as Iheanacho reacted to a loose cross and laid off for another goal of far too much ease.
Whilst some West Ham fans can point to a twenty minute spell of pressure, outside of that period the side offered nothing.
The collapse of the second half was atrocious, yet should still fall into the shadow of how pathetic their first half had been.
The Hammers stay 17th, but with Liverpool to play twice and Manchester City once in the next four league games, and a goal difference now only three better than Bournemouth, the situation continues to go from bad to worse.
22 days into the January transfer window, a second choice goalkeeper has been acquired. A stretched and lacking squad has been given no real improvement.
The manner of the defeat could crush the optimism from even the sanguine West Ham fan. Nothing will be pretty from here.
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Player RatingsRoberto Jimenez Gago
Not the greatest way to start his West Ham spell. Conceded four, probably could've done a little better with the last.
Enjoyed a productive opening 45 minutes, making several forays down the wing. A little less efective once City brought their big players on at the break.
No notable error. Good to see Pellegrini taking a closer look at his in pre-season.
One vital error that led to City's third goal, as he conceded possession cheaply and unnecessary. As you might expect from a youngster.
Still looking a little clumsy and conceded the penalty that put Manchester City ahead.
Not involved to any great degree but made several decent interceptions and kept it simple.
It seems his legs still haven't gone - and he's looking like a leader in every game.
A decent half from the Brazilian winger, who gave one or two City defenders nightmares in the opening stages.
A decent first half but like many others, faded after the break.
Fit again and it showed - and long may that remain the case.
A real busy bee in the 45 minutes he played as the lone striker - a role to be filled by the club's record signing upon returning from China.
(Replaced Rice) A pretty horrible appearance, in which he was responsible for the final City goal and lucky not to concede a (fairly clear) penalty.
(Replaced Wilshere) Largely anonymous against the better City players.
(Replaced Rice) "I'll be like a new signing!" he (sort of) said last week. And he was a bit. Unlucky not to score with an effort that rattled the post.
(Replaced Antonio) Not really involved although one 25-yard free kick nearly caught City unawares.
(Replaced Fredericks) The old boy endured a bit of a torrid time against City's attack in the second half.
(Replace Johnson) No more effective that young Johnson, who he replaced.
It may well be his final appearance in claret and blue, the lack of notable effort was evident. * Other subs used: Grady Diangana (Lanzini 62); Winston Reid (Ogbonna 68).
Match FactsWest Ham United: Roberto Jimenez Gago, Ryan Fredericks, Ben Johnson, Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Mark Noble, Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, Jack Wilshere, Michail Antonio.
Goals: Mark Noble 25 .
Sent off: None.
Leicester City: .
Subs not used: .
Sent off: None.
Man of the Match: Ryan Fredericks.