Leicester City 0-3 West Ham United
Sunday, 4th October 2020
by Chris Wilkerson
It was another glorious Sunday for West Ham United as they tore apart in-form Leicester City to earn a well-deserved 3-0 victory.Having struck four past Wolves last weekend, that makes it seven goals in two games against much-fancied teams, as well as a second clean sheet on the bounce.
The trip to the King Power looked dangerous, with Brendan Rodgers?EUR(TM) side still rolling after hitting five against Manchester City. But danger man Jamie Vardy was marshalled by Ogbonna, and marshalled into irrelevance as the Italian led by example at the back.
Assured performances at the back were vital, especially with new signing Vladimir Coufal coming straight into the starting eleven. Otherwise, the side was unchanged from the victory against Wolves, which means Diop, Cullen and the manager Moyes were all still absent.
The away side struck with the first chance of the game. It started with Balbuena, a low pass fired up the line to Antonio who twisted and turned until dragged down. He sprung to his feet and took a quick freekick, spreading the ball all the way out left for the advancing Cresswell.
Much-maligned as he is, the one-time England international set himself to cross from deep and then sent in an inch-perfect ball, meeting Antonio's run into the box and finding the striker, who quite perfectly headed the ball across goal from a tight angle to beat Kasper Schmeichel and give his side the lead.
It was the kind of counter attacking move that West Ham fans have gotten used to since Antonio moved up front and Fornals and Bowen patrolled the wider areas. And it was clearly the plan to nullify Leicester, a deep defence and a midfield that got itself organised very quickly and efficiently when moves broke down.
More pointedly, it was a plan that never looked close to failure, Leicester unable to ever really able to disrupt what Moyes had sent his team out to do. They were rewarded for their hard work and discipline with a second goal before half time. This one was rather less crafted but no less impressive.
It all started as Cresswell lumped the ball as high and far away as he could. The Leicester defence were static, but that man of perpetual motion of course was not. As it dropped out of the sky, having pierced clouds, Pablo Fornals took it down whilst on the run and played it in front of him and into the area.
The defence caught up just as Pablo shot, nestling the ball into the bottom corner with his left foot and getting himself the goal he has deserved recently.
It got to half time at 2-0, but West Ham had stayed dangerous. It was all the better to watch as the system again fit the team perfectly, Angelo Ogbonna had Vardy in his back pocket and new signing Vladimir Coufal had settled in almost instantly. Multiple times in the first half he was round on the cover just as it looked Leicester might have made themselves an opening.
As such, it was almost comforting to see Leicester given a big chance to score within 30 seconds of the restart. Things had been going too well. With how Leicester were playing, it was no surprise really to see them waste the opening even when Ogbonna and Fabianski between them had contrived to make it easy for them.
But whereas it might usually signal a change in momentum for the second half, Leicester just never looked more than blunt. Instead, there were more half chances for West Ham, with headers from Antonio and Balbuena from crosses, and Fornals denied another goal after a Jonny Evans block diverted his effort wide, all set up by great work down the right by Antonio.
The game was another one, similarly to the Wolves game, where the fear of the opposition slowly eroded for the fans as this West Ham side again were completely in control of themselves and their opposition.
It is again worth noting some individual performances. Antonio faced another high quality defence and bullied them throughout; Angelo Ogbonna was having a game of outstanding quality at the back; Declan Rice had the run of midfield; Pablo Fornals was everywhere good things happened; Aaron Cresswell may never have played so well for West Ham.
Soon Rice went ever so close. Running from inside his own half, the midfielder was always looking for a pass. Leicester blocked them, but never stopped him dribbling. Eventually, he was in the area and unleashed a shot, striking the underside of the bar and seeing the ball bounce to safety.
But where that didn't come of, he instigated the third goal. Deep inside the West Ham half, Rice looked up and, under pressure, elected not to clear, but to turn between two players and passing out to Fornals.
The Spaniard burst forward, drifting into the middle of the pitch and running at the two centre backs. He waited, saw Bowen make the perfect run and slid through a pass to match it. Bowen faced up Schmeichel and stroked it past him with aplomb, looking a natural goalscorer and a man full of confidence in his game.
Somehow, some way, West Ham had come away with six points, seven goals and two clean sheets from their games with Wolves and Leicester, this one ending an easy 3-0.
There was time for cameos from Haller and Noble, the captain moving onto 506 appearances for the club, joint seventh overall with Steve Potts.
Leicester even squealed in a late goal, a lovely passing moves that Barnes finished off, only to see the slightest of offside margins rule it out on VAR.There was no spoiling the West Ham party, going into the international break with six points where, post-Newcastle, many would have worried we'd be on zero.
David Moyes should return for the next game, but the Working From Home hero will be delighted with his players and his coaching staff for their performances in less than ideal circumstances.
Now, please, don't rest on those transfer window laurels.
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Player RatingsLukasz Fabianski
His time wasting was all he did. Easy.
Defensively very good, made two vital interceptions to cover others in the first half, and also showed attacking skill too. Great debut.
Contained himself a bit more than usual today, especially in the second half, but still threatened and notably kept the left side locked down. Castagne has been a revelation for Leicester, he was a non-entity today. One gorgeous pass worth noting in the second half.
Put him in a back five and he becomes a composed. Defensive basics nailed, he starts the move for the first goal with a lovely pass down the line.
A quite fantastic performance. In a defence that itself was brilliant, Ogbonna still stood out. Took on Vardy and silenced him, following the forward around and nullifying him everywhere. Best individual defensive performance since Collins against Suarez at Anfield. Best player on the pitch in a high quality performance.
Cresswell got nothing wrong today and everything he did worked. He?EUR(TM)s a excellent third centre back in that system, his passing smart but safe, the extra space to cross working for him. And he?EUR(TM)s tuned in defensively. Two assists too.
Excellent in front of the defence, but today it was his ability to play good football in tight areas in his own half that shone. The third goal is all down to how smart and composed he is under pressure to start a counter. Deserved a goal when dribbling from his own half and hitting the bar.
Gets through a lot of gritty work in midfield which is helping Rice have the freedom to play better passes and go forward. Four tackles, three interceptions, four clearances and a nuisance at set pieces.
Great performance even as arguably the quieter of the three front men. Works his socks off and still gets into attacking positions. The composure both in the run and the finish for his goal suggest a high quality goalscorer.
Still going unnoticed by many as how vital he is in this team. Deserved a goal recently and the ability to take that sky-high ball down and go on to score was incredible. The assist for Bowen was inch-perfect and he got through so much defensive work too.
Another day where he?EUR(TM)s terrified defenders. Not many force Jonny Evans into silly bookings. His goal came from his own smart thinking snd the header was perfect. Then, after that, he bullied the defence and ran them ragged.
(Replaced Antonio, 86) Just a cameo.
(Replaced Bowen, 86) One touch, one pass, three points.
Did not play.
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Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Vladimir Coufal, Arthur Masuaku, Fabian Balbuena, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Jarrod Bowen, Pablo Fornals, Michail Antonio.
Goals: Michail Antonio 14 Pablo Fornals 34 Jarrod Bowen 83 .
Booked: Pablo Fornals 67 Vladimir Coufal 80 .
Sent off: None.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Castagne, Amartey (Under 55), Soyuncu, Evans, Justin, Mendy (Choudhury 89), Tielemans, Perez (Iheanacho 64), Barnes, Vardy.
Subs not used: Ward, Fofana, Fuchs, Albrighton.
Booked: Mendy (24), Evans (53).
Sent off: None.
Referee: Andy Madley.
Man of the Match: Aaron Cresswell.