David Hautzig's Match Report

Leicester City 1, West Ham United 0. Slight Reality Check To Ring In New Year.

“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you”.

So said Satchel Paige, a star pitcher in Negro League baseball who eventually, at the age of 42, became the youngest rookie in the history of the Major Leagues. He played until he was 47.

For the vast majority of my time in Claret & Blue, I’ve looked back. Or shall I say down, because the distance between us and the relegation zone has been the measure of our success. Last year was a wonderful, notable exception, and other than the first month I enjoyed it immensely. With the recent accumulation of points, it would be tempting to have a glance up. But I can’t do it. Because if I do, if I start wondering how high we can fly as opposed to staying concerned about our dreams fading and dying, then things will start to go wrong. And it will be my fault for tempting the football gods.

Bilic named an unchanged starting eleven from the win at Swansea, and while it’s understandable it’s equally harsh on Obiang. Who would sit to make room for the Spaniard?

I’m not going there…..

Leicester turned the art of counter attacking football into a title last season, and even with Vardy suspended their modus operandi was front and center in the second minute when a long ball to Slimani was fed into the box for Mahrez who forced a good save from Randolph. Two minutes later, the Man Of The Match against Hull came through again when Albrighton raced down the right and sent a cross to Slimani, whose header clanged off the post. It should be noted, I think, that Payet was supposed to mark the run of Albrighton but chose to watch him instead.

Antonio was able to give West Ham a respite from the Leicester barrage by winning a free kick thirty yards from goal. The free kick was low, but Antonio was able to win a corner. Payet’s delivery was good, but Carroll mistimed his jump and the ball glanced his Bun as opposed to clanging off his forehead.

West Ham missed a glorious opportunity in the 11th minute when Cresswell sent in a fantastic cross that snaked through three Leicester defenders and right to Antonio. But the Hammers leading goal scorer was more surprised than anyone the ball found him and he shinned his effort over the bar.

For the past few years, we were constantly linked with two players. Tore and Slimani. I’m not going to act like I knew one move would have been better than the other, and today is the first time I’ve ever watched Slimani play. Based on the opening twenty minutes, we had reason for regret. In the 20th minute, with Payet again watching Albrighton speed down the right, the man without an assist so far this season sent a perfect cross to the far post that Slimani headed home, and for only the fifth time all season Leicester City were in the lead.

Leicester City 1
West Ham 0

Right around the 30th minute, West Ham had a few minutes of possession. Lots of passes side to side, a few backwards. Yet nobody moved forward to offer a target for a pass. Eventually, a simple pass from Noble to Payet rolled out and the possession was over.

Despite the disjointed attack and weak defending, West Ham should have gone level in the 37th minute when a broken play came close to landing in the back of the net. A through ball to Antonio was intercepted by Simpson, but right into the path of Payet on the left side of the Leicester eighteen yard box. Payet’s shot was saved by Scmeichel but the rebound rolled to Ayew ten yards in front of goal. The West Ham record signing couldn’t sort out his feet and after some pinball wizardry Leicester cleared. Minutes later, after some superb interplay between Cresswell and Payet, the West Ham left back sent a superb cross that Antonio volleyed off the bar.

Leicester came storming back on one of their trademark counters, and Slimani looked a dead cert to double the Leicester lead when Albrighton sent a cross to the Algerian but Nordtveit timed his defensive challenge so perfectly one would think we was an actual, well, right back.

With the game wide open at that point, West Ham broke with numbers. Antonio charged down the right like a locomotive, with Ayew breaking into the box. Antonio tried to thread a pass to Ayew in front of goal but Simpson put a leg to it and West Ham couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity.

In the final minutes of the opening forty five, the sides traded yellow cards and free kicks. First Huth was booked for a crunching tackle on Payet, and the Frenchman forced a good save from Schmeichel. When Leicester broke on a counter with Gray and Slimani, Ogbonna gave a master class on cynical fouling when he reached back and simply pulled Gray down from behind. Randolph then showed why he has replaced Adrian as the number one keeper when he dove to palm Mahrez’s free kick over the bar. His positioning and reaction were pure quality.

Halftime
Leicester City 1
West Ham 0

In the opening minutes of the second half, Leicester were more than a little lucky to still have their full complement of players on the pitch when Amartey went into a challenge on Noble with his boot closer to our captains nose than the ball before it slammed into his knee. Lanzini was told to get ready, but Noble carried on for a little while before The Jewel entered the match.

At least from a ball possession perspective, West Ham began the second half brightly. Considering that we often have begun second halves slowly, just avoiding a quick second goal by the home side was a bit of a relief. But the lack of movement up front often meant that attacks ended before they could begin.

The addition of Lanzini did signal that West Ham were going to push forward. With Ayew somewhat ineffective, Bilic added Feghouli to the mix in the hope of providing more service to the big man in the middle. Moments after entering the game, Feghouli won a free kick just outside the Leicester eighteen yard box. Cresswell stepped up to take it, and his low drive took a deflection and came an inch away from leveling the match but Schmeichel was able to go low and make the save.

In the 71st minute, referee Anthony Taylor officially lost control of the match when Nordtveit slammed into Chilwell with a move that would have been more than normal in UFC or maybe WWE. But in football, such karate kicks normally see red. And just as Amartey didn’t deserve to still be playing, neither did Nordtveit.

West Ham won two quick corners in the 74th minute. Both taken by Payet, and both utterly useless. The first, like most of the other corners taken by the visitors today, didn’t clear the first man and the second flew like a plane with one wing.

To both managers credit, they made positive changes in the late stages. Bilic added the lively Fernandes, while Ranieri threw on Okazaki and Ulloa in search of a second goal.

West Ham won another free kick in a dangerous area in the 83rd minute when Simpson dragged down Antonio on the left side. Payet stepped up to take the free kick, and yet again it caused Leicester City no bother at all. Moments later Carroll had his only look at goal all day when Cresswell found him in front of Schmeichel. Carroll tried to beat the Leicester keeper to the near post but sent his header wide.

The hosts came close to doubling their lead in the final minutes of normal time and effectively ending the match but a good defensive header by Nordtveit and then a block by Reid in the box kept West Ham in the game.

In the third of six minutes of added time, Antonio won a corner off of Simpson and this time the delivery at least found a West Ham player in Ogbonna but his header was cleared away by the man who allowed the chance in the first place, Simpson. A minute later, Antonio tried to hit Carroll in the box with a cross but Schmeichel came out to intercept, with a scrape from Carroll’s hand across his face as a reminder of how crazy it is to be a goalkeeper.

Final Score
Leicester City 1
West Ham 0

West Ham showed lots of endeavor and energy after going down a goal, and despite not finishing one of the few chances they created or asking enough difficult questions in general, the performance was far better than the wins against either Burnley or Hull. On another day, Antonio’s shot goes in and Cresswell’s free kick is an inch more to the left. Yes, Leicester could have been up two or three before the twenty minute mark, but overcoming that dominance as well as the goal is still enough of a positive to allow me to enjoy the rest of my day and evening instead of wallowing in defeat. Well, I’ll wallow a bit. It’s what I do best.

Happy New Year.

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Match Thread

Match Thread: Leicester City v West Ham

Leicester City v West Ham
FA Premier League
King Power Stadium
KO 3pm
TV: None
Radio: WHUFC.com

Please use this thread to comment on the match as it progresses.


Lineup Prediction

Lineup Prediction: Leicester City v West Ham

Randolph, Nordtveit, Cresswell, Reid, Ogbonna, Kouyate, Obiang, Noble, Antonio, Payet, Carroll

Subs: Adrian, Oxford, Fernandes, Fletcher, Feghouli, Lanzini, Ayew

I suppose the big question is whether we will stick to the 4-4-2 formation that was so successful against Swansea or we revert to 3-4-3. Given that Collins is still injured and Oxford is only just back in training, I think we’ll probably stay with 4-4-2. This means Kouyate and Obiang could well start together in midfield for what I imagine would be only the second or third time. My worry about that is that they are quite similar and might get in each other’s way a bit. I suspect the formation might actually develop into a 4-5-1 with Noble playing just in front of the defence but behind Kouyate and Obiang, allowing them both to drive forward on occasion. However, this formation gives us very little width, apart from Antonio, which doesn’t play to Carroll’s strength. Ayew would be unlucky to lose his starting place given his performance at Swansea, but would you really pick him over Lanzini? So many headaches for Slaven. Whoever he picks for the first team, it could be the strongest bench we have had for a long time.

If we win this, we’ll be on 25 points, but Leicester are no mugs at home. This time last year we had 29 points, but we had scored 5 goals fewer and conceded 9 fewer. By the end of today we could be in 8th – that’s exactly where we were last season after 19 games. So perhaps this season hasn’t been quite as bad as we all feel.

You have until 1.55pm to enter the Predictor League

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Talking Point

Ten new year's resolutions that will make you a world class board

Note from Iain: Jonny Madderson is the man behind the video with a message for the Board, which we had on the site just before Christmas. This is hopefully the first of many pieces he will be writing for WHTID. Please give him a warm welcome.

The festive season is a time for coming together and the Board’s New Year’s Resolution is a step in the right direction. Although we are more than a ‘small number’ of unhappy fans, we should welcome your words. Now it’s time for action. KUMB have addressed specific ideas to make the stadium better. Here are 10 things you can do to bring the club and the fans together and make sure 2017 is a positive, upbeat, united year for the club.

1. Put the football first

Building a successful football team renowned for an exciting style of play is a priority for 2017. In the previous transfer window you failed to sign any of your major targets. January is a chance to put this right.

2. Listen to the fans

West Ham’s most powerful asset is the fan base – but currently we aren’t being heard. Social media is alive with positive ideas from fans trying to make things better (read the KUMB 10 pointer or any one of PC Hammer’s posts). An independent supporters group – separate from the SAB – that meets twice a season with the board, would formalise a meaningful dialogue to create change.

3. Show some heart

Making Tony Carr redundant. Cutting off the family businesses entwined with Upton Park. It all seems so remote and ruthless. To be a community club, you need to care for the people around you in word and in deed.

4. Be honest

When you said that the migration was “the most successful in history” and that “other clubs are jealous” it alienated us because we knew it wasn’t true – not yet anyway. If you spin everything we’ll never believe you, but if you are straight with us you’ll find we are far more supportive.

5. Improve West Ham’s public image

Let’s be done with your outspoken presence across Twitter, Talksport, The Sun columns etc etc.. It’s not professional and it isn’t likeable. It makes West Ham seem like the small lairy bloke in the pub trying to have a pop. Your energy would be better applied working hard behind the scenes while charismatic football people like Slaven Bilic and Mark Noble fly the flag for us in public.

6. Stay true to our roots

The club’s recent ‘History begins’ message was a turn off. Perhaps you think we are deluded in our reverence of the past. But all that folklore and legend gives us our identity and needs to be cherished.

Let’s not whitewash the years of hurt away either. Failure is part of West Ham’s identity – just as it is for Man City, or Andy Murray. And like them, let’s use failure as a strength. It means we have something to prove. Let’s not talk ourselves up and pretend we’re the no.1 London club. We are underdogs on a mission. That’s a powerful narrative for players and fans to get behind, and it’ll make the triumphs all the sweeter when we get there.

7. Rethink London United

Heritage and authenticity must be important pillars of your drive to develop the West Ham brand. That’s why the whole London thing has fallen completely flat with those who matter most – your fanbase. We don’t identify with it. It’s generic at the very moment we should be celebrating what makes us different. We are an East London club – let’s be proud of it.

8. Deliver on your “affordable football” promise

Your commitment to this is admirable and you can still do more. £4.50 for a pie. £40 to become an Academy Member before you buy a single ticket. That’s expensive. You negotiated an amazingly cheap rent, doing more to share around the upside would go a long way.

9. Take inspiration from outside football

The Olympic Stadium will never have the raw character of Upton Park, but we can create a different kind of atmosphere; one that feels uniquely and proudly West Ham. London 2012 and Rugby World Cup 2015 were both brilliantly and imaginatively organised events with uplifting atmospheres. Being there felt like a carnival. Some of this was fan led, but much of it was fostered by the environment and initiatives that the organisers created. West Ham shouldn’t feel like going to a rugby match – but there is much to be learned from the ideas behind the success of those events.

10. Print out this John Lyall quote and stick it up on your office wall

“West Ham, I discovered, was my sort of club. It belongs to its own patch in East London, a local club in the best sense, with a crowd that is second to none. The West Ham fans identify with the players and there is a genuine relationship between them; they all belong to the same family.” – John Lyall

That is a spirit that runs through the best of West Ham and connects with every fan, whether you’re from Newham, Romford Miami or Shanghai. If you put that ethos at the heart of developing a 21st century football club then the future of West Ham United could be very exciting.

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Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Leicester v West Ham

Blast from the past

Back in 1999/2000, West Ham United were in the midst of a season which had seen them earn UEFA Cup football, by virtue of winning the InterToto Cup, and been third in the league after five games but the campaign had started to unravel. Without a win since the end of November and out of the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup, the Hammers finally registered their first win of the new millennium on the 22nd January 2000 by beating Leicester City 3-1 at Filbert Street in front of 19,019. Manic Street Preachers were number one with ‘The Masses Against The Classes’ and Sleepy Hollow was in UK cinemas as Paulo and Paolo secured the three points.

The Hammers took the lead on 13 minutes when Frank Lampard played a pass into the penalty area for Paulo Wanchope to steer home his first goal in ten games. The Foxes were depleted by injuries (defender Tommy Goodwin made his only appearance for the club in this game) but were level just 11 minutes later when Emile Heskey was allowed to run at the Hammers’ defence before rifling a shot beyond the injured Shaka Hislop, who was replaced two minutes later by Craig Forrest.

The Irons would be forced into a second change before half-time when a challenge from Greek midfielder Theo Zagorakis left Steve Lomas grounded with a leg injury, which saw him replaced by Michael Carrick after 38 minutes. Carrick’s shot four minutes into first-half stoppage time was intercepted by Wanchope who drove through the legs of Pegguy Arphexad from a tight angle to give West Ham the lead at the interval.

Wanchope (pictured above) turned provider in the second half, sending the ball out to Paolo Di Canio on the left of the penalty area – the Italian jinked his way beyond two defenders before dispatching the ball into the bottom corner with 60 minutes played. Di Canio was later denied by Arphexad and, after beating three defenders, also saw an effort headed off the line by Phil Gilchrist. The 3-1 scoreline was enough to see the Hammers record their first away league win since late August and overtake the Foxes into eighth place in the Premier League table.

Alongside Goodwin, Jordan Stewart also made his Leicester debut that day and went on to make 127 appearances for the Foxes until his departure for Watford in 2005. Stuart Campbell and Joe Cole were midfield opponents in this match – Campbell is now Cole’s manager at Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Harry Redknapp’s West Ham would end the season in ninth position, while Martin O’Neill’s Leicester would finish eighth and win the League Cup. Manchester United won the league title, Chelsea won the FA Cup and Di Canio was voted Hammer of the Year, with Trevor Sinclair runner-up.

Leicester City: Pegguy Arphexad, Frank Sinclair, Phil Gilchrist, Matt Elliott, Tommy Goodwin, Darren Eadie, Theo Zagorakis (Jordan Stewart), Stuart Campbell, Arnar Gunnlaugsson (Danny Thomas), Emile Heskey, Graham Fenton.

West Ham United: Shaka Hislop (Craig Forrest), Rio Ferdinand, Neil Ruddock, Javier Margas, Trevor Sinclair, Frank Lampard, Steve Lomas (Michael Carrick), Joe Cole, Marc Keller (Scott Minto), Paulo Wanchope, Paolo Di Canio.

Club Connections

Players who have represented both the Hammers and the Foxes include:

Goalkeepers: George Hebden, Colin Mackleworth.

Defenders: John Pantsil, Gary Charles, Chris Powell, Rufus Brevett, Paul Konchesky, Dai Jones, Matthew Upson, Billy Oakes.

Midfielders: Andy Impey, Shaun Newton, Nolberto Solano, Franz Carr, Sid Bishop.

Strikers: David Connolly, Mike Newell, Brian Deane, Paul Kitson, Norman Proctor, Les Ferdinand, David Kelly, Tony Cottee, Jimmy Quinn.

Frank O’Farrell, Martin Allen and Jimmy Bloomfield have played for the Hammers and managed the Foxes.

Today’s focus though is on a player who only played a total of five matches for West Ham United and Leicester City. Clive Clarke was born in Dublin on the 14th January 1980 and started his career at Stoke, where he played 264 matches and won two full caps for Ireland before joining Alan Pardew’s West Ham United in July 2005 for a fee of £275,000.

Although primarily a left-back and signed as cover for fellow new signing and future Fox Paul Konchesky, none of Clarke’s appearances for the Hammers were in his favoured position. The 25-year-old made his debut on the left side of midfield in a 1-0 defeat at Bolton in the third round of the League Cup on 26th October 2005 but had to wait until 1st February 2006 for his first Premier League appearance, at right-back in the famous 3-2 win at Arsenal in which he came up against Thierry Henry in the Gunners’ final defeat at their old Highbury home. Clarke’s final game in claret and blue was his home debut, again playing on the left side of midfield in a 4-2 defeat to Portsmouth at Upton Park on the 18th March 2006. After just three appearances for West Ham, he moved to Sunderland in August 2006 in a deal that saw George McCartney move to East London.

After four appearances for the Wearsiders, Clarke moved to Coventry for a three-month loan spell. He joined Leicester at the age of 27, then managed by another former Hammer in Martin Allen, in another three-month loan deal in August 2007 but in a League Cup second round tie at Nottingham Forest, just twelve days and two matches into his loan spell, Clarke collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest in the changing rooms at the City Ground causing the match to be abandoned at half-time. Five days after the incident, Clarke told the BBC:

“I remember feeling a bit lethargic on the field in the first half, and I was involved in a collision with our goalkeeper Paul Henderson, which led to their goal. I sat quietly in a corner of the dressing room and felt a bit queasy. I can recall [team-mate and centre-half] Patrick Kisnorbo talking to me, but it wasn’t really registering. Then I just passed out. When I was told what had happened, the blood drained from my body. I just thought I could have been dead and that I might never have seen my family again”.

Clarke never played professional football again, returning to Sunderland as scheduled in November 2007 and leaving the Black Cats by mutual consent in February 2008 on medical advice. Now 36, Clarke is a managing director of JPA Worldwide, a management and marketing service in the professional sports industry.

Referee

The referee on New Year’s Eve will be Anthony Taylor – the Hammers were allocated the 38-year-old on five occasions last season as he took charge of our defeat at Tottenham, as well as our home win over Newcastle which came just three games after he had controversially sent off Adrian against Leicester. He was also the man in the middle for our FA Cup third round win over Wolves and our 3-2 win at Everton in March. Most recently, Taylor took charge of our 2-0 defeat at Everton in October and our 2-1 defeat at Chelsea in August, awarding the home side a penalty and later controversially failing to issue a second yellow card to Diego Costa for an awful lunge at Adrian – Costa remained on the pitch to score the 89th-minute winner.

Indeed, controversy and incident are never far away when the Cheshire-based official is the referee for a West Ham United match. Taylor is the referee who had not one, but two red cards rescinded from the same game after he had sent off Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson in the Hammers’ 2-1 home defeat to Everton in December 2012. He sent off the home side’s Kevin Mirallas against the Hammers at Goodison Park in March and awarded the Toffees a penalty which Romelu Lukaku saw saved by Adrian.

Possible line-ups

Leicester City have no injury concerns but Claudio Ranieri will be without suspended England striker Jamie Vardy. Ranieri rested Danny Drinkwater and Riyad Mahrez against Everton on Boxing Day and changes could be in store for the Foxes. Leicester are unbeaten in their last four matches against the Hammers in all competitions, while West Ham have not recorded a Premier League win away at Leicester since this preview’s featured match, in January 2000.

For West Ham United, Sam Byram, Reece Oxford, Manuel Lanzini and Simone Zaza are back in training and Pedro Obiang returns from suspension. Alvaro Arbeloa is out for a few more weeks with a badly bruised leg which has put him on crutches since the Arsenal match while fellow full-back Arthur Masuaku is several weeks away from a return after suffering a knee injury in training. James Collins returns to training next week after a calf strain but Gokhan Tore and Diafra Sakho are out for months after knee and back surgery respectively. Michail Antonio will miss the home match against Manchester United on Monday if he is booked at Leicester – New Year’s Eve is the cut-off point for receiving a ban though so Antonio will not receive a suspension for five bookings after that date. West Ham have only won two of their last ten Premier League away games. The Hammers have only won once at the home of a reigning Premier League champion, when Jermain Defoe scored the only goal of the game at Manchester United in December 2001. The Irons have drawn one (at Chelsea in March) and lost 18 of their other matches away to reigning title-holders.

Possible Leicester City XI: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Schlupp; Mahrez, Mendy, Drinkwater, Albrighton; Slimani, Musa.

Possible West Ham United XI: Randolph; Kouyate, Reid, Ogbonna; Antonio, Obiang, Noble, Cresswell; Ayew, Carroll, Payet.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!

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