Leicester vs West Ham Preview

English Premier League | King Power Stadium | Sunday 17 April | 14:30




Leicester continue to defy the odds, and are now just three wins away from their first top-flight title. They will host West Ham at the King Power Stadium on Sunday afternoon, looking to take one step closer to making history. The Hammers have been a surprise package themselves this season, and are still in with a chance of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. This one could go down to the wire as both teams have plenty to play for and even more to lose.

To Win (90mins)
Leicester 1/1
Draw 26/10
West Ham 26/10

Leicester

Leicester's remarkable surge towards the title shows no signs of slowing down after a battling 2-0 victory over relegation-threatened Sunderland. The Foxes are also guaranteed a top-four place finish following Tottenham's 3-0 win over Manchester United. Claudio Ranieri's men have now won their past five league games without conceding, picking up their 14th clean sheet of the campaign last Sunday. The supporters stayed inside the Stadium of Light well after the final whistle chanting "we're gonna win the league" and it now seems only an astonishing collapse will stop them from lifting the trophy. 

Ranieri's teary eyes following the victory only show passion, pride and joy as his team take one step closer to making history. All season, it feels as if it has been a case of the world waiting for Leicester City to slip up. Modern football is a place in which dreams melt to air; fairytales were for the 70s. And yet every time it appears they may falter, they somehow find an inner resolve that carries them through. That is why Leicester have succeeded this season: the mechanism works, and works hard. Danny Drinkwater and N'Golo Kante have been magnificent this season.  They are the engine room in the middle of the park which drives the Foxes, keeping them solid defensively, while still adding a creative edge. Against Sunderland, Kante became the first player in Europe's top five leagues to win over 100 tackles this season – showing just how vital he has been for Leicester this term. 

Riyad Mahrez is undoubtedly the Foxes chief creator in midfield – with his tricky quick feet, burst of pace and eye for goal – he is a key component to his team. Leading the line is Jamie Vardy, who took his tally for the season to 21 league goals after his brace against Sunderland last weekend – the first Leicester player to score 20 goals in top flight since Gary Lineker in 1984-85. He is always going to be a goal threat with his persistence, hard-running and fighting spirit. Vardy is just one goal behind his English compatriot Harry Kane, and he will be eager to get on the scoresheet against West Ham. 



West Ham


Andy Carroll's seven minutes and 14 second hat-trick saw West Ham come from two goals down to earn a well-deserved 3-3 draw on home soil against Arsenal last Saturday. The Hammers extended their unbeaten home run in the Premier League to 14 games (won seven, drawn seven) - the longest current run in the top flight but Slaven Bilic's side remain sixth, five points behind fourth-placed Manchester City.  

Nonetheless, West Ham can give themselves a pat on the back after earning that impressive point, and at times, it looked like they might go on to take all three points. West Ham have already beaten Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City away from home, so there is every chance of them doing the same against the league’s table-toppers. Manager Bilic has been the difference this season, changing their usual thug-like style of play to a more attractive brand of football. West Ham are playing with flair; attacking the game whenever given the chance. Cheikhou Kouyate and Mark Noble hold the fort in midfield, turning defence into dangerous attacks. 

Then there are the creative likes of Manuel Lanzini and London Player of the Year Dimitri Payet. Both have the ability to turn a game on its back, but its Payet who is the real driving force behind this team. His sensational inch perfect free-kicks, excellent footwork and skill, as well as pace and flair make him an ever-present nuisance for opposing defenders. After last Saturday’s performance against Arsenal, Carroll deserves a mention too. His hat-trick against Arsenal was the quickest in the English Premier League this season, and he will have the confidence and momentum to build on that world class performance. The big Englishman is powerful, strong on the ball, and brilliant in the air.

Probable line-ups:

Leicester: 4-4-2
Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Albrighton, Kante, Drinkwater, Mahrez; Okazaki, Vardy

West Ham: 4-2-3-1
Adrian; Antonio, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Noble, Kouyate; Lanzini, Payet, Emenike; Carroll 

Betting Verdict: Leicester WIN + BTTS (28/10)
The reverse tie ended 2-1 in favour of Leicester, so West Ham will be eager to avenge that defeat and hopefully close in on fourth place. However, Leicester have been in such great form, its difficult seeing them dropping any points, given the fact that they have won five in a row, with as many clean sheets. They are tipped to edge the win, but West Ham are likely to get a goal. Back Leicester to Win + Both Teams To Score at 28/10.

Written by Aaron Crowie