Leicester City ended 2016 in style as they took down West Ham 1-0 at the King Power. The scoreline really doesn't do the game justice. We had everything from near-screamers to the attempted murder of Ben Chilwell. It really was an eventful end to 2016 for both sides.
The Foxes came into the match with a change in formation, playing a 4-2-3-1, with Riyad Mahrez playing just behind his countryman Islam Slimani. Many fans weren't impressed to see the classic 4-4-2 go, but with Jamie Vardy suspended, playing two forwards with similar attributes like Slimani and Leo Ulloa is just setting yourself up for failure.
Instantly, this change seemed to throw West Ham off, as Leicester could've easily bagged a couple goals.
Danny Drinkwater dictated the play in the opening 20 minutes, distributing the ball wide and stretching the West Ham defence to the point they were basically defending for their lives.
Slimani nearly grabbed the opener a mere 3 minutes into the match, getting his head on an excellent cross from Marc Albrighton, only for the header to smash against the post.
After almost 20 minutes of sustained pressure, Leicester finally capitalized. Drinkwater was once again at the centre of it all, with some excellent movement. He played a smart ball out to Albrighton, who had all the time in the world to put in the perfect cross, which found the head of Slimani to make it 1-0 to the Foxes.
From there it was all about grabbing a second. West Ham were really struggling to adapt to Leicester's rapid pressure, constantly misplacing passes and making things rather easy for the Foxes.
Slimani nearly found himself in after a flick from Drinkwater left him with an excellent chance to go through on goal, only for the play to be flagged offside in the 32nd minute, and from there things got a bit dicey.
Anthony Taylor had an absolute shocker today, awarding free kicks to the visitors at a rapid rate, often times for minimal contact, while giving nothing at the other end, unless blatantly obvious. West Ham used these free kicks to finally get some sustained pressure in the area.
A mad scramble in the Leicester box almost resulted in a goal for West Ham. Kasper Schmeichel pulled off an excellent save to deny Payet before Danny Simpson put in a crucial block to deny a shot into the open goal.
Unfortunately, that chance had West Ham looking far more confident with their attack. Cresswell proved a constant threat with his crosses, one in the 41st minute finding the foot of Antonio, whose spectacular volley smashed against the crossbar, much to the relief of the Leicester faithful.
The Foxes really should've finished it in the 43rd minute, breaking in numbers, Albrighton putting the ball on a plate for Slimani, only for Nordtveit get a foot on it, saving what would have been a certain goal.
Leicester really should have had 2 or 3, but went into the break with a fairly fragile 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately from there the game descended into madness, starting with Daniel Amartey cynically fouling Noble in the 47th minute. There's no question, it was a straight red, and looked pretty intentional, the Ghanaian wildly attacking the ball, only to completely miss and follow through rather deliberately. How Taylor missed that, we'll never know.
From there, it was all West Ham. Leicester pretty much parked the bus, keeping 10 bodies behind the ball at all times, and looking for a quick goal on the counter.
Thankfully, Leicester weathered the storm fairly well, West Ham's best chance coming in the 68th minute, after Cresswell's free kick took a slight deflection off Ben Chilwell, only for Schmeichel to expertly readjust and keep it out.
Minutes later we witnessed the attempted murder of Chilwell, after Nordtveit came in flying with a Nigel de Jong style karate kick, studs up on the stomach of the young left back. It made Amartey's horror-challenge look tame, it was that blatant. Yet, Taylor somehow deemed it a yellow card offence, then proceeded to book both Chilwell and an incredulous Schmeichel for complaining over the clear stud marks in Chilwell's stomach.
Thankfully the Foxes held on for the 3 points, leaving them 6 points from the drop zone. It was a great end to an unbelievable year for the Foxes, leaving fans with a bit more confidence going into the New Year.