Before running into the buzzsaw that is Manchester City last weekend, Leicester City was in relatively good form, having taken at least one point from each of their previous five matches. Although the Foxes left the King Power Stadium without a point in Matchday 12, Leicester was immediately presented with the perfect opportunity to get back on the winning track against 18th-place West Ham United, a club winless since September. While Leicester wasn’t able to get all three points versus the Hammers, the Foxes did manage to leave London Stadium with one point after a 1 – 1 draw.
Manager Claude Puel made no changes to his starting lineup for the clash with West Ham, though he did shift Mark Albrighton from the center to the right side of the pitch, moving Riyad Mahrez inside, directly behind Jamie Vardy. It didn’t take long for Puel’s players to show this was the right decision. In the eighth minute of the match a Vardy pass found a sliding Albrighton, who promptly found the back of West Ham’s net, giving the Foxes a 1 – 0 lead. The assist continued the striker’s excellent play against the Hammers, as Vardy has compiled two goals and three assists in his last five Premier League matches versus West Ham.
Leicester had a few more chances on goal in the first half but failed to capitalize, and not without some controversy. A throw in from Danny Simpson in the 22nd minute led to a collision in the box between Albrighton and Arthur Masuaku, who knocked Albrighton down as he was going for the ball. There were some half-hearted calls for a penalty from Leicester players, but referee Martin Atkinson chose not to blow his whistle. One minute later Vardy maneuvered around Winston Reid and had a clear path toward goal, but a suddenly inspired Marko Arnautovic tracked back on defense, stopping Vardy’s run with a clearance that resulted in an ultimately unsuccessful Leicester corner kick.
For the rest of the first half West Ham went on the attack. Two Manuel Lanzini free kicks were right at goal, one off the head of Angelo Ogbonna, another directly from the boot of Lanzini. But Kasper Schmeichel was up to the task, stopping both attempts from reaching their mark. In the last minute of play in the first half, however, the Hammers finally broke through. A Lanzini corner kick found the head of Cheikhou Kouyate, and an unfortunate deflection off the shoulder of Danny Simpson gave West Ham the equalizer.
While the story of the first half was goals and momentum swings, the story of the second half was stoppages of play. It all started in the 60th minute after West Ham keeper Joe Hart was forced to throw the ball out of play due to the first of what would be many injuries. Arnautovic had gone down untouched, was treated for a few minutes, and eventually substituted out. Five minutes later a hard challenge on Reid by Wilfried Ndidi stopped the match for several minutes of treatment to Reid. Six more minutes elapsed before a Pedro Obiang elbow to the head of Gray stopped play yet again. Not even three minutes later a collision between Wes Morgan and Kouyate resulted in another stoppage, a thankfully unused stretcher being brought on to the pitch, and even more on-pitch treatment.
When play resumed there was more controversy, but this time it was West Ham looking for a penalty after a Harry Maguire challenge on Andre Ayew. Replays showed there appeared to be minimal contact from Maguire on the play, despite Ayew dramatically falling to the pitch. Once again Atkinson declined to blow his whistle.
All the injuries and treatment prior to the second non-call led to six minutes of stoppage time. But neither a dramatic overhead attempt by Ayew in the 91st minute nor the 92nd-minute substitution of Islam Slimani for Gray were enough for either side to pull out the win. Despite failing to secure all three points after taking an early lead, Leicester City did manage to pick up at least one point for the sixth time in their last seven matches. The Foxes can now focus their attention on Tottenham Hotspur, who come to the KP a short four days from today.