Leicester City fell to West Ham 2-0 at the King Power on Saturday. It could have been worse. Honestly, the performance wasn’t much, if any, better than the one that resulted in a 0-5 defeat to Crystal Palace. If you’re a Leicester fan, there wasn’t anything positive about this match.
There is a topless pitch invader here now. “Are you West Ham in disguise?” comes the chant from the away fans #LEIWHU— Sam Inkersole (@Sam_InkersoleTM) May 5, 2018
This was less exciting than it sounded.
There were a few things that weren’t strictly negative. Hamza Choudhury is looking more comfortable with every outing and put in a bone-jarring tackle or two. Adrien Silva looked completely out of sorts as a number 10 directly behind Jamie Vardy, but when he was moved back into the central midfield, he played with a sense of urgency. Christian Fuchs, making his first start in ages, handled most of his defensive duties well but struggled with his crossing. Fousseni Diabate tried inject some pace into the attack, but his touch kept letting him down. Vardy played with his customary desire, but he receive no service whatsoever.
Beyond that? I can’t think of anything good to say. We didn’t have a shot on goal until the last 10 minutes of the match, and it was a tame effort at that. Our best effort was by midfielder Harry Maguire from outside the box, a fierce curler that beat the keeper but was always going over. That is the extent of the highlights involving the Foxes.
I suppose describe the goals. The first was the result of farcical defending. West Ham’s Arthur Masuaku turned right back Yohan Benalouane inside out and floated a cross past the far post. Fuchs tripped over Marko Arnautovic’s foot, leaving the Austrian free to center to an unmarked Joao Mario, whose scuffed shot easily beat Ben Hamer.
The second goal was the result of some real quality. Aleksandar Dragovic’s headed clearance was volleyed home from outside the area by Mark Noble, who couldn’t hit one like that again if he was given 10 chances. Hamer saw it late and had no hope of stopping it, but hats off to Noble for a well-taken effort.
This time out, the problem wasn’t really with the defense. The attack could charitably be described as “leisurely” and less-charitably described as “hopeless”. Watching the last two matches, I genuinely have no clue how Leicester are meant to score goals. The West Ham defense were able to sit deep, let Leicester pass the ball from side to side, and then pounce on the inevitable mistake and surge forward.
So many attacks ended in Benalouane, a center half masquerading as a right back, crossing aimless around, into, but mostly over the West Ham area that I lost count. I don’t understand the starting lineup. I don’t understand the substitutions. I don’t understand the plan of attack. I don’t understand anything Leicester are doing on the pitch right now. And, tellingly, I don’t think the players do either.
I’ll leave the discussions regarding the future of manager Claude Puel for another day, but I will say this: I can forgive a poor result so long as the effort was above reproach, and I think many fans would agree with me on this. When the Foxes lose because they were out-worked by their opponents, hard questions must be asked of the players and the manager.