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Premier League Match Report: West Ham United 4 - 1 Leicester City

12-man Hammers punish 10-man Foxes to go top.

West Ham United v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Leicester City took a beating at the London Stadium on Monday evening, falling by a score of 4-1 to West Ham United. The hosts took a 1-0 lead in the first half through Pablo Fornals before referee Michael Oliver dismissed Ayoze Perez for being shoved into Fornals by Aaron Cresswell. Leicester got a second half goal from Youri Tielemans, but a Said Benrahma strike and a Michail Antonio brace doomed City to their first defeat of the 2021/22 campaign.

Would it be wrong to mention a summer trip in 2015?

Former Southampton stars Jannik Vestergaard and Ryan Bertrand have truly settled in as Leicester defenders in that neither were available for selection due to injury. This being the case, the starting XI looked exactly the same as the one that saw off Wolves last week: Kasper Schmeichel (C), Ricardo Pereira, Daniel Amartey, Çağlar Söyüncü , Luke Thomas, Youri Tielemans, Wilfred Ndidi, Ayoze Perez, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, and Jamie Vardy.

The match started with the Foxes bossing possession and the hosts were perfectly happy to let them do so. City lacked the crispness to break down the Hammers and looked vulnerable on the break. Michail Antonio’s decision-making prevented David Moyes’ men from taking an early lead, but it did look only a matter of time.

That time came from the unlikely source of a rare Vardy mistake. The hitman played a poor pass back into midfield and the London side took advantage. The ball was worked out left to Said Benrahma, who pulled it back for Pablo Fornals. The former Villarreal man side-footed it past Schmeichel to give West Ham the lead on 22’.

Leicester attempted an immediate response and carved out a couple of decent chances in short order. Ayoze and Madders did some neat work in the box and put Ricardo in on the right, but the Portugal man shot when he might have crossed and put it wide. Moments later, the ball fell to Ayoze who crossed when he might have shot and just sent it in too deep for Vardy.

The Hammers were at this point making a point of trying to bully the Foxes. Every challenge had a little something left in it, there were a lot of two-handed shoves being let go and nipping at the heels of Leicester players, leaving them on the deck while the Hammers broke.

In case you were wondering, this is a classic example of “foreshadowing. “

VAR made a terrible mistake on 38’, completely changing the game. Aaron Cresswell shoved Ayoze from behind, sending the former Newcastle man stumbling. While trying to regain his balance, he stood on Fornals. The referee saw nothing wrong, but VAR decided that it was a red card and that was that. Leicester were on 10 men and referee Michael Oliver had completely lost the plot.

West Ham United v Leicester City - Premier League - London Stadium
You genuinely can’t blame Ayoze for this one.
Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images

The rest of the half wound down without much action of note. West Ham had several corners but they were (mostly) dealt with and (occasionally) headed wide. For Leicester, the job was to get to the whistle without conceding again and it was managed with minimal fuss. There was still a heck of a hole to dig out of, but at least we hadn’t made it any deeper.

The hosts came out of the gate looking to extend their lead, which is probably what both managers wanted on the theory that the Foxes might have a little more luck getting one back if the Hammers were stretched. That would always make for a nervy second half, so maybe it was for the best that West Ham were gifted a goal on just 55 minutes.

The culprit this time was the normally-reliable Söyüncü. Trying to play out of the left wing, he turned back towards goal and rolled the ball to Antonio. You may or may not be aware of this, but Antonio is not a Leicester player. The striker picked up the ball and waited for Benrahma to run into the middle and blast the ball past Amartey to double the lead.

With only 25 minutes to play, Rodgers handed Patson Daka his Premier League debut at the expense of Harvey Barnes. That was the signal to get one back. It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but we’ll take it. Maddison carried the ball down the pitch with Vardy and Daka in front of him marked by four defenders. He went wide left for Vardy, who worked it back to Madders. He low cross was missed by Vardy missed by Daka, but it fell to Tielemans. His effort was blocked, but it came back to him and he managed to poke it into the back of the net.

This tweet is about to age very, very badly.

Game on? Nah. The traffic was still mostly in one direction and it wasn’t the one Leicester fans would like. Declan Rice sent in a low cross from the left that found Antonio deep in the area with his back to goal. I love Cags, but trying to defend Antonio in that position is like being isolated with Shaquille O’Neal on the low block. The former Nottingham Forest man created a yard of space and fired a low drive into the far corner and restoring the 2-goal lead.

Rodgers introduced Boubakary Soumare and Kelechi Iheanacho, but the cause was long since lost. It was 4-1 on 83’ minutes with Antonio again the scorer. A cross from the right by Coufal was behind the striker, but he flicked it over his head with his heel and then dove in to tap the ball past Schmeichel for the fourth and final goal of the match for West Ham.

That could have gone better. West Ham were certainly worth their 1-0 advantage at the time of the incident and may well have continued to be the better side. The rest of the match was ruined by a truly bizarre decision inexplicably made by one of the better referees. There is simply no argument to be made for sending a player off for attempting to regain his balance after having being shoved in the back by an opponent.

West Ham United v Leicester City - Premier League
It counts for precisely as many goals as a rocket from outside the area.
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Oh well, it’s only one match and one defeat doesn’t really mean that much in the big scheme of things (please do not look at the final tables from the two previous seasons to confirm this). The defeat leaves us on 3 points from 2 matches, good enough for 12th on the table. We have only 4 days off to lick our wounds before we face off against Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday. After that, it’s the international break and then we host Manchester City on the 11th of September.