West Ham entertain the Premier League champions, Leicester City on Saturday. This is an important home game for the Hammers, who are looking to reverse a run of four games without victory. With the team currently in 11th place, 6 points away from the Foxes, we have asked the writers for their predictions.
Before we get into any of the exciting football let’s take a moment to announce the Brace the Hammer Prediction League; an ongoing aspect of this weekly article.
The scoring is simple and works likes this – 1 point is awarded for predicting the correct outcome of the game; 3 points for correctly guessing the outcome and score. At the end of the season the person top of the Leaderboard will win a mystery prize. If you’d like to participate comment your predictions, there’s still all to play for!
Enough chit-chat let’s get into the game!
Leicester will be a tough fixture for West Ham, since the Foxes sacked Claudio Ranieri, they have gone on to win three consecutive games. Most recently knocking Sevilla out of the Champions League, a team who have won the last three Europa League titles.
Just one month ago Leicester were in a relegation fight, everything looked terrible, now the Foxes can look forward to facing Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final. Crazy.
Meanwhile, over in East London, the Hammers are in desperate need of a win if they are hoping to finish in the top half of the table.
West Ham have lost 3 of their last 6 games and conceded 13 goals in this time, for reference Chelsea and Tottenham have conceded 20 goals in the entire season. To make things worse, West Ham have the fifth-worst home record in the Premier League.
At this point last season, West Ham had only lost twice at home, they have recorded six defeats so far in the current campaign. It might help that Leicester have yet to win away from home this season, but that was before Craig Shakespeare took over and turned Leicester back into world-beaters.
I am going to show my trademark optimism and predict a 2-1 West Ham win. I believe that Leicester will be mentally drained after their Champions League win in Spain on Tuesday night. They will find it difficult to motivate themselves for a league game that will have no major impact on the rest of their season.
Here are the rest of your picks, a lot of people think it will be a 2-1 win for the Irons. This is encouraging to me:
West Ham 2-0.
The Hammers come back after a change in personnel brings about very positive change. Byram at RB and Kouyate back at CM could open up Lanzini for some nice runs, cutting open the Foxes defence. Leicester might feel let down after their big win in the Champions League this week.
Spurred on by their mid-week win against Sevilla, Leicester look like a completely different team since Ranieri's been sacked. West Ham struggle at home and Bilic is under pressure, I think we're in for a long afternoon
West Ham 0-2 Leicester
The Foxes have looked formidable since appointing Craig Shakespeare. It will take a much improved performance to get something out of this game.
My prediction is 3-1 to Leicester. We haven't been able to defend very well at all lately and with Andy Carroll looking like he has run a marathon before the last two matches, I'm worried about scoring goals. The attack just seems to be stuck in place with the team constantly sending crosses into the box that Carroll just can't seem to get a head on.
The refusal of Bilić to play another striker also worries me, as does the fact that André Ayew just can't seem to get a start, despite scoring or creating goals the past three matches. Noble is apparently set to "rest" this week which is also concerning because I can see Nordtveit or Edimilson Fernandes getting the start in midfield while Kouyaté keeps playing out of position.
Leicester City seems to have woken up from whatever bad dream they've been having this year after Ranieri was sacked. I don't necessarily think that Ranieri was the problem, but the team is firing on all cylinders since he left and the team is playing like the team that won the Premier League last season and not the team that lost to Hull City on the first day of the season this year.
I know the game is in London, but I just don't see the current West Ham team attacking very well against Leicester, if for no other reason that Leicester can deal with crosses coming into the box and unless Ayew and Lanzini take over the attack, rather than just sending endless crosses off the feet of Cresswell and Snodgrass, West Ham will struggle to score goals.
We will also struggle to deal with the speed of Vardy, Mahrez, Slimani and Musa with our current defenders, this has all the makings of a bad loss, with Leicester in form and West Ham looking a bit lost.
I think it will come down to who gets the nod for Bilic in this match. If he gets creative and starts Ayew and Byram, we could see some fun and exciting football. If he’s stuck in his old ways, we’ll probably get more of the same. For funsies, I'm picking Ayew to get the brace.
West Ham 2-1 Leicester
It's a really difficult one to predict. We seriously struggle against counter attacking sides and that's how Leicester won the title last season. We have to play on the break with pace otherwise I don't see us standing a chance. Hopefully they're still tired from their Champions League heroics midweek and Bilic nails it.
Gonna guess that Leicester are feeling good after their Champions League victory, but may be a bit tired. Gonna say it's a draw. 2-2
West Ham 2-1 Leicester City.
The Hammers should keep Leicester winless away from home. West Ham pressed well in the second half to get a goal, but the defence is still shaky. The Foxes should score and will have chances, but if Slaven Bilic uses Andre Ayew effectively up top, whether as a starter or a substitute, West Ham can press for the top of the table.