This is part of a regular series from our panel of Super Fans on upcoming West Ham games. We’re delighted to welcome Lox Martin as our exclusive Leicester expert.
West Ham can solidify their place in the top four with a victory over third-placed Leicester City this weekend in a Premier League clash in east London.
The Hammers play host to the Foxes having won the reverse fixture 3-0 at the King Power Stadium. Jarrod Bowen, Michail Antonio and Pablo Fornals scored on the day as we won emphatically in the midlands.
Brendon Rogers’ side are having an excellent campaign. As things stand, they have a five-point gap over us in third place and are through to the FA Cup semi-final. They’ve been unfortunate with injuries though, Harvey Barnes and James Justin are both out for the season.
We asked Leicester City Super Fan, Lox Martin (Leicester Fav TV), for his views on the Foxes, their season so far, and his predictions for the match at the London Stadium.
Third in the table and an FA Cup semi-final – Leicester fans must be very happy this season?
The majority of us are extremely pleased with how the season has gone. After the horrific end to last season, the loss of Ben Chilwell and a busy schedule with Europa, we expected to finish outside the top four this season. We’ve added Wesly Fofana and Timothy Castagne but there were doubts as to whether they’d improve the first team. As most football fans know, players prove us wrong and these two certainly have. I truly believe Fofana will go on to be one of the biggest names in world football over the next decade.
The new players along with the old guard are having a remarkable season. Despite being knocked out of the Europa League, they’re guiding us to what could be our second Champions League campaign and potentially our first FA Cup trophy.
You’ve been really unfortunate with injuries throughout the campaign. Who’s lay-off has disrupted the XI the most?
With the sale of Ben Chilwell at the start of the season and the early injury to his replacement, Timothy Castagne, James Justin was brought in to the first team. What a player he’s been for us. In his breakthrough season, he has started 23 games, kept 9 clean sheets, made 61 tackles and scored 2 goals. Losing JJ to such an awful ACL injury just a year after we lost our star full-back, Ricardo, to the same injury was gutting. He was almost certain to be called up to the England squad in the most recent World Cup Qualifiers. Despite this, we’re confident he will come back stronger and be challenging for a place in that 2022 World Cup team!
By his own high standards, Jamie Vardy has been on a bit of a dry spell. What’s going wrong for him at the moment?
His hernia operation in January was something he should have had done years ago. However, it was delayed and delayed and delayed due to his importance to the first team. But this season was different, he’s not getting any younger and he was pulling up what felt like every game before Christmas. After his surgery, he was rushed back into the side due to other injuries and a lack of depth up-front and for a good while didn’t seem his usual self.
But unluckily for West Ham, he’s definitely almost back to his full fitness. He had a great game against Sheffield United a few weeks ago. He assisted our new talisman, Kelechi Iheanacho, twice.
Most of us Leicester fans have no doubt that the goals will start coming again. From history, West Ham could be the game in which it happens. His stature at the club will mean that as long as he is fit, he will start. I see him creating problems for The Hammers this weekend.
Who are the main threats for Leicester?
Iheanacho has turned it all around scoring 5 Premier League goals in March, along with another 2 in the FA Cup which won him the Premier League player of the month award.
Vardy and Iheanacho open up so much space, dragging defenders out of position and causing havoc at the back. If this isn’t enough then we still have Ayoze Perez or James Maddison as that number 10 to take advantage of any free space.
I see it being the midfield that controls the game for Leicester this Sunday – Wilfried Ndidi and Youri Tielemans have the qualities to do that. With Declan Rice out for West Ham, I’m backing Leicester to control that midfield and have the majority of the ball.
There’s a lot of talk around James Maddison and the England squad at the moment. Do you think he goes to the Euros?
No. We all know James Maddison is a quality young number 10. If it were a few years ago, there would be no doubt that he would be in that Euro squad. But now, with the choice of top players in that position like Foden, Mount, Grealish etc, it’s going to be difficult for anyone to break into the squad.
I think that he would have had a real good chance of playing for England at the Euros if he kept a clean bill of health. However, due to the multiple injuries he’s sustained this season, he’s made it difficult for Southgate to pick him.
Leicester have been a tough opponent for West Ham over the last few seasons. The 3-0 result in the reverse fixture came as a bit of a shock. What went wrong for the Foxes on the day?
The Hammers did a job on us that day and were absolutely ruthless on the break. We had so much of the ball with Barnes and Perez being very busy. But West Ham were incredibly well-drilled and we really struggled to break you down. We finished the game with no shots on target. We were extremely vulnerable when countered and that was made worse by the skill and pace of Fornals, Antonio and Bowen.
What do Leicester fans make of West Ham this season?
Leicester City have been the epitome of underdogs in recent years, having regularly defied expectations. This also means that we enjoy seeing other teams break the mould of the top 6 and challenging the bigger and richer clubs.
West Ham have done it this year, and unlike Southampton, Aston Villa and Everton, you’ve actually maintained it all season. Moyes’ appointment certainly raised some eyebrows but he is a brilliant coach and he’s got the best out of the players which is really good to see.
Who do Leicester fans see as the main threats from West Ham?
You’ve got quality all over the pitch. Dawson, Coufal and Cresswell at the back. Soucek in midfield. Antonio, Fornals and Bowen going forwards.
However, the addition of Lingard to the team has been remarkable and has really strengthened the side. He had something to prove when he joined West Ham and he’s certainly doing a brilliant job at proving his worth and turning his career around.
Do you see any weak spots in the West Ham side that you expect Leicester to target?
Speed is not the centre-backs best attribute. I’d say that quick counter-attacks or fast passing around the defence is probably the best way to play this Sunday.
I think we will control the midfield. It could be a tough afternoon for the Hammers to get a foothold in the game. But West Ham are well capable of hanging on and do pose the risk of a late counter.
What’s your prediction for the game and why?
I think it’s definitely going to be a good game to watch for the neutral. Both sides are brilliant on the break. But just like back in October, the majority of the counters will likely come from West Ham. Leicester sometimes struggle when given too much of the ball.
Despite this, I still see Leicester coming out on top and Jamie Vardy to end his recent goal drought.
In other West Ham news, this teenage sensation bagged a hattrick for the u23s amid our continuing striker crisis.