Jarrod Bowen adds gloss as West Ham end Leicester's unbeaten start in style

  • 1 year ago
Jarrod Bowen adds gloss as West Ham end Leicester's unbeaten start in style

David Moyes’s remote control seems to be working a treat. With their manager again watching from his sofa after testing positive for coronavirus, West Ham marched to another impressive victory thanks to goals by Michail Antonio, Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen. Those were well-earned rewards for a commanding performance.

After demolishing Wolves 4-0 last week in Moyes’s first match away from the touchline and firing five past Hull in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, West Ham rendered Leicester impotent from the start. Brendan Rodgers’s team had scored 12 goals in their previous three league matches, including five at Manchester City, but could not muster a shot on target.

These sides may have lined up with the same formations but that was as far as the similarities went in a match in which West Ham were physically, technically and tactically superior. All over the pitch they outmuscled the home side, so much so Leicester seemed intimidated and their passing disintegrated, especially in the first half.

It is at times like these that Rodgers must really rue the absence of Ricardo Pereira and Wilfred Ndidi, as well as James Maddison, who had to pull out because of a calf injury suffered in training.

Nampalys Mendy has generally done a decent job replacing Ndidi in a defensive sense but West Ham knew the Frenchman has none of Ndidi’s creativity so they were perfectly happy to let him have the ball around halfway, whereas any other Leicester player who got it was immediately engulfed by opponents.

West Ham opened the scoring after Antonio quickly took a free-kick that he had won wide on the right, Caglar Soyuncu reacting to being overpowered by the forward by taking him down from behind.

Having beaten Soyuncu for strength, Antonio then dashed into the box and beat Soyuncu with guile, giving the defender the slip as he directed a low header into the net from a cross by Aaron Cresswell.

Leicester tried to respond but found themselves stifled by authoritative opponents. Ayoze Pérez made no impact on the right-hand side of Leicester’s attack and Harvey Barnes, freshly called up to the England squad, fared little better on the left, where he was subdued by Vladimir Coufal, the defender who arrived at West Ham from Slavia Prague on Thursday.

Coufal turned up on the left in the 22nd minute to foil Leicester’s first dangerous attack, thwarting Thomas Castagne’s attempted cut-back to Jamie Vardy. Most of their other moves foundered on Fabian Balbuena, who played as if fitted with a tractor beam that pulled Leicester’s passes towards him.

 

But it was Creswell who got in the way of another aimless Leicester attack in the 34th minute – and his hoofed clearance turned into a perfect through ball to Fornals, who was kept onside by Soyuncu. The Spaniard raced into the box and rammed a low shot past Kasper Schmeichel.

Leicester’s hopes of clawing their way back into the game just before the interval were foiled by Declan Rice, who scampered back to meddle in a promising move involving Barnes and Vardy.

Leicester had more of the ball in the second half but still struggled to pick a way through West Ham. Antonio remained a constant menace, forcing Schmeichel to save a header from a corner and then, five minutes later, scorching past Soyuncu before feeding Fornals, whose shot was blocked by Jonny Evans.

Leicester’s afternoon worsened when Daniel Amartey, who has recently returned from a two-year injury-enforced absence, pulled a hamstring. Rice nearly made it 3-0 in spectacular style but after a 60-yard run he thrashed his left-foot shot against the crossbar.

Leicester’s reprieve did not last long. When Fornals split the home defence with a fine pass, Bowen finished emphatically. Vardy had a chance to do likewise in the dying seconds but dinked a shot wide after being sent clear. Worse came in stoppage time, when a goal by Barnes was chalked off after a VAR review because of an offside against Vardy.

“You could see by the celebrations of Lukasz [Fabianksi] and Angelo [Ogbonna] when the goal was ruled out how much the clean sheet meant to them,” said West Ham’s assistant manager, Alan Irvine. “They understand that is the basis on which you build good performances. After that, we have the firepower to hurt teams.”

Rodgers was less happy. “We lacked intensity and aggression, we were below our level,” he said. 

 

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