CITY BURST WEST HAM’S BUBBLE

WEST HAM UNITED 2 LEICESTER CITY 3

Report by Paul Weston

I was lucky enough to be invited by some friends to the match at The London Stadium- the new home of West Ham United. The catch was that they are all West Ham fans and I was told to behave myself sitting amidst the home supporters! I was looking forward to seeing the stadium from the inside after its very expensive transformation from athletics to football venue.

It is a very impressive sports arena but it takes a while to get used to the distance between the seats and the pitch. The West Ham fans are also quite fickle, booed their team off at half time and often the City supporters’ chanting dominated proceedings.

I wondered how the City players would react after the absolutely stunning victory on Tuesday night, which must have left them drained, and with the diversion of the Champions League draw on Friday. I was all too aware that we were still terribly close to the bottom three in the league and we still had not achieved an away win so far.

The first shock was not to see Wes Morgan’s name on the team sheet due to a back injury, with forgotten man Benalouane taking his place. I worried about how his partnership with Robert Huth would gel and how he would cope with Andy Carroll.

The second shock was witnessing City going 2-0 up in less than 10 minutes. City had started really well, passing confidently. Mahrez, who had a good match, picked up the ball and crossed low into the box. It looked like Okazaki and Vardy both missed it but enough to distract the goalie Randolph who also missed it and it curled into the net! 1-0 to City and the West Ham moaners started. The grumbles increased when, from a well worked move between Albrighton and Mahrez, Huth was left in splendid isolation and he nodded in. 2-0 and quite unexpected. West Ham had hardly entered into our half!

City continued to pass slickly, and the wide pitch seemed to suit Mahrez and Albrighton. At the back Benalouane kept it simple but seemed confident. Schmeichel, as stand in captain for the day, bellowed orders from the back. West Ham were not passing well and the crowd got on their back. Drinkwater and Ndidi were breaking up play well and Okazaki was a complete pest.

It was therefore a bit of a surprise when West Ham scored from a free kick by Lanzini which beat Schmeichel completely. 2-1 to City and the West Ham fans started to wake up and cheer on their team, expecting an attacking onslaught.

However, no City players dropped their heads on conceding the goal, instead they carried on undeterred. After a period of pressure a corner was won on the right and, yet again, the defence of West Ham went to pieces harried by Okazaki and Vardy slammed in the loose ball. 3-1 to City just before half time!

No City fan is confident even with a two goal lead and West Ham, not surprisingly, started the second half with renewed vigour and City started to fall back in trying to protect their lead. City still looked dangerous on the break and Vardy nearly clipped the ball around the goalie when put through. However, West Ham pulled a goal back through Ayew in the 60th minute who headed straight at Schmeichel at close range, but who could only palm the ball into the roof of the net. 3-2 to City and the players were starting to look tired after the exertions of the Champions League match.

Shakey brought on Slimani and Musa, replacing Okazaki and Vardy and in the latter stages brought on Chilwell for Mahrez. The last 20 minutes were stressful as West Ham kept banging in crosses to the head of Carroll and, without Vardy to break out, the ball kept coming back to our defence. It seemed inevitable that West Ham would equalise through pure pressure, rather than skilful play, but Schmeichel brought off two absolutely breathtaking saves. At the other end Slimani, when put through by a delightful cross from Chilwell hit the keeper when he should have scored.

Nevertheless, to the relief of the raucous City fans (including this one fan sitting very quietly amongst the West Ham supporters) the referee blew his whistle after 6 minutes of injury time. 3-2 to City!.

City’s long wait for an away win was over and the gap to the bottom three had widened. 4 games won on the trot by Shakespeare and a team that is now unrecognisable in confidence, energy, desire, skill and flair from the shadow of a team earlier in the season.

It is hard to pick out the key players in this match as they all played their part in this victory. I think my man of the match would be Albrighton who terrorised the West Ham right back for most of the match, sent in some brilliant crosses and was always ready to track back in defence. Banalouane should get a special mention considering this was his Premier League debut and he did not let anyone down.

There is a now a short international break before two home games and then the big one! Let us hope that no City players return injured for the next stage of an eventful season. We have momentum and confidence and the feel good factor from last season has returned to team and fans alike.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Benalouane, Huth, Fuchs, Mahrez (Chilwell 87), Drinkwater, Ndidi, Albrighton, Okazaki (Musa 76), Vardy (Slimani 76). Subs not used: King, Amartey, Zieler, Gray

West Ham: Randolph, Byram, Fonte, Reid (Snodgrass 18), Cresswell (Masuaku 73), Kouyate, Obiang (Fernandes 67), Ayew, Lanzini, Antonio, Carroll. Subs not used: Nordtveit, Feghouli, Adrian, Collins

Attendance: 56,979   Referee: Roger East

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation

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Next Up – West Ham

Up Next – West Ham United 18 March 2017

Manager:     Slaven Bilic

Founded:       1895             Ground:         London Stadium

Address:       Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, London, E20 2ST

Capacity:      60,000    

Squad:

1              Republic of Ireland          GK          Darren Randolph

2              New Zealand                     DF           Winston Reid

3              England                                DF           Aaron Cresswell

4              Norway                                MF         Håvard Nordtveit

5              Spain                                     DF           Álvaro Arbeloa

7              Algeria                                  MF         Sofiane Feghouli

8              Senegal                                MF         Cheikhou Kouyaté

9              England                                FW         Andy Carroll

10           Argentina                            MF         Manuel Lanzini

11           Scotland                               MF         Robert Snodgrass

13           Spain                                     GK          Adrián

14           Spain                                     MF         Pedro Obiang

15           Senegal                                FW         Diafra Sakho

16           England                                MF         Mark Noble (captain)                    

17           Turkey                                  FW         Gökhan Töre (on loan from Beşiktaş)

19           Wales                                    DF           James Collins

20           Ghana                                   FW         André Ayew

21           Italy                                       DF           Angelo Ogbonna

22           England                                DF           Sam Byram

23           Portugal                               DF           José Fonte

24           England                                FW         Ashley Fletcher

25           Canada                                DF           Doneil Henry

26           France                                  DF           Arthur Masuaku

28           Argentina                            FW         Jonathan Calleri (on loan from Deportivo Maldonado)

30           England                                MF         Michail Antonio

31           Switzerland                        MF         Edimilson Fernandes

34           Switzerland                        GK          Raphael Spiegel

36           Portugal                               MF         Domingos Quina

We have tried our best to ensure factual accuracy at the date of going to press – apologies in advance for any errors or out of date information.

For the very latest updates please follow the link below to the club web site:  www.whufc.com

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Cry ‘havoc!’

Leicester City 2 v 0 Sevilla

In a week when the country is beginning a two-year process to exit from Europe, I walked to this game hoping that it would not mark the end of another two-year process: the one that got Leicester City into Europe.  Unbelievably, it is almost that long since Andy King got that late winner against West Ham and the rest has been – quite literally – history.

Instead, those lucky enough to be at the King Power Stadium witnessed an exhilarating Act in the continuing drama that is Leicester City Football Club.  It was a game, and an occasion, that had just about everything.

The pre-match atmosphere was as heady as anything experienced throughout last season.  The tifo banner reading “Let slip the dogs of war” revealed before kick-off showed just the right amount of resolve … and the players took their cues perfectly.

Let us be honest: Leicester City, playing like they did this match and for most of last season, are not sophisticated.  They are efficient, effective, hard-working, resolute and any number of other positive adjectives … and, on their day, they are capable of beating just about any team.

From the start, City pressed hard.  The two banks-of-four held position well.  They were quicker, stronger and more purposeful than their talented opponents.  They kept their cool better and, yes, they rode their luck at times – but that is what winners do.

A key moment came as early as the third minute, when Sevilla’s first meaningful possession led to a shot by Nasri that Schmeichel saved well.  Had that gone in, who knows what would have happened?  It did not and from that moment on, City looked to be the better side.

Okazaki and Vardy’s harrying when Sevilla had the ball, together with Ndidi and Drinkwater’s snapping in the tackle, left the visitors looking ordinary for much of the first half.  As early as the seventeenth minute, Nasri was visibly annoyed at Ndidi tackling him yet again, and kicked out at the young midfielder, receiving a deserved yellow card for doing so.

City were even having some spells of possession, although the visitors looked sharp on the break.  Neither side created many outright chances, but City had the pressure, and that led to a deserved lead just before the half hour.  Vardy’s hassling, yet again, won rewards – this time a free kick just outside the corner of the penalty area. 

Mahrez’s cross cleared almost everyone before rebounding into the net off Morgan’s thigh.  Not the most spectacular of goals – but one of the most important.  Suddenly, not only was it possible that Leicester might make the quarter final stage of the Champions League; it was in fact quite a likely outcome!

Sevilla reacted well to going behind and pushed forward more effectively for the rest of the half, but that led to more space for City on the break and the match entered a more open phase.  City defended professionally and held on to their lead until half time.

The visitors made two changes at the break and they began to dominate possession in the way most would have expected prior to kick off.  In the 53rd minute, a speculative 25 yard shot hit the under-side of Schmeichel’s cross bar.  The rebound fell to an unmarked Ben Yedder, who fired his shot well over the bar – a poor attempt and another of the match’s turning points.

Two minutes later, Okazaki’s industriousness led to the ball reaching Mahrez on the right wing, his hopeful cross was headed out straight to Albrighton on the edge of the box.  He was inexplicably unmarked and had an age to control the ball, pick his spot and pass the ball into the net.  Two-nil to Leicester!

Okazaki was replaced by Slimani just after the hour – he had been the Okazaki of last season; constantly harrying, and if he would learn sometimes to pass or to shoot a bit more quickly he would be an even better player than he undoubtedly is.

Vardy then missed a chance at least as good as the one spurned earlier by the visitors – blazing over from a similar distance when unmarked.  Whilst there was every hope that Leicester could hold on to win the match, it was clear that it was not going to be straightforward.  It proved to be an eventful, frenetic final twenty minutes.

Sevilla made their final substitution, and spent more and more time in the Leicester half.  At one point, the ball seemed to be held within 25 yards of City’s goal for a full couple of minutes.  Then Vardy and Nasri ran into each other on the edge of the box.  It was innocuous, but Nasri squared up to Vardy and made a head-butting action.  Yes, Vardy over-reacted, but in truth it was an incredibly stupid act for a professional player to make when on a yellow card.  The referee got the decision absolutely right, booking both players, with the result that Nasri was sent off and the visitors down to ten men.

City’s response to having the extra man was to defend even deeper and to rely on fast breaks.  They seemed content the whole match to let Sevilla get the ball wide and then deal with any resulting crosses as they occurred.  Sevilla spent log passages of play passing and moving just outside the Leicester box, and the home team did a professional job by only conceding one free kick in a shooting position the whole night.  They closed players, they blocked their angles, but they did not get drawn into the silly challenges that have cost them so dear in other matches this season.

Like I said – despite City’s excellent performance it was never going to be simple, and with ten minutes to go Shmeichel was in action again, failing to get to the ball before it was chipped over him.  The ball was cleared from the line by Huth and in the excitement it took many people quite a few seconds to spot that the referee was pointing to the penalty spot.  It was the sort of challenge that goalkeepers normally get away with – Schmeichel was late to the ball but took the players legs from under him – anywhere else that is a clear free kick, and so the referee was correct to give the penalty and Schmeichel a yellow card.

N’Zonzi took the kick – and it was a poor one, giving the City keeper every chance to save it – which he duly did.  The crowd erupted yet again – Sevilla had now missed two penalties in the tie overall – surely the omens were now firmly with Leicester?

The visitors continued to be a threat, whilst Leicester created and spurned three good chances to score on the break: Vardy missing another couple and Slimani being closed down well by the keeper to block a one-on-one chance.  Amartey was brought on to shore up the defence, with Craig Shakespeare showing some astute decision making; the fourth official’s board indicated that Albrighton was to be replaced, but while the change was being arranged, Mahrez went down with cramp, so the number on the board was changed to ‘26’ and Mahrez was replaced – earning a yellow card for the slowness of his leaving the pitch.

Sevilla looked increasingly dis-believing at what was happening, and their manager was sent to the stands for protesting too much.  They mustered one final decent chance – shot over from 18 yards, before finally the four minutes’ added time was up, and Leicester had progressed to the quarter finals of the Champions League.

It was an admirable team performance and the result was thoroughly deserved.  Leicester had a plan and stuck to it, they worked immensely hard.  Every player was at or about his best, discipline was kept and the crowd supported the team all the way.

The dream continues – and whoever City draw in the next round, if they play like this they can give them a decent game.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Mahrez, Ndidi, Drinkwater, Albrighton, Okazaki, Vardy. Subs: Chilwell, King, Amartey, Slimani, Zieler, Gray, Ulloa

Sevilla: Rico, Mercado, Martín Pareja, Rami, Escudero, N'Zonzi, Iborra, Sarabia, Nasri, Machín Pérez, Ben Yedder. Subs: Ferreira Filho, Kranevitter, Correa, Soria Solís, Jovetic, Vázquez, Lenglet

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation

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Going to West Ham ?

West Ham United London Stadium E20 2ST

Located in the south of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the easiest and quickest mode of travel to games at London Stadium is by public transport.

Tube and Train

The quickest way to get to the stadium is to walk from Stratford Station. West Ham Station will be extremely busy on matchdays and it is advised that supporters find alternative direct routes to Stratford Station.

Stratford and Stratford International Station are served by: DLR, Jubilee and Central Line services; National Rail operated by C2C and Greater Anglia, London Overground and South Eastern trains. 

Pudding Mill Lane is a DLR station 10 mins walk away and Hackney Wick – a 20 min walk is served by London Overground

By train journey to London takes approx 2 hours , off peak return £62.50

Bus

Stratford Bus Station and Stratford City Bus Stations are located in close proximity to Stratford Station.

Buses that run to these stations are numbers: 25, 86, 97, 104, 108, 158, 241, 257, 262, 276, 308, 425, 473, D8.

Parking

There is no parking available at London Stadium and parking restrictions will be in place and enforced in the local area.

Where to drink

There are very few pubs in the immediate vicinity which welcome away fans. There are food and drink outlets in the Westfield shopping area near by or it may be easier to drink in central London prior to the game.

All information is provided in good faith but the Foxes Trust cannot be held responsible for any errors.

Thanks to the Football Ground Guide.

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Next up – Sevilla

Next Up Sevilla – 14 March 2017

Head Coach      Jorge Sampaoli  

Founded       1890            Ground      Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán  

Address       Seville, Andalusia, Spain

Capacity        45,500      

Squad:

1          Spain                GK       Sergio Rico

2          France               DF        Benoît Trémoulinas

3          Brazil                DF        Mariano

4          Argentina          MF       Matías Kranevitter (on loan from Atlético Madrid)

5          France               DF        Clément Lenglet

6          Portugal            DF        Daniel Carriço (vice-captain)

7          Denmark           MF       Michael Krohn-Dehli

8          Spain                MF       Vicente Iborra (captain)

9          Argentina          FW       Luciano Vietto (on loan from Atlético Madrid)

10         France               MF       Samir Nasri (on loan from Manchester City)

11         Argentina          MF       Joaquín Correa

12         France               FW       Wissam Ben Yedder

13         Spain                GK       David Soria

14         Argentina          MF       Walter Montoya

15         France               MF       Steven N'Zonzi

16         Montenegro       FW       Stevan Jovetić (on loan from Internazionale)

17         Spain                MF       Pablo Sarabia

18         Spain                DF        Sergio Escudero

19         Brazil                MF       Paulo Henrique Ganso

20         Spain                MF       Vitolo

21         Argentina          DF        Nicolás Pareja (3rd captain)

22         Italy                  MF       Franco Vázquez

23         France               DF        Adil Rami

24         Argentina          DF        Gabriel Mercado

We have tried our best to ensure factual accuracy at the date of going to press – apologies in advance for any errors or out of date information.

For the very latest updates please follow the link below to the club web site: http://www.sevillafc.es/

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