West Ham 1 City 2
Report by Kate Thompson
Leicester City fans were taken by surprise at the number of changes for this match. Only Schmeichel and Evans were included, from the team who were humbled by Liverpool on Boxing Day.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the inclusion of the forgotten man, Papy Mendy; Rodgers said after the match that he had played for the under 23s and in some closed games to improve his match fitness. I do feel sorry for him, as he has not really had a chance after he was injured so early in his City career, against Arsenal. He did his chances of finding a new club, if that is what he wants, no harm by this display.
Before the game, there was a tribute to Martin Peters, a West Ham legend, whose death was announced a few days ago; many Leicester fans joined in the minute’s applause.
The game started very tamely, with very little structure but a lot of ‘kick and rush’. The first piece of skill saw Gray put the ball over the top for Iheanacho to run onto, which he did, but was clattered by the onrushing West Ham goalkeeper, Fabianski, and needed a lot of treatment before the game could continue. Fabianski was booked and Gray took the resulting penalty – no need for VAR to confirm the decision!
Although he had scored against Everton in the recent Carabao Cup game, I am never confident with his penalties, and so it proved, Fabianski saving a tame effort. This seemed to energise West Ham and Kasper had to be alert to beat away a rasping drive from Masuaku, the West Ham full back.
City were clearly the better side but it took until the 40th minute for them to prove this, when a cross from Justin was headed on by Perez to Iheanacho, who had plenty of time to place his header beyond the goalkeeper.
Unfortunately, West Ham equalised just before half-time, when an excellent cross from Anderson was calmly slotted past Kasper by Fornals.
However, Leicester didn’t have to wait long to restore their lead when a slick passing move involving Choudhury, Perez and Gray led to an excellent goal from Gray in the 56th minute – and credit to the referee for playing advantage when Perez was clearly fouled in the build-up.
Gray was subsequently given man of the match by some pundits. After that there were a few concerns but in the event City were able to see out the win comfortably, against a very poor West Ham side. By the time I had got home the sacking of Pellegrini had been announced.
Nobody particularly stood out and I think it unlikely that any of those playing in this game will replace any of the normal first XI. They worked hard and deserved their win but against a better team I think they would struggle. I was particularly sorry that one of my favourite players, Marc Albrighton, seems to have lost his edge and sadly is unlikely to start many games. I had expected Matty James to be on the bench, as he is apparently very close to playing again, but perhaps we will see him very soon.
For the record, Perez was replaced by Maddison in the 64th minute, Mendy by Ndidi in the 70th and Gray by Barnes in the 83rd. The rest of the substitutes were regular starters, apart from the reserve goalkeeper, Ward; Vardy did not travel with the team as his wife had just given birth to their daughter, so congratulations to them.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Justin, Morgan, Evans, Fuchs, Gray (Barnes 83), Choudhury, Mendy (Ndidi 70), Albrighton, Pérez (Maddison 64), Iheanacho, Subs (not used), Chilwell, Söyünc, Tielemans, Ward
West Ham: Fabianski, Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop,Masuaku, Rice, C Sánchez (Snodgrass 62), Fornals, Lanzini (Ajetiat 70), Felipe Anderson, Haller (Antonio 55).
Subs (not used) Reid, Zabaleta, Jiménez, Noble
Referee: David Coote Attendance: 59,919
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