West Ham 2 Leicester 3: Visitors go back to the future to end away hoodoo

Jonathan Liew
Jamie Vardy scores Leicester's third goal - Action Images

Somehow, you can tell that whoever chooses the music at the London Stadium was brought up on a diet of solid mid-2000s indie disco. But the wall-to-wall sounds of Muse, Bloc Party and The Killers were not the throwback on show here. Introducing 2015-16 Leicester: reformed, a little weathered and perhaps just past their best, but on their best form just as good as the real thing.

This was the champions’ first away win of the season in the league, indeed their first for 342 days. And as they rolled out their greatest hits, storming into an early 2-0 lead and holding firm in the face of a late onslaught, it was impossible not to wonder how things might have gone had they managed to summon a little of this fire earlier in the season.

A Champions League hangover? After their win over Sevilla on Tuesday night, Leicester began like a team that had never stopped partying. But they did so largely because they were allowed to by West Ham, a team for whom things are going wrong not just in ones and twos, but in clusters. A stirring second-half fightback, in which only the inspired Kasper Schmeichel denied them a point, should not mask the serious flaws they displayed in the first seven minutes, when the match was essentially won and lost.

This was not a game that Leicester won on the counter. Bilic’s West Ham defend deep, and Jamie Vardy got very few opportunites to run in behind them. But if you drop deep, it is imperative to control the edge of your penalty area: the spaces 25-30 yards from goal, where most crosses and through balls originate.

West Ham vs Leicester shots on goal

Instead, whether by tactic or timidity, West Ham put very little pressure on the ball in those areas, allowing Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton to weave and wend almost at will. When the ball arrived in the area, they were scarcely any better at dealing with it. West Ham provided more creative spaces than a 1980s left-wing council, and here it cost them the game.

Take Leicester’s first goal, after just five minutes. For some reason, Aaron Cresswell allowed Mahrez three or four clear yards to cross from the Leicester right. Winston Reid put a ceremonial jump in. Jose Fonte didn’t even bother with that. The ball crept in at the far post with goalkeeper Darren Randolph nowhere.

Or their second goal, just two minutes later. No West Ham player was guarding the edge of the box as Albrighton rolled the ball back, and trotted across to receive the return pass from Mahrez. Albrighton clipped a cross to the far post, where Robert Huth had evidently told West Ham he wanted to be left alone for a while. Header, two-nil, game over.

West Ham vs Leicester shots on goal

When captain Reid pulled up clutching his hamstring after 15 minutes, West Ham’s afternoon was in danger of descending into farce. And it is to Slaven Bilic’s partial credit that it failed to do so. Recognising the need for a change, he used Reid’s injury as an opportunity to bring Manuel Lanzini deeper into midfield, to shift the quick Andre Ayew into the centre, closer to Andy Carroll and thus closer to his tasty buffet of knock-downs and flick-ons.

Within minutes Lanzini had pulled a goal back, pasting a free-kick into the top corner after Danny Drinkwater had chopped Michail Antonio down 20 yards out. And for a while, West Ham looked better going forward, even if they still looked desperately fragile at the back. Six minutes before the break, West Ham allowed a Leicester corner to bounce in their area; Vardy gratefully smashed the loose ball into the net. “Can we play you every week?” the Leicester fans trilled at the stream of sad Cockneys vacating their seats in search of half-time pastry, alcohol and solace.

How do you kill a circus? Go for the juggler, as the old joke runs, and in the second half West Ham displayed far more purpose. They kept it simple, using their dominance of possession to run at the heart of the Leicester defence and swing crosses into dangerous areas. An hour in, they had their reward, Ayew bundling home from close range after Carroll had won the initial header.

Andre Ayew scores for West Ham

And so the siege began. They used to love a good siege at Upton Park, and they still do here, even if the stands are now so far from the pitch that you wonder if the shouts of “Man on!” are even still audible. Ayew missed a shocker from 10 yards. Schmeichel palmed away a Carroll header inches before it crossed the line. Cheikhou Kouyate had a shot scrambled away. At the other end, Vardy and Islam Slimani both missed one-on-one opportunities to make the game safe.

In the end, Schmeichel was Leicester’s hero, saving Carroll’s close-range shot in the second minute of injury time with a strong, instinctive right arm. Minutes later, that same arm was raised in triumph. Leicester may not quite be out of trouble yet, but now they have a run of wins under their belt. A simple, effective style of play. A Champions League quarter-final to look forward to. And of course, for now they are still champions. Things could certainly be worse.

4:56PM

Full time: West Ham 2-3 Leicester

The referee has seen enough at London Stadium and blows the final whistle.

4:56PM

Average touch positions (full time)

Average touch positions (full time) 4:55PM

Full time: Stoke 1-2 Chelsea

It's all over at bet365 Stadium.

4:55PM

Average touch positions (full time)

Average touch positions (full time) 4:54PM

Red card! Phil Bardsley sent off for Stoke

Phil Bardsley is sent off by referee Anthony Taylor for his second bookable offence.

4:53PM

The referee's busy at bet365 Stadium

Anthony Taylor brandishes his seventh yellow card of the game - Cesc Fàbregas is the latest name in the book for Chelsea.

4:52PM

Full time: Crystal Palace 1-0 Watford

It's all over at Selhurst Park.

4:52PM

Full time: Sunderland 0-0 Burnley

The referee has seen enough at Stadium of Light and blows the final whistle.

4:52PM

Average touch positions (full time)

Average touch positions (full time) 4:52PM

Average touch positions (full time)

Average touch positions (full time) 4:52PM

Full time: Everton 4-0 Hull

The final whistle blows at Goodison Park.

4:52PM

Average touch positions (full time)

Average touch positions (full time) 4:52PM

GOAL!

A goal from Romelu Lukaku for Everton makes the score 4-0.

Everton 4 - 0 Hull (Romelu Lukaku, 90 + 4 min) 4:51PM

One-way traffic at Goodison Park

It's been all Everton, with the hosts racking up 15 shots so far - Hull have managed just five in reply.

Everton vs Hull shots on goal 4:48PM

GOAL!

Romelu Lukaku has put Everton into a commanding 3-0 lead.

Everton 3 - 0 Hull (Romelu Lukaku, 90 + 1 min) 4:47PM

GOAL!

1-2. Gary Cahill has put Chelsea ahead in the dying minutes!

Stoke 1 - 2 Chelsea (Gary Cahill, 87 min) 4:46PM

It's been a mismatch at bet365 Stadium so far

It's been all Chelsea, with the visitors racking up 15 shots so far - Stoke have managed just four in reply.

Stoke vs Chelsea shots on goal 4:36PM

GOAL!

Everton have doubled their lead, and it's Enner Valencia with the goal to make it 2-0.

Everton 2 - 0 Hull (Enner Valencia, 78 min) 4:30PM

Red card! Tom Huddlestone sent off for Hull

Referee Paul Tierney gives Tom Huddlestone his marching orders.

4:26PM

OWN GOAL!

Troy Deeney has put through his own net, making the score 1-0.

Crystal Palace 1 - 0 Watford (Troy Deeney, 68 min) 4:23PM

GOAL!

André Ayew has halved the deficit for West Ham and it's now 2-3.

West Ham 2 - 3 Leicester (André Ayew, 63 min) 4:04PM

Second half: Stoke 1-1 Chelsea

The second 45 has begun at bet365 Stadium.

4:04PM

Second half: West Ham 1-3 Leicester

The second 45 has begun at London Stadium.

4:03PM

Second half: Sunderland 0-0 Burnley

The second 45 has begun at Stadium of Light.

4:02PM

Second half: Crystal Palace 0-0 Watford

The action restarts at Selhurst Park.

4:02PM

Second half: Everton 1-0 Hull

The second 45 has begun at Goodison Park.

3:50PM

Half time: Sunderland 0-0 Burnley

The teams head in at the break at Stadium of Light.

3:50PM

Average touch positions (half time)

Average touch positions (half time) 3:50PM

Half time: West Ham 1-3 Leicester

The teams head in at the break at London Stadium.

3:49PM

Half time: Stoke 1-1 Chelsea

The half-time whistle blows at bet365 Stadium.

3:49PM

Average touch positions (half time)

Average touch positions (half time) 3:49PM

Average touch positions (half time)

Average touch positions (half time) 3:47PM

Half time: Crystal Palace 0-0 Watford

The half-time whistle blows at Selhurst Park.

3:47PM

Average touch positions (half time)

Average touch positions (half time) 3:46PM

Half time: Everton 1-0 Hull

The teams head in at the break at Goodison Park.

3:46PM

Average touch positions (half time)

Average touch positions (half time) 3:44PM

The shot count is similar

Crystal Palace have attempted three shots so far, compared to one for Watford.

Crystal Palace vs Watford shots on goal 3:44PM

The shot count is similar

Sunderland and Burnley are evenly matched in attack so far - the vistors have fired in seven shots to the hosts' four.

Sunderland vs Burnley shots on goal 3:41PM

The shot count is similar

Stoke and Chelsea are evenly matched in attack so far - the vistors have fired in four shots to the hosts' one.

Stoke vs Chelsea shots on goal 3:39PM

GOAL!

Jamie Vardy has restored Leicester's two-goal lead and it's now 1-3.

West Ham 1 - 3 Leicester (Jamie Vardy, 38 min) 3:38PM

Hull looking unadventurous so far

The visitors haven't yet managed to apply some concerted pressure on the Everton backline.

Everton vs Hull 3:38PM

GOAL!

Stoke level it up with a goal from Jonathan Walters: it's 1-1.

Stoke 1 - 1 Chelsea (Jonathan Walters, 38 min) 3:38PM

Stoke respond

A first attempt at goal from Stoke - Chelsea have had four shots of their own so far.

Stoke vs Chelsea shots on goal 3:37PM

Watford pinning the hosts back in their own half

The Crystal Palace defence are on the back foot so far.

Crystal Palace vs Watford 3:37PM

Burnley firmly on the front foot so far

The visitors are keeping the Sunderland defence busy so far.

Sunderland vs Burnley 3:32PM

Neither side taking control of the game yet

Watford enjoying slightly more of the ball, with 183 touches to 172 from Crystal Palace.

Crystal Palace vs Watford 3:31PM

Chelsea enjoying plenty of touches of the ball so far

Chelsea have had 255 touches of the ball compared to 165 by Stoke.

Stoke vs Chelsea 3:30PM

Neither side taking control of the game yet

Burnley enjoying slightly more of the ball, with 180 touches to 175 from Sunderland.

Sunderland vs Burnley 3:22PM

Everton enjoying plenty of touches of the ball so far.

Everton have had 210 touches of the ball compared to 120 by Hull.

Everton vs Hull 3:20PM

GOAL!

West Ham are right back in it now - it's 1-2, thanks to a goal from Manuel Lanzini.

West Ham 1 - 2 Leicester (Manuel Lanzini, 20 min) 3:14PM

Watford threaten for the first time

Following the earlier Crystal Palace effort, Watford register their first attempt at goal.

Crystal Palace vs Watford shots on goal 3:14PM

GOAL!

Willian strikes early to open the scoring - it's 0-1 to Chelsea.

Stoke 0 - 1 Chelsea (Willian, 13 min) 3:09PM

Everton have their first strike at goal

Everton respond to the earlier Hull effort with their first shot of the game.

Everton vs Hull shots on goal 3:09PM

GOAL!

An early opener from Dominic Calvert-Lewin makes it 1-0 to Everton.

Everton 1 - 0 Hull (Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 9 min) 3:09PM

Sunderland hit back

Sunderland register their first shot, in response to two so far from Burnley.

Sunderland vs Burnley shots on goal 3:07PM

GOAL!

West Ham up against it now - Robert Huth makes it 0-2 to Leicester.

West Ham 0 - 2 Leicester (Robert Huth, 7 min) 3:05PM

GOAL!

An early opener from Riyad Mahrez makes it 0-1 to Leicester.

West Ham 0 - 1 Leicester (Riyad Mahrez, 5 min) 3:05PM

Leicester have their first sight of goal

Leicester respond to the earlier West Ham effort with their first shot of the game.

West Ham vs Leicester shots on goal 3:00PM

Kick off: Crystal Palace vs Watford

We're under way at Selhurst Park.

3:00PM

Kick off: Sunderland vs Burnley

They're off and running at Stadium of Light.

3:00PM

Kick off: Stoke vs Chelsea

They're off and running at bet365 Stadium.

3:00PM

Kick off: West Ham vs Leicester

We're under way at London Stadium.

3:00PM

Kick off: Everton vs Hull

They're off and running at Goodison Park.

2:13PM

Team news from the London Stadium

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