Heading into the final five fixtures seven points clear at the top, Leicester City can be forgiven for planning the end of the season party, but the Foxes know all too well they cannot afford to relax just yet. West Ham will be looking to spoil said party and at the same time keep their Champions League hopes alive.
Pundits and sports writers across Europe are quickly running out of superlatives to describe Leicester City’s unexpected rise to stardom, and it is now difficult to imagine the Foxes falling at the last hurdle. Even if there are some tough games ahead, it would appear as though the largest part of the job is already completed, as three wins in last five games will clinch the coveted trophy even if title rivals Spurs win all the remaining matches. The Player of the Year nominations for Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante speak volumes about the trio’s performances this season, but it would not be fair to single out any individuals for what has been a tremendous team effort. Leicester City have successfully avoided several potential banana skins of late, defeating the likes of Watford, Newcastle United, Crystal Palace, Southampton and Sunderland without conceding a single goal in the process, and while West Ham are likely to prove worthy opposition, we are backing the Foxes to make another major step towards the Premier League trophy.
Even birds know by now Claudio Ranieri’s preferred starting XI, and with no fresh injuries to report, there are unlikely to be any changes.
Leonardo Ulloa and Demarai Gray are almost certain to be introduced in the second period, especially if needed to run down the clock.
West Ham have been nearly as impressive as Leicester City this season, with the team showing incredible progress under Slaven Bilic. The Hammers began the campaign by defeating some of England’s top sides on the road and that provided the impetus that eventually resulted in a serious top 4 challenge. West Ham appear to have suffered a dip in form in the crucial stage of the season and they are now unlikely to secure Champions League qualification, but even Europa League berth would be more than welcome. Despite facing some tough opposition, the Hammers have now failed to win any of their last five fixtures on all fronts, and the home loss to Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-final replay was especially disappointing. Manager Slaven Bilic will not have a lot of time to raise the spirits ahead of the clash at King Power Stadium, where tired legs could prove to be a problem for his side. West Ham are unbeaten in last five away games (W2 D3), but the record will be put to a serious test when they face the red-hot Premier League leaders.
Slaven Bilic has revealed that he hopes to have Winston Reid available for selection, meaning he should have fully fit squad to select from.
Bilic used a 3-4-2-1 formation in the first half of the Arsenal game before switching to 4-2-3-1 in the second period, but he is expected to play four at the back this time out.
Key Factors to Consider
- Leicester won last three meetings with West Ham
- Both teams scored in six of their last seven meetings
- West Ham are winless in five fixtures
- Leicester have won last five league games without conceding
- Both teams scored in each of West Ham’s last six games
Leicester City have become masters of grinding out results and they now have five wins to nil in a row. Having had a fill week to prepare for the West Ham clash, the Foxes should have the upper hand over their opponents, who had a tough midweek game at Boleyn Ground. Therefore, we expect the leaders to extend the amazing run.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 19/20
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