In what should be dubbed the ‘Having Such A Good 2015/16 Campaign That You Don’t Care About This Season’ derby, an in-form Leicester City side take on a shaky West Ham United, both of whom will probably be wishing that last campaign could have repeated itself this time around.
Since the decision to get rid of cult hero Claudio Ranieri, Craig Shakespeare has guided the Foxes to back-to-back victories in the Premier League and also a Champions League quarter-final spot – making it seem like sacking the title-winning Italian was actually a stroke of genius. Leicester have suddenly regained the confidence that propelled them so far last season and are ready to storm up the Premier League table, far away from the relegation battle they once found themselves in. It’s worth pointing out, however, that Shakespeare’s team have yet to win away this season (0W 3D 10L) and have the second worst away form in the division.
West Ham are now four games without a win in the league after a shocking performance against Bournemouth, which saw them concede three goals and give away two penalties. Shipping goals seems to be the main problem for the Hammers at present – they have only kept one clean sheet in 2017 and have conceded eight times in their last four games. As well as this, Slaven Bilic’s side are in the bottom five teams in the division when it comes to home form. Fans from both teams would arguably prefer it if the match was played at the King Power Stadium.
West Ham only have two minor concerns ahead of the game – wingers Michail Antonio and Robert Snodgrass have picked up knocks but both should be fit. Long-term absentees Gokhan Tore, Angelo Ogbonna and Diafra Sakho are all unlikely to return this season.
Leicester nearly have a fully fit squad to select from. Nampalys Mendy is set to recover from a knee injury but would be unlikely to feature in the game, having made only a handful of appearances all season. Elsewhere, January loanee signing Molla Wagué remains ruled out with a dislocated shoulder.
West Ham predicted line-up Leicester predicted line-up
Slaven Bilic is set to tinker with his side after a poor run of form. With Jose Fonte showing no signs of improvement, it may be tempting to start with James Collins in the heart of defence alongside Winston Reid. Sam Byram grabbed an assist off the bench at right-back, which may have given Bilic enough reason to select him instead of the out-of-position Chiekhou Kouyate. Elsewhere, Andre Ayew will be vying for a starting position following two goals and one assist in the previous three matches. The manager has experimented with quite a few formations in the last run of matches, so it’s anyone’s guess what the Croatian will deploy this time around.
Craig Shakespeare has named the same line-up for the last three games and would have no reason to make any rash changes.
There seems to be no stopping Leicester City at the present moment and a West Ham United side who love to concede aren’t likely to put a dent in their form. A first away win of the season for the Foxes is on the cards, but only by a slim margin.
Prediction: West Ham United 1-2 Leicester City