When the fixture list was revealed last summer more than a few fans looked to this match as a possible title decider. How wrong we were. Perhaps not as wrong as some Sky executives though. Until Middlesbrough’s surprise win over Southampton the game they moved just a few weeks ago believing both clubs would be in the promotion battle was looking meaningless. Of course, it still might be. West Ham’s fate is far from in their own hands.
The Hammers’ struggles to accept Sam Allardyce’s brutalist approach to the beautiful game have become more pronounced since the side slipped from the automatic promotion places. Indeed, in the last eight matches West Ham (13) have won just one more point than the Foxes (12).
The bad news for City is that (for the most part) West Ham’s troubles have been at Upton Park. On the road, the Hammers remain formidable. Theirs is the best away record in the division, with just four defeats to their name. West Ham are on their longest unbeaten away stretch of the season too. If they take at least a point tonight they will make it 8 without defeat on their travels.
But Leicester have been no pushovers at home for a while. Undefeated in eight, the Foxes haven’t conceded a goal in front of their own fans for 352 minutes. Three clean sheets in a row at home is already the club’s best such run since 2003. If they make it four it’ll be Leicester’s best sequence of clean sheets at home since the 1979/80 campaign when the Foxes took the Division Two title.
The last time Leicester beat West Ham at home the win took the Foxes into the Champions League places. The best City can manage this season is 8th in the Championship. Right now, we’d all take ending the year with some pride.